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Videogames have invaded the mainstream, and while the games themselves might have evolved, there has always been a percentage of players that dedicate themselves to the hobby completely, the “hardcore”. And while games have grown in ways that were expected, the term hardcore has become something no one can even describe.

For a long while, anyone who maintained video games as a serious hobby was considered a “hardcore” gamer. Gaming had net yet received the John Madden Footballs and Halos that are being played en masse in today’s consoles, as such, Gamers were reduced to outcasts, geeks and nerds, and a vast knowledge of games came hand in hand with an expansive understanding of related activities like computers, comics, programming and the like. These gamers were all Hardcore, as there weren’t any casual “dabblers” in the hobby.

With the arrival of the Pac Mans, Space Invaders and Asteroids(es), gaming began to garner interest with people who viewed it simply as something cool to do at a bar or in the mall,as opposed to those who considered it a serious hobby. Even with this new split between the types of people who play video games, there was still a huge divide between the two groups making distinguishing  between hardcore and casual glaringly apparent.

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Fast-Forward to today and the industry is at the biggest it has ever been. There are no less than three home consoles dedicated solely to video gaming, telephones double as satisfactory video gaming devices and a single game has a subscriber count rivaling the population of massive metropolitan areas. Video Gaming’s legitimacy as a hobby goes unquestioned as people dedicate entire shopping trips to game specific shops, helping to make them powerhouses amongst shops.

While gaming has grown as rapidly as it has, the divisiveness of the sub-culture has grown as well. While it was once “hardcore” just to own a video gaming system, it takes much more to be described by the same term in today’s gaming culture. One group of people who spend the majority, if not all of their free time playing video games might criticize another for only having enough time to barely stay up to date with current news via Game specific websites and pod casts. One group of people might not consider those who own a rival platform to be hardcore. There are those who feel that someone who dedicates all of their gaming time to World of Warcraft, Call of Duty 4 or Halo 3 to be out of tune with gaming culture. If one were to take a glance at any video game related forum of discussion, it wouldn’t take years of deductive practice to see that video gamers can be some of the most cynical, critical, and divisive of those ingrained in any sub-culture.

One trip into any gaming-focused forum and anyone can see that gamers don’t necessarily play well together. While the term “hardcore” is used to describe someone that is knowledgeable, experienced, and well-versed in gaming and gaming culture, far more often than not, it’s used by one party, to discredit the opinions or tastes of the other. One often cited example is that Wii Casuals are ruining gaming for the hardcore. At the same time, someone who plays Call of Duty for 20 hours a week might not be considered hardcore enough to provide opinions about the game and its strategies to someone who has played the game for someone who has prestige the maximum amount of times. The term hardcore might even be used to discredit someone who bought a certain console as that person isn’t hardcore because of their purchase, thus putting them outside of the elite circle.

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What was once a term used simply to describe someone inscribed into a hobby, evolved into describing a certain sect of people in that hobby, becoming a makeshift compliment, and finally, it has become a means of discrimination. Gamers have relegated themselves to a set of cliques. PS3 owners, 360 Owners, Halo 3 Fanboys, CoD Fanboys, PC Gamers, Casuals, they are all hardcore, and at the same time none of them are. The divisiveness amongst us is something we rarely see in any other hobbies, and while the hobby itself is continuing to grow and expand, the hobbyists are ruining it for everyone else. We bicker amongst each other for arbitrary reasons, we put down each other simply because their console is named differently than ours, and we can’t stand anyone whose opinion is contrary to our own. It might take more than this to get the masses to unify and support our hobby as one voice, but as far as being “hardcore” goes, I don’t really care, I’m a gamer, and I play games because I love them.

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  1. Nice article. I think that the terms “hardcore” and “casual” get thrown around way too much these days. I remember cringing the first time I heard the term “gamer” being thrown around.

    Well you apply a label to something that doesn’t need one, it tends to polarize groups of people.

    For example, I have a friend that will come over and play Castle Crasher, Guitar Hero, shooters, etc… but he insists that he’s not “a gamer.” I think a lot of this has to do with what your talking about, and how labels only complicate things.

  2. If anyone hasn’t seen it, a couple of the pics are from the King of Kong, a great documentary on the history of competitive gaming.

    GREAT article

  3. Ahh thanks for the suggestion Chris. I may have to check that out, I love documentaries.

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    Good article. I was wondering about this exact subject for quite some time. Does owning a Wii make me less hardcore than if I owned a PS3? How about spending all of my free time playing games as opposed to being completely in love with games with substantially less time gaming? Still, it’s a good article and I will definitely check out the King of Kong.

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