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Hardcore Gaming Crimes

If you asked me if I was a hardcore gamer, I’d say yes. I wouldn’t even pause to think about it. Not only did I find a way to take my passion for videogaming and turn it into a damned good career, but I still find time almost every day to play a videogame, even when I’m in crunch (like I am as I write this—what made me think I could pony up 600 words to the PC Gamer slavedrivers editors two weeks before the Spore beta?).

Making a game that takes you on a journey from humble prokaryote to totem-building tribe sounds pretty hardcore to us

But I bet the hardcore game police, if they ever tracked me down (I’m pretty wily), would probably lock me up and throw away the key. There’d be at least three charges. The first one, I might be able to claim self-defense on, but the other two are offenses that “real” hardcore gamers could never agree to acquit.

Charge #1
I’m not much of an FPS player, because frankly, I’m one of those people who gets dizzy playing them. I can play an hour or two of Call of Duty or TF2 with coworkers because playing a game together is a great way to celebrate a Friday afternoon, but after a while, I just get a little woozy.

Hardcore gamers don’t get woozy. They don’t even use the word woozy.

Charge #2
There’s no getting off lightly on this one, although I bet under intense interrogation, other hardcore gamers could probably be cajoled into admitting what I will tell you freely:

I almost never finish a game. And by almost, I really mean almost never, ever. I probably buy two or three games a month and I usually make it anywhere from 25-to-75 percent of the way through them, but I can only recall ever finishing two games. Ever. (Just for the record, your Honor, I did finish Kirby Canvas Curse for the DS and Loco Roco for the PSP.) I got pretty close to hitting level 60 in WoW with my ’lock (Ding! 58!), but then Burning Crusade came out and the level cap went up. I know there is supposedly a great ending in BioShock that surprised even my most jaded gamer pals, but I don’t know what it is (and please don’t tell me...maybe I will finish it someday).

When I’m talking to gamer friends about this in a group setting, conversation can easily turn to how they worked the ending of Mass Effect or what it’s been like to attune their level 70 Paladin. And then sometimes, after a few beers maybe... I’ll hear that finishing a game is actually the exception, not the rule.
In my defense I say this: The games I develop tend to be open-ended simulations. They don’t really have endings, so by leaving the games I play unfinished, I’m really just doing research for work. Yeah.

Take that, Jack McCoy.

Charge #3
Easily the one that would send me to the big house—and you’d hate to see what those hardcore gamer prison bulls do to people like me:

I enjoy casual games. I like a game that I can put down and pick up whenever I want.

There. I said it.

I played Puzzle Quest, not as much for the RPG-ness, but more for the Bejeweled-ness of it (and no, I didn’t finish—I got to level 50 and then never bothered defeating Lord Bane). In 1996, when all of my friends were wrapped up in Diablo and Resident Evil, I was playing a lot of Snood. And sure, I am a fan of Age of Empires, which gives me some cred, but my love of Peggle dooms me in the eyes of many.

Because, at the end of the day, our community (the videogame community, that is) has almost universally decreed that if you play casual games, well, then you are no hardcore gamer, sir.

But, ultimately, I think it’s my love of playing all kinds of games, my commitment to creating great games, and my dedication to making the videogame community a better and more diverse group that matters most.

And I think that’s pretty hardcore. Even if you don’t.

July 24, 2008