Think you're hardcore? Then there's a good chance you're not

Why the CoD crowd is more casual than the Wii moms

So, %26lsquo;hardcore%26rsquo; then. It%26rsquo;s been the battle cry of %26ldquo;proper%26rdquo; gamers ever since the Wii arrived. Hardcore gamers are the ones with the serious appreciation of the medium. The ones who aren%26rsquo;t swayed by flavour-of-the-month industry fads. The ones who seek out real, stimulating game design talent while the mainstream casuals are falling at the feet of whatever bland, babiez-packed toss they%26rsquo;re currently being told to like.

Except they%26rsquo;re not. A hell of a lot of those who label themselves hardcore gamers don%26rsquo;t do any of that at all. In fact they do exactly the opposite, on all counts. In fact a lot of %26lsquo;hardcore%26rsquo; gamers have a less committed appreciation of the medium than the average Wii-owning soccer mom. And here%26rsquo;s why.

What predilections generally define the tastes of an archetypal hardcore gamer? Ask most what makes the stuff they play better than the tap-and-waggle libraries of the casual masses, and you%26rsquo;ll hear about complexity, depth, storyline and technical mastery.

Ask what they play and you%26rsquo;ll hear about the big hardware showcases of the day, the games that show horsepower, art design, tight game mechanics, realistic world-realisation and immersion in perfect unison. You%26rsquo;ll hear about Gears of War, and Call of Duty, and Halo, and Grand Theft Auto, and Uncharted, and Killzone, and Final Fantasy, and Metal Gear Solid.

In short, you%26rsquo;ll hear the tastes of the casual masses who%26rsquo;ve mistaken a liking of graphical fidelity and control complexity for a true appreciation of the overall medium.

I%26rsquo;m not for a second doubting the greatness of any of the games I%26rsquo;ve just mentioned. They%26rsquo;re all brilliant. Well, Halo bores me and I%26rsquo;ve never carried on playing a GTA game once the initial thrill of the freedom has passed, but you know what I mean. In terms of what a modern, mass-market game can achieve, they%26rsquo;re all stunning, stunning works.

But the point is, they%26rsquo;re modern, mass-market games. Let%26rsquo;s be honest, liking them doesn%26rsquo;t make you any more au fait with the medium or culturally elite as a fan of video games than watching a heavily-marketed mainstream Hollywood movie makes you a serious film buff.


Long-time GR+ writer Dave has been gaming with immense dedication ever since he failed dismally at some '80s arcade racer on a childhood day at the seaside (due to being too small to reach the controls without help). These days he's an enigmatic blend of beard-stroking narrative discussion and hard-hitting Psycho Crushers.


We recommend