Saturday, June 1, 2013

Hardcore vs. Casual, Part 1: Explanation of Terms

Everyone who has ever visited a gaming forum will have encountered this raging battle: People who demand a game to be made more accessible or easier and the not-so-kind responses that call them "casuals" or "scrubs". This provokes negative reactions from the first party, calling their adversaries "tryhards" and "elitists". And so the flaming continues...
In this series, we will look into the motivations of both sides and the reason why they can´t coexist peacefully. But before we start, let us try to settle a common ground by defining a few vital terms. You know, before they became random insults to throw at people in the internet.

1. Hardcore

Well this means a bit more than a gaming mode in Diablo II where your character would not get a second chance after being killed once. Still, this is a prime example of what hardcore players are looking for: a game that does not give them a guarantee for success. Instead they have to get used to the game´s mechanics, adapt and get creative to see a light at the end of the tunnel. The feeling of accomplishment if they are successful in this task is what motivates these kind of gamers.
Hardcore games tend to be hard, with severe punishment if you do mistakes or offer complex game mechanics (like older strategy or simulation games).

I would never get that far in hardcore-mode.
In general, hardcore gamers choose the hard difficulty when starting any new game.

2. Softcore

The exact opposite of the hardcore gamer. He will choose the easy setting because the softcore gamer is not looking for the ultimate test of his gaming skills. Instead, he wants entertainment and distraction from his daily duties. And rightfully so, our lives are stressful enough.
Softcore games are easily accessible, offer simple yet fun game mechanics and are a good way to play with friends that are not playing regularly and therefore have less practice with a controller or keyboard.
A good example would be the Mario Party series, which is always a blast to play with friends around.

Do you feel great now, Waluigi?

3. Casual

While the casual is a close relative to the softcore gamer and their attributes are commonly paired together, they are not entirely the same species. A casual gamer is a person that plays video games if he finds the time for it. Since he has other priorities, his gaming time is often limited by other activities. This does not neccessarily mean that he doesn´t enjoy a good challenge. You can play only 2 hours a week and still choose the higher difficulty like a hardcore gamer. As people grow up and their time gets consumed by things like their job or founding a family they develop towards the casual gamer. Due to their limited time, casual gamers need fast progress or a lot of opportunities to save it. Diablo 2 with its waypoint system was clearly an attractive game.

Teleporting is so convenient! I demand it in real life!

4. Enthusiast, a.k.a. nolifer

I prefer the term enthusiast as it has a more positive tone to it. But people who place a stronger emphasis on video games in their life and commit more time to their hobby than you are usually referred to as nolifers. Enthusiasts tend to the hardcore side of gaming since you get better at something if you to it for extended periods of time. Still, there are softcore enthusiasts as well. You can spend a lot of time in games without trying to reach the hard goals, for example role-playing in MMORPGs.

They did never like each other that much.

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