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An Ongoing Tribute to my own lameness.....

General random thoughts about gaming, both within and outside of the MMO genre.

Author: Jimmy_Scythe

Hardcore Gamers

Posted by Jimmy_Scythe Sunday July 20 2008 at 1:51PM
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Fuck Hardcore gamers.

This is the line I used to begin a thread in the pub last week. I actually think that it must have set a record for shortest time to deletion. I got banned for a day over this post, and rightfully so. But I did mean every word. I've had some time to mull over my post and revise it considerably. Not only have I made the message less personal and more anonymous. I've come to realize that the situation isn't quite as pessimistic as I believed at the time of writing. None of this, however, changes the fact that the direction, and public perception, of gaming culture is driven by the so-called “hardcore elite” crowd.

We all know the gamer stereotype. Pale. Fat. Unemployed. Supremely unfamiliar with either the touch of a woman or the scent of soap... Spending all day, everyday camped in front of an overpriced electronic toy, or PC game, that's designed specifically to amuse preteen and teenage boys. The reason this image infuriates us as gamers is because it doesn't even describe most of us, let alone all of us. Unfortunately, it does describe a small, vocal and very visible number of us.

So how small of a minority are the hardcore gamers? To begin with, you have to track the number of gamers that there are. In the United States, it's estimated that about 65% of all households own a console or a PC that they use for gaming. According to an NPD survey, only about 65% of those gamers play games online. That translates to about 120,900,000 people. Of that number, 50,778,000 are women. Even more shocking, 85,800,000 online players predominately play puzzle, card and arcade games (think Pac Man). 48,750,000 online gamers only play “family-oriented games and only about 79,950,000 consider themselves avid PC gamers. There's some overlap in those numbers, but consider that there are probably only about five million people playing MMORPGs and another couple million playing Halo or Counter-Strike in the U.S., then throw in the fact that almost half of all gamers in the United States are offline, playing Madden or Guitar Hero, and you begin to understand just how small the “hardcore” gamer population really is.

What's really sick is that the hard core are actually proud of this minority status. Hardcore gamers seem to be under the delusion that being able to get 2000 lines in Tetris, 50 to 1 kill ratios in Counter-Strike, Tier 100 epic gear in World of Everclone, etc., somehow entitles them to a MENSA club membership. That somehow the interactivity of video gaming makes it a more intelligent medium than Books, movies and music which all have THOUSANDS of years of refinement and actual artistic depth. Yep, the hardcore play games and that makes them smarter than all the Literary English and Fine Arts Ph.Ds on earth. As fuckin' if. Just because you set up velvet ropes around yourself doesn't mean that you're special. Unfortunately, those velvet ropes attract the kind of shallow, status seeking fucknuts that ruin everybody else's fun.

The arrogance factor of the “hardcore” actually has two parts. The first being with games themselves. To a greater or lesser extent, we all play games to feel a sense of accomplishment. This has been true for centuries. It's the whole reason why sports are such a huge part of high school. Games give us a sense that we're competent and allow us to demonstrate that competence to others. Games also give us a very clear and concise way to compare ourselves to others. Most of the hardcore will go on for hours about how stupid it is for some “dumb jock” to use basketball as a measure of self worth and then turn around and brag about their stats and achievements in whatever game they happen to be obsessing over this week. And maybe this offers a key as to why there's so much hate directed at specific games. If you aren't playing the same game I am, I can't determine how you measure up to me! This is why those “dumb jocks” were so condescending to anyone that wasn't on the football team. If you didn't play football, you didn't rank. Not surprisingly, the chess club did the same shit.

The second element of hardcore arrogance is what I like to call nerd angst. It goes kinda like this: In order to cope with social rejection in the face of extreme social anxiety, the nerd constructs a delusion that everyone else is just jealous of his/her intellectual gifts and obvious superiority. To this end, they seek out other nerds and do things that are deemed “smart,” usually involving massive amounts of basic arithmetic, reading or both. Secure within this small support group, they and their new friends gleefully spiral downward in a cycle of ever expanding alienating behavior in the face of social alienation. Tragically, most never grow out of this. The worst case scenarios end up as the snarky, hateful forum warriors and asshat chat spammers that define the public opinion of gaming culture.

And that's a bad thing because not only have the hardcore taken something that many people enjoy and turned it into a colossal pissing contest, but they also push potential gamers away from the hobby. This is compounded by the fact that the demands of the hardcore have fueled trends that have lead to massively inbred game design and further distanced this hobby, not only from the mainstream, but from what made gaming fun in the first place.

You do remember fun right? It's that sensation that made you want to continue playing a game even when it was impossible or unending. It was what separated playing games from working on an assembly line. It's the reason that normal people play games. But not hardcore gamers.

As an example, let's look at the length of games. Hardcore gamers demand games that go on for AT LEAST 60 hours. Of course, even if the game does have over 80 hours of content, the hardcore “elite” still bitch that the game was too short because they burned through it in less than two weeks.

Fun Fact: Most people Don't even watch 60 hours of a single TV series. Most TV shows are broken up into manageable chunks of 30 minutes to an hour. Hell, one season of a prime time drama may only go on for about 10 to 15 episodes which translates to about seven and a half hours max. Aside from The Simpsons, name one TV series that went over five seasons. In short, the hardcore are demanding that everyone spends more time, in one week or two weeks no less, on one game than they do on a single TV show over the course of said show's entire running length. And if someone is unwilling to commit that kind of time, then hardcore gamers label those people as retards with ADHD. And since Hardcore gamers are the most vocal, developers cave to their demands and make monstrously long games that they know the majority of gamers won't bother to complete. It doesn't end there, and a quick glance at the schizophrenic demands of the hardcore will give you some truly fascinating insight into why core gaming is in such a sorry state.

Anything about a game that's too different the hardcore labels as "lame, gimmicky, bullshit." Any attempt to make a game more accessible to people not already entrenched in any given genre they rag on the game for being "dumbed down." Any attempt to streamline an interface or control scheme for smoother play gets accused of "lacking depth." Any game that hits all the conventions of a genre is poo pooed as a "clone." it really doesn't matter what a game does because the hardcore will fabricate some asinine reason why this or that game isn't filling the undefinable void in their life. I wonder if they've ever considered that problem might not be with the game?

I can only think of one other entertainment medium that produces contend based on the demands of a vocal minority: comic books. Despite the best efforts of people like Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore and Art Spiegelman, comic books still occupy a slimy, superhero fanboy ghetto. If the medium had spent time aiming for a more mainstream audience and developing the medium as an art, rather than catering to a few loudmouth man-children for the better part of fifty years, you'd probably be able to buy quality comic books in regular bookstores. As it is, you have to don a trench coat and hat, turn your collar up and hope that no one recognizes you in front of the rather ratty looking shop the specializes in comic books. If the gaming industry continues to follow the demands of hardcore gamers, this same situation could happen to us.

But there is good news. There's been a recent explosion in casual games. What's more, Wii Sports actually moved more consoles than Halo 3 or Metal Gear solid 4. We're also seeing a lot more artistic games such as Everyday Shooter and fl0w. The industry is finally figuring out that there is more money to be made by catering to the general public than a handful of socially awkward, arrogant, misogynistic, shut ins with borderline asperger syndrome. And it's about damn time!

cheers

megaflux19 writes:

there is no such thing as art. DEFINATELY not in modern media (movies...gtfo)

is it nerd angst that prompted you to post this shit?

do you think there is more of a point to crying in a blog than there is to achieving in a game?

yea, were real assholes becuase we DONT play games to suck at them.

tv shows are like 23 min...mr. factoid.

alan moore wrote 1 decent thing in his life...you little pop-culture dweeb.

my advice to you ya softie= grow a set, stop crying, and stick to spectating, you plainly cant hang.

Sun Jul 20 2008 2:11PM Report
Cursedsei writes:

guessing thats a good example of nerd angst right there from mega huh lol

Generally speaking, TV shows are a half hour long, only people who love to nitpick and feel smarter would point out that small fact.

And of course, the elite would never consider anything art, because for something to be art, it has to be an expression of something, emotions or a point in time. To a hardcore gamer, they alone are art huh? :P

Sun Jul 20 2008 2:32PM Report
wolfmann writes:

Heh, in Norway you don't need to wear a trenchcoat to buy a comic.

They are sold everywhere, in every grocery6 store, gasstation and 7'eleven....

Why? Because somehow in Norway you won't be "nerded" if you don't grow up into this serious working 3 jobs "don't have a life" adult.

Heck, in Norway, you're the nerd if you turn into the latter...

 

Somehow some nations have forgotten to play and have fun, and being an adult is "serious business".

Sun Jul 20 2008 2:59PM Report
CreepingDoom writes:

Good read as always Jimmy, keep em comin'

Sun Jul 20 2008 3:01PM Report
JB47394 writes:

I hate to break it to you, but most every activity on the face of the planet is dominated by the hardcore.  The hardcore are the people who are so enamored of something that they give it inordinate amounts of their time and energy.  When a company asks a question, they are the ones who jump up and say something nice and loud.  It doesn't matter if its baby food or YouTube, the people who get heard are the ones who yell the loudest, and the people who are most involved have the best reason to yell loud.  "The squeaky wheel gets the grease"

If what you say about the MMORPG enthusiasts is true, then it is simply the case that people who are very much enamored of the current MMORPG experience tend to be relatively immature.

I've written about this general phenomenon before; the game experience that you create determines the type of people that play your game.  Me, I'd never go near the stock MMORPG formula because of the sort of people that are hardcore about it.  In any customer base there are always the immature, but carefully choosing the form of entertainment that you provide can help keep that number to a minimum.

Sun Jul 20 2008 3:47PM Report
Unive writes:

You seem like a modern day stereotypical bigot to me.  You people that like to do or act in a wide variety of ways to be all Hard core gamers. If a guy wants 100 tier gear to look cool and earn some reputation in the game but hes not an ass. You would still call him a Hardcore.  Honestly you seem like an upset casual gamer that life kinda blows and you dont have enough time to play as much as hardcore gamers do so you right this completely ignorant post that no one will give a damn about.  Actaully they will give a damn about it youll get flamed for only if there is a god, he knows only for how long.

Sun Jul 20 2008 3:59PM Report
Unive writes:

If you want a casual game gtfo out of the mmorpg forums and go paly Pac-Man. GG son.

Sun Jul 20 2008 4:00PM Report
Death1942 writes:

i think what devs should do is make a game that will last for ages.  the length should be long enough for most (read casual) gamers to reach over a lengthy period of time (6-8 months seems like a good time in MMO's for me).  the problem is Hardcore gamers who want endgame in the first 3 weeks of release (get F***** i say) are the ones who go from fanboi to flamer in a matter of days.  they are also (as you said) the most vocal group and so Devs almost always cave in.

 

when was the last time an MMO added any new content (thats lands, monsters or dungeons) to anything less than 1/4 through the game?  i cant think of any.

imagine if WoW or Everquest released more zones for the 10-30 level range,  how many more people would suddenly enjoy playing an alt (the longest part of the game, leveling).  unfortunately the hardcore scream louder than us so they get their new raids and new PvP areas (that last for about 1 week before they know every little secret inside of them) and the stuff that would make people play for ages gets shelved.

 

i think LOTRO is a great example of how to keep people entertained.  you can level 2 toons from 1-50 with only 1 overlap (or two if they are the same race) of zones.  that means you go from 1-50 on both and everything is new to you apart from 1 zone.  if other MMO's bothered to do this (and revisit these lands) then maybe people wont get so bored,  the ironic thing is most people enjoy the leveling from 1-max level far more than endgame.  and most people are willing to level for months on end (casually) to reach the final goal of max level (and then they start it all over again, its amazing).

 

anyway good blog

Sun Jul 20 2008 4:48PM Report
Kalnokist writes:

Just an FYI for our little factboy here

TV series that went 5 seasons and over (aside from the Simpsons)

Family guy-King of the Hill-Married With Children-Friends-Dallas-Charmed-Buffy the Vampire Slayer-ER-MASH-West Wing-That 70's Show-X Files-24-Sopranos-Sex And the City-Monk-CSI-Murder She Wrote-Scrubs-Dukes of Hazard-Full House and those are only the ones I can think of on top of my head.

Just thought you should know, it looks bad when you're talking and talking and talking and that you just throw bullshit random made up facts like that and you obviously don't have a clue what the hell you're talking about.  Since I can no longer assume this blog makes any kind of sense, why don't you just go back to whatever game you play and make sure you stay all by yourself, cut off from everyone, just to make sure you don't suffer any kind of comparison with anyone ?  Someone suggested pac man...good choice, unless you play in an arcade, then you might see the high score and wanna cry some more.

Sun Jul 20 2008 6:28PM Report
grimfall writes:

Some other various interesting things I learned from reading this blog.

TV shows are 30 minutes.  Previously I had though they were about 23 minutes long, with seven minutes of commercials.

As Kalnokist illustrates, plenty of shows make 5 years.  It's 10 years that is the real rarity.  Some Soaps have been going for 30 years, as well as news shows.

Movies have been around for 'THOUSANDS' of years.  I thought that it was closer to 100.

The mathematics used in the 3rd paragraph... well, let's just say that they're not good.  Even if the math was correct, my father has a Mac he games on.  What does he play?  He plays solataire.  That's probably about 20% of your market right there.  Probably, 70% of those people playing 'online games' are playing Poker.

So go for it, Jimmy_Smits.  Please encourage the gaming companies to develop more please backs of cards for Solataire and Poker players, since that's where the market lies.

Mon Jul 21 2008 8:43AM Report
grimfall writes:

One more correction.

Major book retailers sell graphic novels in the States. 

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/results.asp?WRD=comics

The Fact that they don't stock the monthly comic books probably has more to do with buying paterns and distribution channels than anything else.  Just like in Norway (thought not in Denmark) you can buy comic books at other stores, like Apothecaries and Grocery stores in the US.

Jimmy_Smits probably doesn't know this because his mother does all his shopping for him,

Mon Jul 21 2008 8:50AM Report
Jimmy_Scythe writes:

Wow, quite a few of you took this one personally. That says a little bit more about your feelings than mine though. I was merely making some valid criticisms of gaming culture and providing my own opinion on why the hardcore are slowly being pushed aside.

I watched a similar thing happen to flight sims and classical wargames. The communities were exactly like the hardcore gamers of this generation. The hostility toward newcomers combined with unreasonable, often contradictory, demands reduced those genres to the point that they are almost invisible anymore. I see the same thing happening to core gaming in the near future.

The original draft of this blog read:  " In short, the hardcore are demanding that everyone spends more time, in one or two weeks no less, on one game than they do on a single TV show over the course of a year." 

which, if you make it 23 minutes an episode, means that people spend 5.73 hours watching a single TV show in a year. In five years they watch 28.75 hours of a single show. So even modified to your completely anal nitpicking, you're still demanding games that are unreasonably long for public consumption.

The math in the third paragraph was based on the ballpark estimate of a 300 million population. 65% of 300 million is 195 million and I just ran the percentages from there.

I know that many of you think that the casual gamers are going to move on to "real" gaming, but we've had casual games for a long, long time now. I have yet to hear of anyone that started on Tetris and worked their way onto Civ IV. There will always be a market for hardcore gamers, but it isn't going to anything even remotely close to what we're seeing today.

And when you do find yourselves marginalized to the point of being a non-factor in the gaming industry, you'll have no one to blame but yourselves.

Mon Jul 21 2008 10:15AM Report
grimfall writes:

Quick lesson in reading statistics and logic.

In the United States, it's estimated that about 65% of all households own a console or a PC that they use for gaming. According to an NPD survey, only about 65%

100% of those consoles are used for gaming.  If you have a family of four has a console, odds are that only 1-2 of those people play computer games.

See your error there?  You decided that everyone in the household played games.  That's not a valid assumption. So turn your 120 million into 40 million.

Now take out the poker players.

You're down to 20 million.

You can play Madden and Guitar Hero online.

But besides that, yeah, right on target.

 

Fri Jul 25 2008 1:14PM Report

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