Great Posts III: Hardcore vs. Casual

Over at Stylish Corpse, Ysharros asks what the dividing line between hardcore and casual is.

Its a great question, and I think I have an answer (note the “an” as opposed to “the”).

Hardcores aren’t there to have fun (bear with me here).  At least not the fun intrinsic to the game itself, but perhaps fun sourced at what gaming allows for – a place to shine in competition.

Example: I know a guy who maxed every character class in WoW, maxed loot drops, perfected every raid strategy, etc.  Last month he moved to EQ2.  He stayed up 24 hours straight to do betrayal quests and hit level 30 in his first day.  Less than 48 hours later, he was at 40.  To him, EQ2 was not fun because it was EQ2, but because it was an opportunity to compete, and he wanted to win.

He was hardcore – don’t forget that hardcore in this frame of reference is not a defined noun, but an adjective.  And it modifies “gamer.”  Casual players play games, hardcore players play games to win.   They play games as a means to an end.

If I’m right, this explains the simmering tension and sometimes hostility associated with the hardcore/casual divide.

Casual players do not understand how a gamer can lock themselves into a single game and play it over and over, sometimes ignoring large parts of the game as designed to focus on perfecting a single element or subskill relative to that game.  Hardcore players do not understand why casual players are so unmotivated, lazy and uncaring.

Casual players do not understand why Hardcore players would pay $15 a month for internet game competition when they could easily get internet game competition in copious amounts for free.  Hardcore players wonder what kind of idiot would pay $15 a month for such a rich and detailed competition and then refuse to compete. 

Casual gamers wonder why these people are invading their fantasy realms and demeaning them by treating them as just another game.  Hardcore players wonder why these people treat these games as somehow special or different from any other game they pick up off the shelf at Buy N Large.

Or, to somehow dissolve the divide into an easy stereotype, while still being fully aware of all the advantages and disadvantages of doing so, let me sum it up for you:

Casual players = relationship oriented.

Hardcore players = task oriented.

I knew that psychology degree would come in handy one day.

More on Chaos later.

2 thoughts on “Great Posts III: Hardcore vs. Casual

  1. ysharros

    I like. More food for thought, and links to follow. I coulda shoulda woulda done psych at college except the stats put me off (or I was told they would), and in the end I liked literature better. 😉
    The thing is, of course, the divide itself isn’t crystal-clear. In some things I am *very* hardcore, like crafting (if I like the system), though only up to a certain point — the line I try not to cross is the fun/not fun line. In other things I am beyond casual, such as the acquisition of stuff — the more “important” the stuff (gear mostly), the less I care. The fluffier the stuff, the more I’m likely to want it.
    I like to be perverse that way.

  2. There are no absolutes, which may blur the thin line of categorising people like this. However, the active fanatic raiders in WoW tend to stick to the fanatics, as well as some WAR PvP freaks.

    Death to all fanatics I say.

    I’ll get me coat.


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