I’m rapidly approaching the landmark age of 30 and sometimes it all seems like a giant blur to me. The other night I was brushing my teeth and glanced up in the mirror and saw one shiny gray hair staring back at me, mixed in with all of the other light brown hairs. I spent the next two minutes isolating that hair and giving it a solid tug, but it did a few things for me, the most important was to remind me that I am indeed growing older. What is funny is that one of the only interests that has followed me throughout those 30 years has been gaming. I grew up with multiple Atari consoles (hell, even a Magnavox Odyssey2 was in the mix) around before I got my NES, then SNES and, well, you can imagine how that one goes because it never stops.
One thing that I’ve noticed from my late teens until now is that there are a few terms that float around in gaming that I find utterly obnoxious and infuriating; the way that gamers classify other gamers. Those terms are known as “hardcore” and “casual” gamer and are utterly ridiculous on so many counts. They are the creation of insecure people who saw that their beloved hobby, for which they were incredibly passionate for, begin to grow beyond their circle of peers and into the everyday world. So those newer gamers who played the popular games were labeled as “casual” gamers in a diminutive fashion. It was a case of power and the power began slipping from those that deemed themselves as “hardcore.”
Over the years I’ve heard a lot of different definitions of what makes a gamer “hardcore” and what makes them “casual.” Casual seems to be anyone who plays games that someone who considers their self to be “hardcore” would not play, or simply finds inferior. A “hardcore” gamer is simply put, someone who plays games that other supposed “hardcore” gamers deem as worthy. I’ve heard ridiculous things like amount of hours spent playing games, specific titles that are more “hardcore” than others and then there is the standby of playing so many games that nothing slips from their grasp.
If you were to mix together the definitions of what makes a “hardcore” gamer you’d have a person who never leaves their house, is on a secret committee that decides what is “hardcore” canon and has a log sheet next to their television to ensure that they are putting in the correct amount of hours so that they don’t lose their status while every Monday night they receive a shipment of every game released. That is, of course, ridiculous and the reality is that there is no canon of games that “hardcore” gamers play. Never mind that to actually be able to afford and find the time to play every moderately interesting game that comes through the pipe you’d need 48 hours in a day and need to be swimming in a vault of gold like Scrooge McDuck.
The image of the “casual” gamer is one that is unusually static, but the games or consoles that they own just changes with the times. A “casual” gamer by the groupthink definition would be someone who plays games like Angry Birds and Call of Duty but has never swapped RAM in their PC or installed a new video card to be able to play a new game. They only buy the biggest releases and while they might like to talk about gaming and try to hang with the “hardcore,” at the end of the day they don’t really care about gaming, they are just looking for something to do.
This whole argument is inherently ridiculous from every angle. Gaming is taste and no matter your level of dedication to gaming, if you feel like giving yourself a label of “gamer” that is your own prerogative and no one should be able to classify you. Gaming itself is awesome and is always evolving, so if you blink you might miss something new and fun that if you adhere to your label would be outside of your assigned caste.
I have somewhere in the realm of 300 hours logged in Skyrim but man, I really am not afraid to admit that I play the hell out of every new iteration of Angry Birds.