Wednesday, March 7, 2012

HARDCORE GAMING

Hardcore gaming is focused on becoming proficient; casual gaming is playing for diversion (this study cites a few more motivations, that is, excitement, fantasy, and interacting with others. I believe proficiency/diversion is the distinguishing motivation between hardcore and casual). There is a lot of overlap between casual and hardcore gaming, but some games are only playable and fun with a hardcore mindset. 

I was thinking of blogging about how fighting over a princess and feeding her to make her harder to steal is a kind of terrible premise, but I realized that wasn't news.
When I first started playing Fat Princess, I wanted to spend time with my husband, Acius, and his family. I was vaguely interested in doing well, but I didn't understand why sometimes my team won and sometimes it didn't. Acius got sick and played a lot more of the game, and found out how it works (getting metal early on is important for upgrades like bombs and catapults). I was playing as a casual gamer and he was playing as a hardcore gamer. Since Fat Princess is a multiplayer team game, I could still have fun playing the game even if I didn't understand what was going on. However, some games aren't as forgiving.

I started playing Devil Survivor 2 because I wanted to have a recent release to write about for when I apply to write for Pop Matters (I have some ideas! It's just going to take another two days to beat it, which I realize isn't necessary to write about the game, but I want to play it safe. Also, maybe I'm too ambitious to try writing for them, but I won't know until I try!). Firstly, I realized that I actually do like JRPGS, and secondly, I couldn't progress in the game unless I started actually strategizing about what skills to put in what teams. I couldn't play the game casually; every move mattered (and grinding was ineffective!). At first I was frustrated, but soon it felt refreshing to be challenged by the game, and it made me want to know more about how the game works. If a game can only be beaten with a hardcore approach, that's what qualifies it as a hardcore game. However, it's much more effective to describe play styles as hardcore or casual, since many games can be played either way.

Super Mario Galaxy is one of those games that appeals to either style of play, though it requires some proficiency. Players don't have to collect every star to beat the game--but the option is there. Kirby's Epic Yarn has bonus levels for doing well in boss fights, but the no-dying aspect of the game is clearly aimed at younger players. In my mind, the best "casual" games can also be played with a hardcore play style. There's also something really satisfying about playing a game intended for only a hardcore play style. Also, sometimes I write chatty-style, I think I am okay with this.


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