I made a major mistake when I wrote about Wii Sports last year, and I'd been meaning to talk about it for a while now. So imagine my surprise when I find an old forgotten draft addressing just that! Might I have a minute of your time?
So what we have is a post within a post that quotes a previous post. Inception! NOTE: the rant has been ever-so-slightly modified, as it was originally, much more...train-of-thought. (Read: COMPLETELY INCOHERENT. There's a reason I'd stashed the thing away for so long.) And the first post wasn't "reeeally stupid," just interestingly flawed, and not even in its headline. Wii Sports is just that awesome.
I made a reeeally stupid post on Wii Sports the other day. And who cares if a game is "accessible" or "hardcore," anyway? And what even is hardcore? No, seriously. Let's think about that. <-This post in a nutshell.
In the following post I will:
- Attempt to sound smarter than I actually am
[THE REST OF THE LIST HAS BEEN CUT FOR CLARITY]
So first, the post in question. It's an analysis or, I guess, a mini-analysis of Wii Sports. Don't look so surprised; there's more to the game than you'd expect. That's why I wrote that in the first place (although I wouldn't call what I'm doing writing so much as the internet equivalent of writing on my much more dignified parent's walls with a red crayon that will never come off, ever.) And that's not even the problem. The problem is...
Wii Sports is often dismissed due to its reputation as a "casual game." And then I decide to jump to its defense. So do I say that it doesn't need to be "deep" and "hardcore" to be worth playing? No! I say that it was actually hardcore all along and you just don't know it yet because it doesn't look or act that way up front. So maybe that's not verbatim, but I basically called it an "elite" on the basis of its "hidden depth." Now, rich games have their benefits, but if you look at the post for long enough, it starts to look like I'm arguing not that Wii Sports is a good game because of its depth (That's a fact.) but rather that it's somehow a legitimate game because of its depth, and all this right after I pretended not to care whether the game, or any game for that matter, was hardcore or not. And that's no good.
I must atone for my sins. First off, no, it shouldn't matter. Now for the reasons.
In that earlier post, I brought up a study by Playnomics that breaks video game players into a 8 fundamental groups. It looks like this:
To be brief, the people in the lower-left are called Proactive-Diligents. Strategists, Competitors, people who crave mastery and accomplishment. I think the first post explained it best (We have officially gone triplepost!):
You see, we're also the dominant group of players in gaming culture. You could say evolution favored us. The games of yesteryear were blood-crushingly difficult (Is that even a word? It is now.) and barely comprehensible storywise, so it took a lot of patience and dedication to even finish a game, let alone appreciate it. (Sort of like how it's going to take a lot of patience and dedication to finish this article, nyuk-nyuk.*) So anybody who couldn't keep up with those specific kinds of games got weeded out early. As a result, we've spent so much time surrounded by ourselves that it gets hard to acknowledge other types of players even exist, and when we do, oh boy, do we ever tear them one. It's as if we consider our way the only proper way to play. (But that's another story entirely.)
*The original post was, in fact, hecka long.
So what does all this warbling mean? It means that the games we call "casual" are most likely just games geared toward a different slice of the pie. You know, non-action games, small games for handheld devices, easy games, and the like. I don't think it's too much to suggest that a game that isn't easy can get its appeal from elsewhere, or that simplicity can double as elegance. These things aren't bad. We make them bad because only one set of people get to set all the rules because...we were here first? And by staying here in spite of ourselves, we have proven ourselves to be hardcore dudes and thus the games we like are hardcore by association? I'm trying to understand but I can't. I got nothing.
...And who says you can't take this seriously, anyway?
So, maybe it was a bit overzealous to say there is no hardcore, but I don't think it's a stretch to say that it's not quite what we think it is, or that at the moment it's more of an exclusionary term with exclusionary side effects, cutting out a flock of truly creative experiences and often having more to do with aesthetic trappings and age-old tropes than the mind-boggling intelligence, skill and thoughtfulness that went into making them, and that shines through when you play the game.
Imagine an alternate continuity in which a completely different category of players found gaming first, one where Animal Crossing is considered hardcore and Street Fighter IV is not. Strange thought, isn't it? That's the point. Both games are great in their own ways, but more often than not, we dismiss certain games as "not hardcore enough"
That's not to say that the word can't have a definite meaningful meaning if we think hard enough about it. But right now, all hardcore seems to mean is "You are discouraged from playing this." And where's the fun in that?
Any games you know that aren't traditionally "hardcore," but ought to get due respect anyway? Sound off in the comments below!