Just over a week ago, I decided to drop in to a local game store to take a look at the games that have been released before the big holiday rush, one of which was Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise. I picked up the box, and was reading the information for educational purposes.
I was probably grinning to myself while reading the silly storyline inside the booklet when an employee approached me, and asked if I had any questions. Unsure of the exact style of the game, I asked if it was another party game, a sequel to the original, or an expansion. The guy looked at me as though I just spoke Swahili, and replied "I don't really know anything about Viva pinata, I'm a hardcore gamer - I got spore and stuff. Viva Pinata is for kids."
After which, he went into a very long monologue about how he's in college for game design, but will only design hardcore games, and I should only get spore.
Self-proclaimed "hardcore" gamers - we've all seen them. In our game stores, or in our forums - almost a generic fanboy/fangirl, but with a double dose of elitist pride.
These specific gamers will scoff at you when you ask questions about Crash of the Titans, or show an interest in the latest Kirby game. These gamers will tell me, on a regular basis, that I am not a true gamer, because I prefer Marvel Ultimate Alliance to Gears of War - without even being avidly against Gears of War!
Define a Term...
If everyone would please take a moment to define the term "Hardcore Gamer" in the fewest words possible. Go ahead, I'll wait. This definition for each person should be individually tailored, but have basically the same theme; Someone who thoroughly enjoys games, or video games are a large part of that persons life. Simple, yes?
Unfortunately, with the way gamers behave toward one another, no. For the most part, the most specific definition goes down to individual games, or even one game system from another, rather than the actual gamer.
When any one of us engages our consoles, or computers for a bout of gaming, how do we express that verbally? I can't think of any other way, than "I'm going to play
some games", in slight variations to fit a specific situation.
"Want to play some Halo?"
"I've been playing Assassins Creed for hours now!"
"I'm going to play Starcraft."
By using the word play
in every gaming scenario to express our gaming interest, we imply we are going to have fun
with whatever game we decide to boot up.
I am now, more than ever, having a hard time finding the specific fun in gaming. These hardcore gamers, the ones that will come up with some interesting names for me for not playing World of Warcraft, are taking a lot of the entertainment value out of gaming.
We, as consumers, require our critics
, so we know the flaws we're getting into when spending hard earned money on a new game, from the most stripped down, nitpicked standpoint. Knowing these things, we know where our hopes stand so we're not crushed somewhere down the line, and so we might enjoy the game for other aspects.
However, if the entirety of the gaming community, both on and off the Internet, are critics – who is left to just have fun? Also, "You're retarded", or "This game sucked", are not valid criticisms, for the record.
What can be done about it?
Lighten up! That doesn't mean stop defending your favorites, hardcore or otherwise! Just be more productive about it, try listening, as well as talking.
The hardcore status doesn't change if you tell a fellow gamer about the great time you had playing Jet Set Radio Future, or about how much fun it is to catch Elebits for a few hours. Discuss the "Guilty pleasure" games, the ones with very little content, but hours of entertainment.
You can still be hardcore, after you write a review about something relatively low key, raving about how great Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee was. Or, if you pick up a controller with the kid down the street, and enjoy an afternoon of Lego Starwars. Be just as serious about your time spent on Nintendogs as Resident Evil.
Hardcore gaming doesn't have
to be a status war, trying to size each other up based on gamer score, or how many times we've beaten Ninja Gaiden Black – those are boasting rights, but shouldn't dictate what gamers are "supposed" to play. Let a conversation cover all plains of gaming, from Smash Bros. To Silent Hill.
I would like to be allowed to store Kameo on the same bookshelf as Bioshock, and still be accepted in this hardcore community, if that's all the same to you guys. If that means calling myself a casual gamer, so be it! I'd rather have fun, then try
to sound cool by taping the hardcore label to my forehead. Play the hardcore stuff, but give yourself a treat once in a while with something more laid back.
I suppose that wasn't so much "hatred" as "ongoing irritation."
Now, imagine me, only being a video game equal rights activist - playing Oblivion in one hand, and Mario Superstar Baseball in the other.