Recently, Steve “Moorgard” Danuser made a great post on his blog about the neverending Hardcore vs. Casual debates which rage across MMO forums. He makes the point that there are no real casual players on those forums participating in those arguments – just different types of hardcore players.
Now, I’m going to agree with Steve on this. Years ago, back on EQII.com and EQLounge.com, I made several posts where I argued that the old “casual” and “hardcore” labels had to go – that they were no longer truly relevant in the context they were being used.
Each of us participating on the forums in such debates is hardcore in one way or another. Oh, we’re not all hardcore “raiders”, or hardcore “casuals”, but we’re all hardcore. One of the responders to Steve’s original post pointed it out when he started talking about the differences between in-game and out-of-game participation. He referred to it as a form of addiction, but really, isn’t that what any “harcore” participant or fan is in some way. In fact, the very word “fan” comes from “fanatic”, or one who is marked by excessive enthusiasm and often intense devotion.
I would argue that hardcore players are fanatics in some way. We’re fanatical about our gameplay – whatever form that gameplay may take: tradeskilling, soloing, group play, questing, and yes, raiding.
Compare it to sports fans. Oh, there’s fans and then there’s fans. The casual fan watches the game when it’s on, and might check the sports page to keep up with his or her favorite team. However, the “hardcore” fan knows every injury, every trade, every traffic ticket, checks the internet constantly to post on fansites about how much that game RULED or that player SUCKED! This is not the average fan – this fan is hardcore.
So it is with MMO’s. A casual player treats his or her gameplay as he would Civilization or Heroes of Might and Magic. The game is installed. The game is played. The player either has fun or does not. The game is turned off. If the casual player decides to stop playing, there’s no monumental fanfaire…no treats to the developers…no mile long posts on 18 different forums. A truly casual player just stops playing.
We are the hardcore. If you’re reading this blog, chances have increased significantly that that statement applies to you. If you take the time respond to this blog, the chances increase significantly more.
That’s a hard pill for some of us to swallow. We’ve been drawing up battlelines and choosing sides for so long, the idea of being called hardcore when one considers oneself to be casual can be like referring to a Wellstone liberal as a Buchanan conservative. Fire will be breathed and teeth will be gnashed.
However, I stand by the statements. For years, I’ve personally considered myself as a “casual” player. I put in only 10-12 hours a week on the actual gameplay. However, I’m also running a guild, running a fansite, writing a blog on the subject, flying across the country to conventions, and wracking up thousands of posts on various forums dedicated to the games I play. In the world of MMO’s, I’m the half-naked beer belly fan painted up in team colors yelling obscenities down from my season ticket seats. Chances are…so are you.