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:
I knew that psychology degree would come in handy one day.
More on Chaos later.