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And the gamers who play them: Intermediates

2:46 PM on 03.18.2008 // BFeld13

[Editor's note: The Monthly Musings is still going on! For this "And the gamers who play them", BFeld13 takes a look at intermediate gamers. -- CTZ

For this Monthly Musing, I‘m taking on a group of gamers that I know personally: the intermediates. An intermediate is the type of gamer who has more knowledge of games than the regular consumer, but isn’t hardcore enough to follow gaming constantly enough to know the hype and release date of every future game.

To use an extended metaphor, an intermediate is the guy who stays in the slant of the pool, too old for the shallow end and not proficient enough to live it up in the deep end. Occasionally, they will muster up the courage to take a leap off of the diving board.

More after the jump. 

I have a few friends who are intermediates, and so I know firsthand how this small gaming subgroup works. Many intermediates are teenagers in between complete financial dependence and independence. In addition, their schedule is normally 75% full, leaving time for gaming at a level classified as “slightly above casual”.

Because an intermediate has a greater knowledge of gaming than an average consumer, they need a source from which to find out about games. Most intermediates subscribe to some mainstream gaming publication. In nearly all cases, this is Game Informer, due to GameStop employees constantly hawking it. These magazines provide a basic knowledge of upcoming and recently released titles. Next, someone like me steps in. A group of intermediates always has some sort of pretentious know-it-all leader (see flow chart) who will be able to answer more specific questions inspired by mainstream games journalism.

For instance, take this exchange with my friend and I:
Chris: "Yo, I saw this new creepy game coming out."
BFeld: "What’s it about?"
Chris: "It’s just mad creepy. I think you beat up crazy hobos and shit."
BFeld: "Oh, you mean Condemned 2?"
Chris: "Yeah, I think that’s what it’s called. I read about it in Game Informer. It looks mad good."
BFeld: "Apparently one of the levels takes place in a doll factory."
Chris: "Damn. That’s mad cool."

As you can see, the intermediate has a basic knowledge of a game, but does not fervently track or follow a game up to its release. Around this time, the hardcore person might also offer financial advice for someone looking into picking up a game.

BFeld: "Hey, did you play the first Condemned?"
Chris: "Nah."
BFeld: "Well, you should totally pick it up at Circuit City. Apparently they’re giving away the first one when you buy the second."
Chris: "Yeah, I’m definitely getting it there then."

Intermediates normally like to play multiplayer games as much as single player, and know the basics about playing online. They can enter a match and perform admirably against opponents. However, playing online is normally the extent of an intermediate’s knowledge of their console’s capabilities. An intermediate rarely purchases downloadable content, nor do they know how to add points to their online account. Some of this may be due to age and the subsequent lack of a credit or debit card, though this DLC adversity may also stem from an intermediate not seeing the purpose. What is on a disc is normally enough content for an intermediate gamer. Sometimes online play isn’t even necessary. A lot of intermediates I know still play locally just as much or more than they play online.

Intermediates can sometimes be frustrating though. Occasionally, their lack of initiative towards understanding leads to some annoying late night phone calls. “What does Moderate NAT mean?” “My Xbox doesn’t sign into Live automatically anymore.” “You can send movies to each other in Halo?” I had one friend who lost his Xbox headset, and actually called me in between every match we played.

But intermediates need our help! They need our support through good times and bad. I just had to help one of my intermediate friends through a horrible loss.

Chris: "Hey my Xbox isn’t working."
BFeld: "Really? What happened?"
Chris: "I’m not sure. It’s just blinking red lights and not starting up."
BFeld: "Oh crap. Is it a full circle of red, or is the upper-right corner completely off."
Chris: "It’s just a ¾ circle."
BFeld: "Oh man. You’re fucked. You have to call support and get the thing replaced."
Chris: "Are you kidding me?"
BFeld: "Nope. Just call 1-800-4MY-XBOX."
Chris: "Dammit."
BFeld: "Sorry dude."
Chris: "This sucks ass."

Intermediates are a necessity in gaming culture. They play the important role of giving hardcore gamers an audience while simultaneously making us feel better about our vast knowledge of gaming’s past, present, and future. Intermediates may not know names like Shigeru Miyamoto, Nobuo Uematsu, or Ken Levine, but they know enough to laugh at a Mega64 video or spark a decent discussion of how rad the twist in BioShock is. An intermediate might not realize that you can play as Mr. Destructoid in Bomberman, but they do know that people like Jack Thompson and the entire staff at Fox News are complete twatwaffles. Without intermediates, us hardcores would feel completely isolated and cut off. They bridge the gap between the hardcore and the casual.

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