Hardcore Gamers vs. Casual Gamers | The Game Anthropologist

We believed the same things. You stand to the side. Rebirth of
hardcore pride. It all came true, too bad
you can’t see all the good things that I see. Hi I’m Brian, and welcome to another episode
of The Game Anthropologist. Having a busy daily life leaves me little
time to play games nowadays. But when I do, I get completely absorbed in
them. My motto is to go big or go home. So here I sit in front of my screen, with
a 2 liter bottle of soda and my mixed bag of awesome snacks ready to get enveloped. But being here brings me to something I’ve
wanted to discuss for a long time now. Something that seems to cut right into the
heart of gaming culture. The rigid dichotomy between so called hardcore
gamers and casual gamers. As gamers, we’ve all come to the believe that
there is a definite split within gamer culture between those who classify themselves as more
into the hobby we all hold dear. It’s an exhaustive practice for gamers young
and old to proclaim on their outlet of choice as to who is truly a worthy gamer. And it’s also becoming more difficult to ignore
the gaming industry’s latest trend of a more laid-back fare when it comes to new game releases
and the hardware that accompanies them. In fact, these gaming trends are so rampant
that it is causing an even greater factionization amongst gamers; where even the slightest capitulation
into either realm causes an automatic backlash from either side. It tends to leave a sour taste in the mouth
of those outside the gaming community at large and serves only to forward the detractors
of gaming culture. So I feel the time is right to finally confront
this notion of a divide between the truly dedicated and the slightly interested in the
end all be all battle I’m calling Hardcore vs. Casual: A Neverending Argument of Idiocy. Now, I wouldn’t dare say to you that the title
would be acceptable in the APA style that I’m so accustomed to, and it is tipping my
hand to my personal opinion on the subject, but I felt I should lay my feelings on this
matter right away for you. It’s refreshing to be as honest as possible
with this. I’ve seen many tackle this subject from time
to time trying to be objective, but having their own opinions blind their observations. It’s not wrong to have an opinion on this,
as you’ll soon see. It’s just best to be up front with it. So for this episode, we (as in the royal we
mind you) will explore the very core of this debate and try to find a deeper understanding
of where we as gamers are coming from on this. This exploration will take us to gamers of
all stripes, in an effort to find out what is hardcore and what is casual. We’ll discuss the possible reasons for gamers
to have such labels. We’ll look at what the impact this so called
war between the gamers has done to the culture as a whole, and we’ll see if we can finally
have a satisfying conclusion to all of this, for we have to understand what the reality
actually is. So strap yourselves in cuz this one is going
to be a doozie. But in order for us to come to a greater understanding
of this conflict, we must go back and start at the beginning. (pause) Oh man, did I just quote Bores there. Um… I didn’t mean to phrase it like… (cut to
title card: Too late! They saw it.) I won’t bore you with the finer points at
the beginning of video games. I’ll just make the vague ass of you and myself
in believing you know the story. The heady days of Ralph Baer and Nolan Bushnell,
along with the multiple consoles with “vision” in the title. The coin-ops, the cabinets, the more advanced
“candy cabinets”… you get the idea. It’s old hat to discuss the history of games. So let’s go beyond the games themselves, and
talk who was actually playing them. Pong’s a good place to start obviously. It’s humble beginnings were in the local bar
scene of Central California and the pioneers of gaming – the very epicenter of where the
idea of a gamer started — were guys slinging back some Pabst Blue Ribbon and looking to
pass the time. So yeah, video games were as relevant as a
decent pinball machine. But the dye had been cast and the gamer – for
lack of a better term – had been born. These gamers were a model of the simplicity
of the games that they played. But as the technology improved, the gamer
grew in complexity. This is where the emergence of the hardcore
gamer began to rear its ugly head. It was subtle at first. It usually took the form of the guy or gal
the hung around a wee bit too long on one machine, morphing slowly into the ones who
placed the quarters or tokens onto the cabinet to signal “next game”, and eventually to unpleasant
bravado that came from the “very best” players who shunned up and comers away. But something else was occurring during this
gamer ascendency; the rise of the home console gamer. The aforementioned early consoles provided
an adequate substitute for the arcade gamer in its similar complexity and re-playability. Gamers were primarily of a younger age, as
reflective of the simplicity of the games they represented. However, as with arcade gamers, the home console
gamers also began to evolve quite a bit. The technology improved with each new generation,
especially with the renaissance of PC gaming, eventually propelling the home market past
arcades completely. Gamers were constantly trying to catch up
to each new innovation or maxing out the capabilities of their CPU’s to accommodate the latest games. Cut to today where the gaming landscape is
now vast, with gamers – while differing in ages, sexes, and preferences – all represented
the juggernaut of wealth and entertainment that gaming has become today. Now again I have to stress that much of what
I just stated is not scientific in nature. Much of it is based upon observation and personal
experience. It’s a hard task to see a new culture have
life breathed into it for the first time. Anthropology is not really based on biology,
insomuch as the process begins in a primordial ooze and you see what materializes. It’s based on a lot of observation; noticing
trends, traits, social norms, and the like. Gaming culture also has these variables that
can be viewed and analyzed. Which is where this episode of the clash between
hardcore vs casual gamers truly begins. I’m sure a lot of you already have a general
idea from your own observations about what makes someone a hardcore or casual gamer. So let’s break it down to the very basics. Let’s start with the most obvious and the
most easily befitting one: The Length of Time Playing. Statistics are all over the place on the average
time gamers actually game. Most come from informal surveys and often
have mixed agendas on the subject. But a few consistencies present themselves
amongst the data. The Hardcore Gamer – in terms of length of
gameplay – is labeled to someone who games for from 15 to around 40 or more hours a week. This pretty wide gauge seems to be set for
a comparison to an average work week for a part time or full time work. Except in this case the “work” is replaced
by long gaming sessions. It’s safe for people to assume that someone
who plays games for those lengths would have a very vested interest. And thus someone who games for less than that
falls into the casual fold of gamers. But that might be getting a little too carried
away with the concept of what is a hardcore or casual gamer. You play a lot of games, you are therefore
a hardcore gamer. It’s pretty standard. You substitute gaming with reading, movie
watching, weightlifting, you get the same common observation; a hardcore subset of that
culture. But the truth must lie a little farther down
then that just simple play length. So we can move from this for a bit on to a
more substantive aspect of this “debate”; The Types of Games Played. This is also an aspect of the debate that
can be over-stressed. It’s a simple practice to make easy connections
between what gamers play and where their overall place in gaming culture lies. In psychology, this is called a heuristic;
using experience and learning to come to a satisfactory conclusion. In fact, this whole hardcore/casual notion
could caused by one large heuristic method of thinking amongst gamers. A concrete notion that gamers who play the
Gears of War series are hardcore, and those that play games like Bejeweled are casual;
and nary the tween shall meet. The influx of these easy to make flash games
and the advent of motion control have drawn a clear distinction between the gaming points
of view. There is also the supposition that those of
a certain age group – mainly those who fall on both sides of the 18-34 demographic – could
never fit inside the hardcore sphere since games are tailored to their needs alone. Basing all of your understanding of what it
means to be a hardcore/casual gamer on the games they play seems to be another easy way
to understand. But there is one final aspect to consider:
Gaming Knowledge & Nostalgia. All the time in the world playing games that
make heads explode – literally – mean nothing if you don’t know why that head exploded. Or… well, maybe not exactly that. But a knowledge of gaming is key into the
consideration. Hardcore gamers stake their claims to having
knowledge that exceeds those of the so called casual spectrum. They know the “in & outs”, the history, how
to actually play the damn game appropriately. More appropriately, it specifically refers
to involvement with games. Being ahead of the curve with the each generation,
opining the old days of the gaming media they love and have a contrarian attitude to the
advances of modern gaming. And there you go. It really comes down to length of time playing,
the types of games played, gaming knowledge… then you know when you’re a hardcore or casual
gamer. Of course… that’s not the whole story. It’s never, ever that simple. These three aspects do indeed dictate how
people view these types of gamers, that much is certain. It’s just how do we apply these aspects to
gamers and ourselves. Let’s explore it a little deeper. Hardcore gamers play lots and lots of games. Yeah, seems right. They play these games for great lengths of
time. And not just games, hardcore games. Games meant to test your mettle and dexterity. Sure. Problem is that those defined as casual gamers
do this as well. According to recent study by Lightspeed Research
of those who use social networking sites, 58% of those surveyed claimed to have played
a social networking game of some kind. Of those, 29% play the games daily with another
24% playing several times a day. It breaks down even further with 24% playing
up to two hours a day and 10% playing two hours or more. But the most stunning number from this study
is 17%; the respondents who feel they are “addicted” to playing these games. Addicted eh? I did mention in a previous episode that there
is some grumbling within the mental health community about the impact that the length
of time gaming might have on the psyche of the gamer. Though the mental health community seemed
to focus on the more “hardcore” games as opposed to these simple “casual” games. But why gloss over them? These so described casual games offer the
perfect rebuttal for every hardcore argument. The main arguments for what is a hardcore/casual
gamer really comes down to gaming aptitude. If you look at the length of time argument,
you would know that this is a poor gauge for gaming aptitude. The average age of a gamer is 34 years old
and they have generally been playing games for 12 years. So they know games, but lack the sufficient
time to play the games due to the commitments of a job, family, or other concerns to be
considered a hardcore gamer. Casual games are generally an easy pick up
& play option that offer a great amount of gameplay in short bursts that can perfectly
accommodate those who don’t have the time they used to have to play games. Plus they reverse the notion that only a certain
type of game fits with a certain type of gamer. Most of the debate comes from the transition
that gaming seems to be going through right now. For right now the major companies have seen
the fruits of the motion controls of the Wii and followed up with their own iterations. This has caused the lines in the gaming community
to be clearly drawn and for self-described hard core gamers to exclaim the death of game
advancement. The hardcore side felt that those who picked
up on these new motion control do dads were denigrating the advances of the past. But these are also the same types of gamers
that have opined for the simpler form of gaming; picking up and play, easy game saves, easy
controls, actual gameplay over long cinematics. These motion control games offer all of this. Each game system that advanced always had
something more intricate to it. Though graphics were the obvious ones, the
control scheme is the prime example. One button, two buttons, seven buttons, analog
stick; it set people at odds for something easy to pick up on to something you needed
to invest a great amount of time. More complicated control scheme led to more
complicated gameplay; more complicated gameplay led to a drop off in gamers. As stated earlier, gamers evolved, but not
ALL gamers. Some were left behind. So game makers saw a need to reinvigorate
the gamer population and continued to expand handheld systems to keep a steady flow of
gamers, and came up with a motion control solution to the more advanced consoles. And what about the rise of the rhythm games
as of late? DDR, Guitar Hero, DJ Hero, Rock Band… all
of them are easy to pick up and play. Hell, they are all glorified color coated
Simon games. But you can’t deny those who have dedicated
a good chunk of their time trying to complete the most complicated color coated combinations
on Expert. I have seen some claim that those types of
games show a so called “bridge” between the casual and hardcore gamers. However I think if you look at it more critically,
it exemplifies that the types of game a particular gamer do not make. If you fall into that 34 year old, 12 year
average demographic I mentioned then you had to have played games with only a two button
interface with simplistic graphics and linear gameplay. And you had the time to play those games because
you had fewer responsibilities (i.e. school, chores, etc.) We all have to start this long and glorious
road of gaming somewhere. So criticizing the simplicity of some current
generation hardware seems to be… hypocritical. But what about gamer knowledge? Nostalgia can cloud our judgement and cause
us to harken back to a more “primitive” time in gaming. The old control schemes, gameplay, etc. The hardcore gamer beating his chest and stating
that those today don’t realize what they are missing from the past, and especially the
knowledge of the history of games. It’s true that you can be a “better” gamer
by knowing the old ways and the history, but that doesn’t make you any better than any
other gamer. It can be counterproductive to the entire
culture. Basically the notion goes; Trying to be the
best gamer doesn’t always bring out the “best” in gamers. So why do we constantly try to label gamers
this way? The great literary mind of Christopher Hitchens
is fond of saying that as humans, we are all pattern seeking animals who would take a bogus
theory over no theory at all. And this is very true with respect to video
game culture. We as gamers seek to easily label fellow gamers
mainly out of a sense of expediency that most cultures have been doing since the beginning. Skipping the layers of complexity that the
human condition offers. This is seen in many other types of cultures. There is always a self described hardcore
element found within. I mentioned weightlifting earlier. Even an outsider like myself can attest that
they are those who are little more into than others. But let’s find something a little more similar
to gaming culture. Cinema culture seems to be one the obvious
ones. You have those within that culture who claim
to watch more movies, have a deeper knowledge of the vast history of cinema, and watch a
wide variety of avant-garde and AAA features, while also looking down with patronizing eyes
at so called “popcorn” flicks. Using the three factors I’ve presented to
label gamers, you see a pattern that is often seen in many other cultures from sports, to
art, to music, and literature. I’ve even seen this pattern in the wonderful
world of Crossword Puzzles. This interesting culture of puzzles was displayed
brilliantly in the 2006 movie Wordplay. So you have everything from movies, to trivia
games, crossword puzzles, and even sudoku. A pear…? As you can tell, gaming culture is not alone
in identifying a hardcore and casual element within their respective cultures. And often they use the three-pronged pattern
I alluded to. Now let’s go into the technical facets of
why we as gamers label. There is the factor known as Enculturation. This is a key concept that drives the study
of anthropology, and is usually combined with aspects of socialization. It details the process by which a person learns
the requirements of the culture by which they are surrounded. Those involved in the culture acquire the
values and behaviors that seem appropriate and necessary in that culture. It seems very fitting for gaming culture at
large. Fitting in the sense that gamers aspire to
be the type of gamer they believe they should be from their own observations. They collect what they perceive to be the
absolute need of gaming culture in order to best assimilate. What seems appropriate for some can be a full
dedication to and by going above and beyond the craft, thus tilting towards a perceived
hardcore slant, and others may deem it necessary to absorb just enough knowledge of gaming
culture to tilt towards the casual slant. But that still leaves those in the middle. So what of them? There is also the factor of Enculturation. This is a key concept that drives the study
of anthropology, and is usually combined with aspects of socialization. It details the process by which a person learns
the requirements of the culture by which they are surrounded. Those involved in the culture acquire the
values and behaviors that seem appropriate and necessary in that society. It seems very fitting for gaming culture at
large. You remember this guy I showed you earlier? Well, he’s Howard S. Becker, renowned sociologist
who came up with a refined version of what is known as the Labeling Theory. This theory describes how self-identity and
behavior of an individual is influenced – or even created – by how that individual is categorized
and described by others. Culture involves many attitudes and behavior
characteristics along with the ideas of a people. Ideas that can influence a gamer’s identity
to push their love of games to limit and begin to identify others of the varying degrees
of their own involvement in the culture. Becker opened up a deeper understanding of
why labeling occurs in a social construct, and involves the nature of deviance. Now I know that you associate “deviance” with…
acts that reside in your own mind, but deviance in this sense deals with that acts within
a culture. Becker laid it deviance as “a consequence
of the application by others of rules and sanctions to an “offender.” That “social groups create deviance by making
rules whose infraction creates deviance, and by applying those roles to particular people
and labeling them as outsiders.” Gaming culture – along with many others – has
these informal rules and social norms known as “folkways.” They are the types of habits that are for
newcomers to accommodate to, but are strictly enforced. Usually any violation involves a warning or
some kind of admonishment. Becker expounds that those who do not follow
along with these folkways are deemed as deviant in that cultural structure. Somewhere in the culture of gaming, it became
an acceptable practice for someone to be hardcore. Using the Becker’s method, we can postulate
that this started out as a deviance for that culture, as the folkways were mainly just
playing the games and passing the time. But though the label was meant to condemn,
it instead reenforced the “deviant” behavior of the individual and was used to justify
the hardcore gamer’s actions. Now it seems that the acceptable folkways
of gaming have tilted towards a more hardcore outlook, and the casual gamer now manifests
as the deviance. I won’t be able to give Dr. Becker’s studies
and conclusions any true justice concerning the topic of labeling and deviance in this
short section, as I only touched on his theories to lend understanding to the nature of gaming’s
hardcore/casual debate. So I implore you to check out the information
on your own, especially his landmark book Outsiders that details the subject in full. As far as the overall reason for labeling,
there is no concrete answer. Though it’s a widely believed there is a modern
prohibition against lazy stereotyping, it’s also widely known that it still know it exists. Gamers will easily label each other out of
laziness just as anyone outside would do. It can’t be stated enough that there are forces
from without and within that try to label us as either casual or hardcore. The “within” has many more nuances and advanced
sociological and anthropological factors to consider. The “without” is easier to understand. Fear of the other is a concept that’s as old
as society itself. It’s present in the modern xenophobic notions
of the most ardent believer to the most isolated tribal community. And it is definitely a factor from outsiders
looking in to gaming culture. From the self-proclaimed champions of children’s
welfare to the aptly described “no fun squad”, there are always those looking at gamer culture
who exhibit the traits found in “fear of the other”; suspicion, distrust, misrepresentation,
and a good dose of labeling. And these outside forces can have an impact
on the gamers. We’re talking associative learning, operant
conditioning; think Pavlov or B.F. Skinner; associating violent video games and poor gaming
behavior with a hardcore element and allowing a positive reinforcement in the form of praise
– within reason – of the burgeoning “casual” games and those who play them. Again it’s not a glimmering link as to why
these labels of hardcore and casual exist, but it is something for you to consider the
next time you hear about the next outrage du jour over a “hardcore” gamer interspersed
between fluff articles of the current crop of “casual” games. Fear of the other allows those on the outside
looking in to point a finger at the apparent “dysfunction” of the hardcore gamer, using
the factors I presented earlier as fodder for their hyperbolic claims. And also to prop up the so described casual
gamer as a viable alternative. But in the end, these outside forces really
don’t drive the debate as much as the gamers themselves. There is always going to be a tension between
a culture such as gaming and the global cultures at large. It’s the nature of things. It doesn’t require either side to give an
inch, but it does require a little bit of consideration and a little bit of understanding
in order for all to truly thrive. There’s something else to consider. Unrealized or not, there has definitely been
an impact from this hardcore/casual confrontation and man it ain’t pretty. Time to dive in the muck and the madness. Cultural hierarchy was one of my propositions
to help explain why gamers get angry at games, though that was more of a running theory than
actual proven fact. However there is something to it in this case. Self proclaimed hardcore gamers have taken
their place in gaming culture’s hierarchy in terms of the “haves” and have designated
the so described casual gamers as the “have nots.” The latter mean that “have not” the gaming
knowledge, the time, and the proper games. It could also have a physical application
as the early days of gaming involved the hardcore element owning the most gaming – be it consoles,
games, or accessories – and leaving all the others in the dust. That was the effect that the filmmakers were
trying to convey with Lucas from The Wizard and is mere possession of the Power Glove,
though obviously that argument of having more swag – or crap in this case – is negligible
at best. There was indeed a good amount of jealously
to be found amongst the kiddies that had more than one console at their house, or even this
thing. It sets up a easy scenario based upon the
notion of the rich vs. the poor, which is indeed a hierarchal structure, but a little
to broad of a structure to scrutinize for just gamers. It’s a good place to start though, adding
to the pretension that home console gamers were beginning to exude. This pretension only got worse in the digital
age. A steady crop of sites and forums dedicated
to retro gaming sprung up out of a desire for nostalgia. But what began with the best intentions to
remember the old ways of gaming soon devolved into a litmus test for those with the greatest
gaming knowledge, and leaving others not even with the ability to question the past without
getting slapped down. Not to mention the more marquee websites out
there that have unfortunately allowed a framework for degradation of gamers that do not follow
the “accepted” paradigm set forth. It’s not true for all of these sites mind
you. There are plenty of great sites out there
that don’t worry about who is hardcore or casual and other petty arguments. The point is that you no longer have to travel
to another’s house to encounter such affectation; it could now be ported right to your own home
through the wonders of internet, and in the realm online gaming. Again I’ve mentioned this before. People screaming in your ear about you sucking
because they’ve dedicated the time to the game, know the in’s and outs, lolfag, etc.
etc. It is important to remember this in the overall
quandary of the hardcore/casual debate. It is usually generated from gamers considering
themselves hardcore and not being very circumspect with their statements. In my travels I have heard many scream about
gamers they perceive as not hacking it to go back to games that are “more their style”
– in other words – casual and not worthy of attention or respect. It’s comical and somewhat easy to ignore,
much like the slings and arrows faced by the hardcore elements found on online forums. Mentioning it leads me to what I think might
be the most pernicious influences from the hardcore/casual debate; the treatment of female
gamers. Let’s face it; female gamers are most certainly
outnumbered by their male brethren to varying degrees depending on what statistics you follow. And unfortunately that disparity has led to
the conventional wisdom being that “girls do not play video games.” Or if they do, they fall on the spectrum of
either a pathetic girl with no life or a sexy girl with no brains. Either way, they are perceived to be casual
gamers and nothing more. Unfortunate slander to be sure, and probably
not helped by the online videos of scantily clad girls forcing themselves to play games
for the amusement of a few. This conventional wisdom is a amusing misnomer
for all female gamers if you really think about. From my own experience, I know many girl gamers
that have played the most self described hardcore games with varying degrees of excellence. It’s a moronic statement that female gamers
only pine for games about “girly” things or are posers pretending to be into the more
hardcore fare. And here’s where it gets reaaaaaally not funny. I came upon a great website entitled Fat,
Ugly, or Slutty.com. The name is derived from the notion that if
you are female and you game, you are either fat, ugly, or slutty. Great in a sense that it really opened my
eyes to where this hardcore/casual debate has officially gone over the edge. Three female gamers were fed up with the abuse
they received in various online forums and created a compendium of said insults – and
even outright threats – that they and other female gamers receive on a daily basis. If you have the patience, I implore you to
go through this site with very open eyes and understand why this nonsense has to stop. This really stuck in my crawl. It’s beyond overstatement to say how deplorable
some gamers can be, and it seems to be a pervasive sentiment entrenched in gaming culture. That hardcore is the way to go and casual
is an unwelcome usurper that should be threatened and lambasted back to obscurity. And if you observe it closely, you see that
the real villain in this saga might not be the gamers themselves, but more likely the
ones who in charge making the games themselves. Gaming companies have spent a great deal of
time and money in making gamers want games. They have strived to push the demographics
of gaming even further by introducing these new game innovations. And for the most part, they have succeeded. But these same companies have also exacerbated
the supposed hardcore/casual divide. You see this especially in the marketing of
their products over the last 15 years, which corresponds with the early generations coming
of age. There was certainly a gradual progression
to more hardcore ads for games and consoles as time went by, making it clear that each
generation had to be more mature than the rest. And they – whether they meant to or not – created
a divide. A divide that they marketed with gusto. Remember associate learning & conditioning? Advertisements are made to influence people,
subtly or overtly. They influenced the early adopters and a new
generation of gamers into believing this divide was real. And they also used the new media capabilities
of the world wide web to influence gamers on a scale never before realized until a perception
was gained. The perception that the gaming corporations
exploit to convince gamers to put in the long hours, to collect all of the games, and – as
the current view of the gaming industry has presented – accept games that are now more
expensive, have shoe horned features, and content only accessed through pay for play
downloads. Not to mention the “casual” market they prop
up. Releasing a great amount of shovel-ware games
to appeal to a greater market and simultaneously alienating the hardcore gamers they built
up. To the point where they feel the need to introduce
“hardcore” notions to “casual” concepts, and otherwise making an even bigger mess of things
and hurting gaming altogether. And when you combine all the factors; the
employing of game companies marketing, gamers at large are influenced by this and responds
as such, giving substance to misinformed factoids about how gamers are perceived, all flowing
through the web via social media, online forums, and internet gaming, and back again. It’s a continuous cycle. It now seems amplified by another factor that’s
crawling from the web portion: the self-described spokesperson’s of gaming. I only want to touch on this for a moment,
but it is important. The rise of internet personalities has created
additional problems of those who are perceived as poser’s to gaming or those who have proclaimed
themselves the champions of all gamers. A proclamation that is unfounded and very
much unwarranted. Gaming doesn’t need a spokesman. It speaks for itself and is open to all comers. And the main problem with having one is that
it builds resentment within gamers in two ways: resentment that the spokesman is not
a representative of their particular interests (i.e. a hardcore/casual enthusiast), or that
someone would have the gall to claim to be a spokesman for all gamers. The latter grouping also seem to exacerbate
all of the traits that gaming companies believe all gamers display. Again I don’t want to point out any individual
or collective by name, but just to show you that just like the retro websites and forums
before them, these internet personalities may be inadvertently making this divide greater
and letting it fully manifest in the eyes of gamers and outsiders alike. I mean you’ve seen me throughout this video
changing into various gaming shirts. Yeah, I have a lot of gaming shirts. This room is covered in gaming posters and
various gaming awesomeness. I have these Mario candies (spit em out). I’m wearing a freaking Sonic snuggie! Does any of this make me a hardcore gamer? A casual gamer? Better question: does this make me a better
gamer than you, or anyone else? Sure it makes me look classy, stylish, and
a huge dork but it doesn’t make me a better gamer for having it. Nor should any conclusions be made as to a
manufactured status I might claim in gaming culture. So, what exactly do I want you to take away
from this episode. If anything, I would like you to question
the existence of a hardcore gamer or casual gamer. I refer to it as “idiocy” out of my own subjective
opinion because there is really nothing concrete to this. What is hardcore to one gamer is casual to
another, or vice versa. The definition just seems so schizophrenic
in places. Is this what we want, I mean, is this good
culture? If not, what makes a good culture? Gaming by its very nature is intended to be
social. It began with it’s initial offering of social
interaction in the arcades of old and continues even stronger with PC & home consoles expansion
to even greater online play. The newer innovations expand demographics
and open up for people – who do not relate to gaming – to have their own “moment” where
they making gaming an important aspect of their life. Famed anthropologist Alfred Kroeber’s influential
“superorganic” notion views culture as having almost a life of its own, molding each individual
far more than the individual molds culture. I believe this is the best way to look at
this overall argument of hardcore and casual gaming. Yeah, there are times when these new innovations
could be construed as counterproductive or even deplorable in some circles, but it’s
best for all gamers to understand the minutia in all facets of gaming. Remember: anthropology is based on a lot of
observation. In a way, we are all like anthropologists. We can each observe gaming and try to understand
it in our own way. We always refer to gaming as a community. It’s most basic definition pertaining to a
group of people claiming a similar trait: video games. It’s stands at the center, with a Venn Diagram
making up the rest of the quirks and idiosyncrasies. If gamers continue to break up this diagram
in a vain attempt at easy labeling, they establish an unfalsifiable argument; an argument that
can never be easily proven and truly not as easy to disprove. Whether you agree with that notion or not,
you have to look deep down within and realize that none of this matters. Not what they say, not what the mighty gaming
corporations say, and to an extent, not even what I say. You know what you like, you know what you
want, and you know you are a gamer without the extra sub-labels attached. As with all things I observe, I don’t have
the answers. This is not a self-righteous crusade on my
part, nor do I claim to speak for gamers. I’m always trying to find a way to better
understand things. What I do know is that we as gamers have to
finally move away from this faux battle of the hardcore and casual gamers. We only serve to make it easier for detractors
to paint all gamers with a broad brush while simultaneously alienating newcomers to the
medium. A culture survives and thrives by opening
up and including more into the fold. True there is still the old hankering to revert
back to the exclusivity that gaming once bred; the activity that a collection of geeks would
partake in leui of other activities. But those days are over. The dam has bursted and gaming is much more
mainstream and inclusive than ever before. And it really is a good thing. Let me leave you with this: a video of my
friend Eric – known to many of you guys as Asalieri. He told me about how he had to sell off his
gaming collection a few years back. A regretful, but necessary decision on his
part. So I decided to do something I implore all
those who are able to do: give the gift of gaming. Just look at that; here it’s not about how
the game is old, nostalgic, or in need of gentrification. Just how multiple demographics feel about
the games. And that’s what it is truly all about. I’m the Game Anthropologist, bringing you
closer – even if a small family at time – to gaming culture.

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