Earlier today I had an enjoyable discussion with some friends about why a lot of PC gamers seem to believe that consoles are holding back PC gaming—something I will share my thoughts on in the future. During the conversation there arose this distinction between ‘casual gamers’ and ‘core gamers’ (or ‘hardcore gamers’). It was not the first time I’ve heard gamers make that distinction.
I believe it is a thoroughly pointless and useless distinction though, and I’ll explain why.
Where I’m Coming From
I was born in 1984. Video games have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I grew up around both console and PC gaming, and all was right in the world.
Except for one thing: American society in general ostracized gamers. Because I spent so much time playing games people thought of me as a nerd, a dork, anti-social, et cetera. The prevailing opinion was that the only people who played games were children and adults who never learned to grow up and be a functioning citizen.
I loved video games though. And I wanted other people to share my passion. I believed that if the critics of video games gave those games a fair chance then they would realize the medium had much to offer, that it was not some poison of the mind or a mere juvenile distraction.
Fast-Forward to Today
I am twenty-eight years old at the time I’m writing this. Video games have become a tremendous presence in the entertainment industry of American culture. I see advertisements for video games everywhere: on television, at movie theaters, billboards, on the wrapper around my cheese-burger.
I got my wish. Everyone plays games now.
Ok—so not everyone plays video games. But there are so many gamers now that the stigma of my childhood is gone. In fact, now it’s the opposite: “What do you mean you don’t play video games? Is something wrong with you?” There are even people out there making their living as professional gamers.
We should be happy. Everyone is a gamer now. So what’s the problem?
The Problem is Everyone is a Gamer
There is a vocal portion of the gaming population that apparently feels insulted and violated by the idea that a person who plays Angry Birds five hours a week is a ‘gamer’. They treat ‘gamer’ as a holy name, one which ‘casuals’ have tainted with their two-dollar puzzle games on their smart-phones and tablets. The only games real gamers play are Insert Your Favorite Multiplayer PC/Console First-Person Shooter Here.
If you are one of the 150 million people who has downloaded and played Bejeweled, and that’s all you really play, and you call yourself a gamer—that is fantastic! Bejeweled is a great game and if you enjoy it, then that’s great for you. And if you’re one of the 40 million people playing Call of Duty, that’s great for you too! I am just happy that so many people are enjoying video games!
But look at those numbers. That pisses some people off. Are that many more people really playing Bejeweled instead of a ‘real’ game like Call of Duty? That can’t be right, can it?
Time to be blunt: ‘Hardcore gamers’ are the minority.
I did not grow up thinking that video games belonged to me, as most so-called hardcore gamers seem to think. I grew up feeling as if video games were a secret treasure I’d discovered that everyone wrote off as Fool’s Gold. If only they’d believe me…. Well now everyone does, so I am happy. There is no damage to my ego or pride as a gamer because there are hundreds of millions of people who play nothing more than Angry Birds on their phones during lunch breaks at the office. Those people are gamers too. Why? Because they play video games.
There is absolutely nothing positive about trying to draw a line in the sand between casual gamers and hardcore gamers. Only people on one side of that line gives a damn. The rest of us are having fun playing games.