Much like any other hobby that has ever existed, there are various levels of pride and appreciation in the world of video games. And in similar fashion there are a distinguished few who show their passion and commitment to their favorite hobby much more than anyone else. These are the people who go beyond the basic boundaries of enjoying the experience offered by their favorite video games and instead turn it into something more. These are the select few who are dubbed the Hardcore Gamer. Yet does this solely mean that they have acquired possessions or accomplished tasks to justify such a title, or rather adhere to the demands of others around them? Or is being a hardcore gamer something more misunderstood and over-sensationalized than what the reality of it is? While the masses may have a barrage of opinions on the matter, the wise and open-minded will truly understand what it means to be truly hardcore in the world of video games.
Being a hardcore gamer is a state of mind. While some would be quick to consider this as a way of “living” one’s life, it is instead a way of thinking and interpreting the hobby. Rather than being concerned with what the majority of other gamers are leaning towards in the field, a real hardcore gamer will stay true to his/her own preferences and focus on getting the most enjoyment out of playing the games they love. This goes beyond specific platforms, genres, or any other kind of classification that is part of the realm of video games, because to the hardcore gamer none of this holds any relevance. At the same time the biggest concern of the hardcore gamer is finding the most time out of their day to play the games they love, whether it is through good or poor management of their time.
The public eye has always had a very jaded look at what a hardcore gamer really is, mostly due to very commercialized and over exaggerated gross stereotypes. Over-weight body-types, social outcasts, constantly raging with hormones, the list goes on and on with each new one being more comical than the last. Outside of the tongue in cheek interpretations that have been seen in many movies and commercials involving gaming, much of misunderstanding is also due to the most vocal parts of different gaming communities. These loud groups would be quick to praise or shun someone based on their game preferences, consoles owned, achievements and trophies, or even their willingness to purchase a game on launch; all of which only feed into more and more gross stereotypes which lead into one big circle of misunderstanding.
The truth is that none of this really defines a real hardcore gamer, nor should any of it be used as criteria to measure one’s gaming prowess. Consoles and platforms for example are something in more recent times that have become a favorite of judging if someone is hardcore. To claim that owning a specific console or avoiding another makes you hardcore is not only foolish in the grand scheme of things, but only limits everyone to one part of the grand pie that is video games. Why would anyone only experience or explore part of their favorite hobby, when they can do so by seeing everything the hobby has to offer? A hardcore gamer would strive to experience even a small bit of everything, whether AAA in quality or simplistic in premise. Be it on a home console, a personal computer, or even on a tablet or phone, a hardcore gamer would be open to playing games on all platforms that are available to them.
Outside of consoles that play games, genres have become a big deal for how some people define a hardcore gamer. While much of the popular preference has shifted to first person shooters and other kinds of violent-like game titles, these genres don’t solely make up the kinds of games that a hardcore gamer may play. This eventually becomes a debate on what makes up a hardcore game and what is the content of such that helps define what a hardcore gamer is. And while many in recent times would blindly believe that blood, violence, story, realistic visuals, or multiplayer would be the makings of a hardcore game, they are falling for a false perspective. Games created in the past, whether you grew up in the 80s or 90s, did not always have such characteristics and were still dubbed as hardcore titles. This was due to titles having obstacles and challenges that tested our cognitive abilities and required us to think through tough spots in order to move forward. These same games at times also came in the guise of bright, whimsical, and maybe even childish personas, yet still gave many people great experiences and tough challenges. For a hardcore gamer it makes no difference the kind of game nor the aesthetics of it, what matters is if they can play it and if they will enjoy playing it.
Yet another big aspect to judging a person to be hardcore these days comes in the wake of the growing popularity of achievements and trophies. Where now it’s the accolades gained and displayed online that decide who is hardcore and who is not. And while there is some significance in showing one’s dedication to a game by accomplishing such goals, they are not the defining factor for becoming a hardcore gamer. Just as tough as it may be to dedicate time and effort to gaining that one notification sound to display on an online profile, the same level of commitment can be shown in accomplishing a goal on a platform that has no such things, such as a mobile tablet or phone game. Much of the flair from achievements and trophies comes from displaying them for others to see online, something which a real hardcore gamer would not hold much importance. They would instead be more focused on the enjoyable experience and challenge, most of which goes beyond gamer points and trophy levels on a personal level.
The term hardcore gamer has always been a label that has been misinterpreted many times. With the evolution of technology and the popularity of video games, it is not a term that will be universally agreed upon. As things within the industry begin to change, and as more and more people become intrigued with the hobby, so too will the opinions about what it means to be a hardcore gamer. Yet throughout this vast variety of stances on being hardcore gamer the same basic principle will still be present: Being a hardcore gamer is having an affinity and passion for playing video games that goes beyond the core experience, and being proud of it.
Remember to check out the other pieces in this series: Fanboys, TBD and TBD. What do you think about this piece? How do you define a hardcore gamer, and is it a good or a bad label? Let us know in the comments below!