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The More You Know: Casual Gamers July 24, 2011

Posted by Thomas Richards in Rants.
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The casual gamer has been an oft mentioned subject in the Video Game community for the several years. They are the bane “Real Gamers” everywhere; the methodic destruction of our passion and industry on a steady decline for many years.

The Casual Gamer comes in many forms. The first is what I like to call a “Bro Gamer;” this group enjoys Call of Duty and Madden with their buddies and little else. Bro gamers play video games because they are popular and because it sounds like something fun to do.  You would never catch them playing a game as thought provoking as Portal or Braid, and that is because they would rather play shooters with their drinking buddies because it is “so tight,” while talking about that hot chick they bought drinks for. This group believes themselves to be gamers, but as soon as they are in social circles that view gaming negatively they will never mention the fact that they play them. You will meet this niche online with emblems attached to their overly machismo internet aliases depicting how stoned they are. They can be seen playing Guitar Hero on medium difficulty whilst bragging about their insane skills and talking about how great that last college basketball game was.

Bro gamers like to believe they understand what real gamers are, and talk like they understand when they are around us. This group has no real understanding of the artistic effort that hard working developers pour into the titles real gamers play. Bro gamers will play only the most popular of titles that we play, but never have the level of understanding or appreciation for what gives a title merit. They have never sacrificed anything for the gaming lifestyle; they play only because it is popular to do so. I take solace in the fact that these noobs will be done soiling our lifestyle once they marry their girlfriends that don’t approve of their “waste of time” due to its implied nerdiness. In a few short years, we will be rid of this generation of bro gamers; only for a younger group to take its place. Until then, they give our kind easy kills in Halo and Call of Duty.

“Social Gamers” are the people who will play a game at their next family get-together; the kind Nintendo was so eager to bring into the fold with the Wii.  They will spend hours playing Wii Sports or, in the worst case scenario, they play FarmVille. Once their families light social group disperses or they log off Facebook they will be back to watching Martha Stewart and thinking about their hip sizes.  This group destroyed any potential the Wii might have had, leaving our kind to dig through massive piles of social shovelware crap to find games worth playing. They believe Wii Bowling is God’s gift to gaming, making them easy targets for quick start developers creating titles like “Ninjabread Man” and “Family Sports Fun Time” to cash in and make a quick buck off this ignorant group.  Shovelware becomes so popular to the point that quality titles become obscure and overlooked due to the rush to buy cheap ports of flash games we played in High School.

My entire life I’ve had to explain to non-gamers why I love games so much; I can’t count how often I’ve explained why I would rather play Halo instead of basketball to an Aunt who had never played a game before in her life.  Social gamers have less of an understanding of what makes games such an enjoyable, deep and ever-changing medium than bro gamers.   When the Wii released, I was excited to see that people that once needed an explanation were now trying to understand my passion. I soon realized even though they were trying games for themselves, their comprehension lacked clarity, and they understood our hobby as well as someone who drinks a glass of water could understand surfing.

A lot of the blame the social gamer garners comes from the companies that capitalize on their naivety. For example, when a true gamer offers up a quality title like New Super Mario Bros. for Wii, their reaction is to immediately blow the person off in the same way they would before they began to infiltrate our livelihood.  The Wii’s potential as a great gaming platform has been completely whittled away; even the companies who would have made good games for the system know there is less money to be made in the hardcore market, so they pump out shovelware as fast as McDonalds makes hamburgers.

The “Real Gamer” (aka Hardcore Gamer, True Gamer) is someone who has devoted large portions of their life to gaming.  We are real gamers; purveyors of Mega Man, Mario, Link and Simon Belmont. We know what it takes to get better at a challenging game, and when we reminisce with friends we talk about how much fun we’ve had with the games we’ve played together.  We immediately know when a person is a social or bro gamer, and know they’re not one of us. We have dedicated our entire lives to the pursuit of pwnage, and know that gaming is something we will have our entire lives.  When younger, our parents took our games away from us when we caused trouble, knowing it was a motivating factor in our lives; even so, we’d find a way to play anyway.  We were caught with our Game Boy at school, stayed up gaming until 4 AM even if we had class, and we’ve never been afraid to display our gaming habits anywhere but on our sleeves. We’ll play the same games as social and bro gamers, yet we have a deep understanding of the artistic value held within. We’ll be told by others we “have no lives” or that we’re “wasting our time” and we should “get a constructive hobby,” but there’s never been a doubt in our minds about what we loved, and we’ve always understood and accepted the trials associated with being a gamer.

All we ask is you learn to differentiate us from the rest. We’re gamers; the biggest insult we could receive is being labeled as something we’re not. As for the rest of you, do your best to stay out of our way as we’ll be the ones creating something for you to pass your time with soon enough; best not to piss us off too much.

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