256: Hardcore Maleness

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Bravo, I enjoyed this article. I believe a lot of people are going to misunderstand this article, but I found it enlightening.

"If it's longer than it's wide, it's a phallus.
If it's longer than it's wide, it's a phallus.
If it's not longer than it's wide, you can turn it on it's side...
If it's longer than it's wide, it's a phallus."

Look, it's been said, but taking all the gray and the diversity out of gaming culture and trying to steam-shovel everything into "male" and "female" to make an over-arcing comment about the negative aspects of "hardcore" culture is not only cheap, it's not terribly helpful. It also ignores aspects that many would apply to the term, like the need for the player to familiarize themselves with an intricate and complicated system to excel at the game. It may be an over-simplification for people to dismiss "Plants vs. Zombies" as casual, but it might have more to do with it coming from PopCap, that great paragon of casual gaming, than any sort of implied condemnation of the player base. Likewise I can't recall anyone describing Civilization, a game enjoyed by both sexes, as "casual", requiring as it does a near-instinctive feel for the flow of technological superiority to succeed in.

There are women who love "hardcore" games, and they're no less feminine for it. There are men who love "casual" games, and are no less masculine for it. And there are certainly a lot of abrasive, socially inept people in gaming, and many of them happen to be male, but the overall gender demographic of gaming is still in flux, so of course for now the greater percentage that falls into that circle of the Venn Diagram happens to be male.

So let's put away the phallocentric patriarchy discourse, shall we?

Rowan Kaiser:
There is one term which contains an identification which can compare with the term "hardcore gamer." It encompasses regular Call of Duty players, FarmVille fanatics, Bejeweled addicts, and your raid healer in World of Warcraft. It stands as entirely distinct from "non-gamer" or "person who happens to play games." It is a statement of frank identity, instead of a loaded, coded and confusing claim of maleness. It is, simply, "gamer." A person who declares that they are a gamer, that playing games is a part and parcel of who they are, implies as much or more about their relationship to the game industry as "hardcore" does. Why not use it instead?

There is a catch to this though.

The term "Gamer" has a stigma to it, just like "Hardcore" and "Casual" has. And not everyone that plays games would consider themselves gamers. And that is why the term "Casual" came into existence, as a way to describe people who play games, but do not consider themselves games. (At least that is how I interpret the word, and how it is used)
In the same way the word "Hardcore Gamer" is used to describe people who are very devoted to gaming.

I have never put any gender roles into the two terms, although I agree that there is a bigger majority of girls that could be considered (or that consider themselves) casual gamers, and vice versa.

But I think that has more to do with the stigma surrounding girls that play video games, more than putting gender roles into the terms.
I consider myself a Hardcore Gamer, due to the fact that I spend a lot of time on games, not just playing them, but reading/talking/thinking about them. But while I view myself as a hardcore gamer, I do not feel I fit your description of what a Hardcore gamer is.

Social psychology studies have found that children recognize what toys and games go with the "proper" gender based on the form of the toy more than the content. Guns are for boys and tea-sets are for girls, yes, but what happens when you show a child a fuzzy, pink gun? They look at the cover, and say it's a toy for girls. Plants vs. Zombies is that pink, fuzzy game; its content is a hardcore game, but it looks like a casual game, thanks to its marketing, its bright, 2D graphics and relatively simple grid.

I am sorry, but that this kind of stupidity is classified as science is beyond me. The conclusion is not connected to the study at all. All it says conclusively is that the child is confused by a fuzzy, pink gun and the request to classify that object as a gender. What it really tells you is that the kid can NOT classify it, but since it knows it is supposed to (someone told him/her), they 'cheat' by looking at the cover for the 'right' answer.

That this really obvious fact is overlooked bothers me to no end.

The rest of the article appears to be a badly disguised rant from someone who plays around in the Halo community too much and read a book about Freud once.

You are completely correct good sir, and that is the best article I have ever read on this site.

pneuma08:

Le_Lisra:
It annoys me that everything has to "genderized" like this.

It's nothing new, in fact, it's been done since the dawn of time. At least we speak English, where it isn't woven into the fabric of the language.

It is. Observe: Brotherhood of men. It means unity of all human beings, not just brothers and men.

The key thing, I find, is not to care.

I found this quite dissapointing. This is the first article I've read on the Escapist that felt somewhat contrived, like the kind of thing you'd read in your local sensationalist right-wing newspaper.
Sort of like it was written with specific language and terms to piss off one demographic, and appeal greatly to another.
But perhaps I'm wrong. Just a feeling.

I actually really enjoyed this article. It was certainly well-written. And I think a lot of the commenters seem to be totally misinterpreting the point.

From how I read it Rowan is not saying "Hardcore means male" or "Hardcore should mean male." Rowan is saying: "Most people are unconsciously associating the word 'hardcore' with maleness. And this is a bad thing." It is a criticism of society's association of everything easy, cutesy and 'casual' with girls.

Now, I don't think everybody in society does this but clearly some people do.

If you're a fella imagine you've gone to the pub and you think "you know what I'll take it easy" and you order a half-pint instead of a full pint. How likely is it that your male mates will look at you and say the following: "Man up!" or "Grow a pair!" Harmless comments and I've said them myself. But there is something there, in the back of our minds (whether for good or worse) that associates doing things the rough, 'hard' way with being a man.

That is all this article was trying to say! And people seem to have taken it to be reinforcing gender stereotypes!? What!? In fact it is merely asking 'Why do we do this?'

I think some people just did not pick up the tone.

Rowan, I for one, salute you.

This commenter finds the labels of masculine "hardcore" and feminine "casual" actually less overtly sexual and more like an eight-year-old's playground:

Calling yourself a gamer implies that you are a part of a greater community; this community is getting to be so expansive and so diverse that we want to exclude the lamer kids in the park. Rather than being a term laid upon the manly men to separate themselves from the homos, "hardcore" refers to your peers that you want to be in your club, and the label "casual" is for the ones you want to keep out. Living in a house with five female gamers may have given me this perception--we don't play shooters or MMOs, but we still throw around the term "raped" in a harrowing boss fight.

One of my roommates, who lives on 4chan and thus has strong feelings against casual gamers, refers to my sixteen year old sister as a Casual.

My sister is homeschooled in a move-at-your-own-pace sort of fashion and therefore spends her entire day playing World of Warcraft or the newest RPGs, often getting off the couch only to piss and claim a few hours of sleep. So what makes her a casual gamer? My roommate doesn't want to be in a club with a sixteen-year-old girl.

I think that with an article that paints in broad strokes like this one does, a lot of the backlash is the, "this article is wrong because I don't count!" and such. These people are missing the point, that there is worth to be had in looking at the large picture. Yes, people may be wrong in saying that "hardcore gun-games are for boys" or something like that, but if most of the population does it, isn't there worth in explaining the whys or the hows - and isn't it worth point it out so people can be aware of the bias?

I guess what I'm saying is that it seems to me that the article isn't saying objectively "hardcore is male, casual is female" but rather, "there are a large number of people (perhaps even the majority) that associate hardcore with male, and casual with female)." The difference is that just because you can rise above gender stereotyping doesn't mean that others or even most people do - even though it's wrong.

Good article, by the way.

Yeah Plants vs. Zombies isn't a "near-perfect case study", it's an example you are bending to fit your opinion, and a bad one at that. Every guy I know that has played it has loved it. Stop delegating video games into such broad categories. Correlation does not equal causation. There are too many factors to throw all games into 2 groups.

I thought the characters in bromance games like Gears and Army of Two were intended ironically... "we've got a big dumb fun game about shooting and sawing things in half, I know let's make characters to match lololol. DUDE, BROFIST!"

Thanks for the kind words, everyone who gave them.

To those two disagreed with the content or tone:

I wrote it provacatively intentionally. It seemed to fit the argument, and it made it more interesting to write (and apparently more interesting to read).

I addressed many of the arguments some of you have made within the article, but there are two which were either not made, or I could have made more explicit.

First, there's a difference between "male" and "masculine," likewise "female" and "feminine." The former is a physical attribute. The latter is are the qualities which are associated with those attributes, ie, the stereotypes. Men supposed to be violent, logical, and physical. Women are supposed to be caring and emotional. By "masculinity" or "maleness" I don't necessarily mean men, but I do think these stereotypes exist in our society.

Second, I don't think that acknowledging that these stereotypes exist reinforces them. That's analogous the people who say that acknowledging economic differences between races is racist, which is not something I believe. Your mileage may vary, I suppose.

Finally, some of you raise some very interesting points and I'd like to continue the dialogue, but this is a terrible week for me to do so, as I don't have internet access at home. If you'd like to have a conversation, feel free to direct message me.

I've always said, there's no such thing as hardcore games or casual games, there's no such thing as hardcore audience or casual audience. There're only good games, bad games, people who play a lot of games, and people who don't.

Let's not forget, the original Mario/Sonic games were NOT "casual."

The author writes a lot of words to prove a point, but I still find it bullshit.

The trash talk, OK. It's directly derived from real life (I'm sure street gangs and soldiers used to call their winning 'rape' long before the first video game), but well, yeah.

But hardcore? Nah. For me, hardcore is someone who buys many games, may own more than one gaming system and generally is interested in games 'as such', e.g. reading gaming magazines, looking for new releases etc. Competitive multilayer is also a part of hardcore.

If you ask a hardcore games what he/she's been doing, they can reply 'I've been playing a game' without shame.

Casual games either play games just in parties, or have one or two (more likely one) their fauvorite games and aren't interested in any other game. And Wii counts as just one game.

Ask a casual games what he/she's been doing and they reply 'I've been playing TENNIS on a Wii' or 'I've been FARMING' or 'I've been EXPLORING [some area in WoW]'. They don't mention a game because they don't really know that other games exist.

Hey, I see you've been leapt on by the 'how dare you say I should perhaps think about the gender issues in my hobby' crowd. You must be doing something right. :D

On the whole I thought this was a good article... the whole hardcore=male thing is built on kinda shaky ground (we all know that in practice people associate guns with men and pink with women - sneaky sexists often get an easy win from saying 'ah but if you're a feminist you should never acknowledge that therefore your argument is invalid' when actually they just mean LALALA I'M NOT LISTENING).

While I have to agree that all Casual and Hardcore gamers are in fact just Gamers. I can not agree that all Gamers are in fact Hardcore...Generalizing to just Gamer causes confusion. A casual gamer is a gamer, just call yourself a gamer. But a person who plays a game 7 nights a week, 5 hours a night is (while a gamer) at a different level. People who learn every nuance and term in a game, figure out exactly how the AI will behave, learn how to calculate DPS and Threat and everything else, those people are not just Gamers. To me this is not a good thing, if anything I think they are crazy. I used to play WoW, Diablo 2, etc. and I never understood these perfectionists. I played for fun, and I never thought of myself as a Hardcore Gamer. I guess what I'm saying is let them have their idea that they are "Hardcore" but when I ask someone if they play video games and their response is they are a "hardcore gamer" they could have said the same thing by saying they are just a gamer.

Plurralbles:
Come on, the Sims is a technological "House" game that little girls used to play with their unwilling brothers when the girls couldn't convince the boy to play Tea Party. It's pretty feminine.

That kind of proves the article's point, doesn't it?

The article isn't saying that all hardcore gamers are guys and all casual gamers girls, or even that everyone thinks that. It's just saying that there's a tendency to associate hardcore gamers with masculinity and casual gaming with femininity. Which, as BlueInkAlchemist points out, is rather a case of dead-horse-beating, but still true.

Example. If someone says to you, "My friend is a seriously hardcore gamer," do you imagine said gamer to be male or female? If, instead, this someone said something like, "My friend is totally obsessed with The Sims," then what gender would come to mind? Most people would imagine the hardcore gamer as male and the Sims gamer as female.

I think the term 'rape' in gaming is used to denote a one-sided conflict that is unpleasant for the victim. Conversely, owning or 'pwning' denotes defeating someone on more even terms.

Yeah, have to say I disagree like the majority of the article, right from the beginning. Since when did hardcore imply masculine and casual feminine? I'm online reading about games all the time and never once has this association been mentioned or even implied. The first I hear about it is hear, just in time for the writer to lambast it. Sure, most games considered "hardcore" (my hatred of and the problem with that term is itself another story) have overwhelmingly male audiences, but plenty of hardcore girl gamers exist. Pokemon is a very hardcore game, and in no way do I associate it with maleness. So I guess my point boils down to: calm down, and stop pressing for a story when there isn't one.

ranger19:
Yeah, have to say I disagree like the majority of the article, right from the beginning. Since when did hardcore imply masculine and casual feminine? I'm online reading about games all the time and never once has this association been mentioned or even implied. The first I hear about it is hear, just in time for the writer to lambast it. Sure, most games considered "hardcore" (my hatred of and the problem with that term is itself another story) have overwhelmingly male audiences, but plenty of hardcore girl gamers exist. Pokemon is a very hardcore game, and in no way do I associate it with maleness. So I guess my point boils down to: calm down, and stop pressing for a story when there isn't one.

Because you're not seeing the story doesn't mean it doesn't exist. You think Pokemon is hardcore eh? I'd venture to argue that you're in the minority on that one. I agree actually, but "I'm progressive and I assume other gamers think like me so your entire argument is flawed" is a horrible argument.

sports games are not "hardcore"

Brian Name:

I think some people just did not pick up the tone.

Rowan, I for one, salute you.

Whereas I would argue that if the majority of the people miss the tone. then the article was a failure.

This was not an open ended look at the gaming culture that intended to ask a question and then seek an answer. This was an article with an agenda, it started with an answer and then asked questions designed to lead to a preordained solution. I think that most people saw this agenda and called Rowan out on it.

That said, I think your point about the half-pint was salient. However, I also think that this is an implicit part of human communication, and your very comment points out that things are hardly the black and white that Rowan would have us believe.

Usually I can't be bothered to respond to articles in forums, but the feminist argument to sexualize violence is one of my major pet-peeves. It is true that men are far more prone to violence and aggression than women in general, physiologically due to hormones, but more importantly, from a teleological perspective, due to the specialization of the genders throughout human evolution. Women gathered food and took care of the young while the men hunted and protected them. The men were, in essence, a barrier between women and the world. The world is cruel. The lion does not, nor will he ever, lay with the lamb; he tears its bowls out and consumes it. Violence is merely one form of competition, and competition is the driving force of natural selection. Natural selection, along with any other type of selection, is a metaphysical certainty that arises out of the laws of thermodynamics. There is a limited amount of resources, self-replicating forms eventually arise and take up those resources until they come into conflict, then the superior form eventually drives the inferior to extinction. This is true not only of genotypes within an ecosystem, but also of beliefs within a society, businesses within an economy, and any other forms, no matter how abstract, that compete over a set amount of resources, whether those resources be physical, psychological, economic or so on. To get back to the present problem, i.e. the specialization of gender within human evolution, the men were tasked with the more violent necessities of society; hunting, and fighting off predators or rivals. Now I come to the crux of my argument for it may be true that at some very abstract teleological level that the men performed these acts of violence in order to breed and carry on their genetic lineage, it by no means follows from this that that violence must then somehow be associated with sex psychologically. In fact, such violence requires such over-stimulation of the sympathetic system that to conflate it with sex would not only be unnecessary but dangerous.

To think that all acts of violence must somehow be an act of flaunting one's sexual prowess is frankly effeminate to the point of being pathetic. Women may romanticize about the gladiator killing in order to show off to the women in the audience, but one almost never be thinking about a women when one is facing a man with a sword who is intent upon killing them. The brutality that humanity is capable of should not be conflated with sexual showboating, it is a result of its own psychological drives; not a lust for women but a lust for power. One may respond that lust is lust, and the lust for power is really just a sublimated sexual drive. Freud would have argued that in his earlier days, but he later recanted it by inventing thantanos, the drive for death (as if natural selection could ever allow for such a thing). But this is merely begging the question against my previous arguments.

It is true that there is a certain equation between masculinity and power, but they aren't the same thing. Sexual potency is only one type of power. I am not saying that there isn't a sexual element involved in saying "I just raped that kid!" in Call of Duty, but it is secondary to the feeling of power. It is really just adding another element to the humiliation in order to make it more exhilarating, sex is a means not an ends in this particular circumstance.

The gentle writer has actually painted a much brighter picture than the truth. If the use of the word rape was merely sexual bravado it wouldn't be that frightening. However, if one plays on Xbox Live for any considerable amount of time, one will realize that the use of the term rape is not used for sexual showboating so much as humor. Many people use rape because of its taboo and twisted nature; it is actually FUNNY because it is so dark and violent, and to use it in a mundane and matter-of-fact manner makes it even more surreal and more hilarious. The same goes for the excessive and unwarranted racism. I very much doubt that even one percent of the people who use racist slurs on Xbox live belong to the KKK. In fact, I would go so far as to say that many of them don't actually harbor all that much ill will towards the objects of their slurs and jokes, just as the vast majority of them do not eat babies, but thoroughly enjoy dead baby jokes.

Xbox live is HEALTHY. All people put up facades in everyday life and maintain common courtesy. However, since Xbox live is faceless one does not have to adhere to the social norms. Once one realizes that one can truly say anything without repercussion it becomes a truly liberating experience. The feminist objection that this is all male showboating is really rather sad. The darker side of human nature such as anger, hatred, or aggression are perfectly natural. They still have an important role to play in society and always will. The idea that we will reach some utopia where violence will no longer be necessary is not only unrealistic in practice, but defies the very nature of life itself. There will always be competition between competing views, and such disputes can rarely be settled with reason. Why? Because reason is descriptive not prescriptive. One does not act by reason alone. Far from it. Reason can only guide us to the course of action that is most in line with our desires, but it cannot determine our desires themselves. And those desires are never universal, but serve individuals and factions. If someone desires "the greater good" at their own expense it is not because their mind has reached the platonic realm; it is because they have been conditioned to do so. And furthermore such a person is disfavored by nature. When society grows stronger it is at the expense of the individuals, just as a body exists due to the sacrifices of individual cells. The difference is that it is individuals that have minds that are capable of changing society as a whole, whereas society as a whole functions on blind forces. Thus it is a fallacy to think there will ever be an age in which all disputes are settled with reason alone, the universe will simply not allow it.

But I digress. My point is that violence and the will to power are not, in themselves, immature or the delusions of the male ego, no matter how much feminists may want us to think that. They are in fact the driving forces that have led humanity to its place in the world today. Giving play to our less socially acceptable drives through video games is an extremely healthy thing. Frankly, I would like to see more women expressing these types of aggressive behaviors. We have reached a level of technology now that allows women to leave the household life and participate in the world. But in order for them to do this they must recognize that life in the world necessitates violence and aggression. These are not male delusions, men are merely more prone to them because they needed to be, and so must women if they wish to thrive. Both scientific inquiry and the pursuit of knowledge itself are acts of aggression. To put it into Aristotelian terms aggression is not associated with male genitalia by necessity, but by accident. In many species of animals the females are the stronger gender. Women got the short straw because pregnancy, lactation, and the incredibly slow nature human development meant that they had to spend the vast majority of time tending to their young, which did not require that they be strong to fight or that they forge many tools. Instead those duties fell to men. Although that relation is no longer necessary, if women want to take on greater roles in the world they must adopt the traditionally male virtues that lead to success in those roles.

AgentNein:
Because you're not seeing the story doesn't mean it doesn't exist. You think Pokemon is hardcore eh? I'd venture to argue that you're in the minority on that one. I agree actually, but "I'm progressive and I assume other gamers think like me so your entire argument is flawed" is a horrible argument.

Perhaps you have a point, but I'm not saying that "I'm progressive and I assume other gamers think like me so your entire argument is flawed." Look at what the article says in its first paragraph:

For gamers, terms like "hardcore" and "casual" are a code with clear meanings. So let's be real, and call a spade a spade: "Hardcore" means dick.

My problem is in these so-called "clear" meanings. If this is so clear, how come I, someone who has spent way too much time playing games and online reading about games (and writing about them for that matter) have never even heard of this code? Or even seen it implied anywhere? At the very least I think it's a very inflammatory way to open an article, but I think it goes beyond that. I've read a few posts that have summarized the problems better than I will at the moment, so that's all I'll say for now.

But I'm curious. Do you agree that Pokemon is hardcore or do you agree with my general take on the article? For the former, if I'm in the minority and don't see it, it's because I spent a few too many years on a Pokemon board learning about EVs and IVs and the like. :P

Self proclaimed hard core gamers do over have a tendency to relate everything to something sexual. It is that group that feels the need to prove they are better than others, and less face it the overly competitive people are normally considered to be male. Now that I say that, hard core gamers are not all self proclaimed in my mind. I think a hard core gamer is just someone who is very good at the games they play. I respect those who don't go around spewing about how hard core they are much more. A hard core gamer is also someone who takes their game seriously, which is why so many games just get thrown out as automatically casual, because most of the time you play it to just to have fun, with no real care to push your ability in it. Could you become a hard core Sims player? I actually think so but because there is less consequence for playing badly it is less likely to. A hard core Sims player would be the type of person who see how fast they can make a million simoleons, and keeps pushing how fast they can do it... not likely but possible.

Point is I think hard core gamers are to often judged by who is out on forums claiming how "hardcore" they are, these are the people who for some reason despise the word casual, and really I don't think of those people as hard core... I think they are just being dicks :-p

An interesting article. I'm not entirely sure what to say about it though in an overall sense. I do know however that the use of the term "rape" in multiplayer gaming circles does seriously disturb me, and I don't use it. I prefer similarly effective terms such as "whacked", "offed", or "popped" that don't bother me so much to use casually.

That's a new angle. I have never heard/thought of hardcore meaning masculine and casual meaning feminine.

Hardcore - PEOPLE who play games hard, daily, take them (too)seriously, are part of a clan, have multiple systems, or have been playing games for a very long time.

Casual - PEOPLE who don't play games often, don't have any technical abilities, are younger, family oriented gamers, don't play often, have only been gaming this generation.

Notice I used the word "people" instead of males or females. I find both can fall into either category, or both. I have no idea what kind of group or people you talk to online, dude, but I'm pretty sure the whole sexism thing is over.

carpathic:

Brian Name:

I think some people just did not pick up the tone.

Rowan, I for one, salute you.

Whereas I would argue that if the majority of the people miss the tone. then the article was a failure.

This was not an open ended look at the gaming culture that intended to ask a question and then seek an answer. This was an article with an agenda, it started with an answer and then asked questions designed to lead to a preordained solution. I think that most people saw this agenda and called Rowan out on it.

That said, I think your point about the half-pint was salient. However, I also think that this is an implicit part of human communication, and your very comment points out that things are hardly the black and white that Rowan would have us believe.

I don't think it was a failure on the writer's part if a person didn't "get it" on the first read. Partially, maybe. But I think it was intended to be provocative and get a backlash. It was a success in that regard. It was entertaining and interesting to read as well, so that counts as a successful article in my book, even if I didn't agree with what it was saying.

Like I said before, I don't think the writer was trying to paint things in black and white at all. I think it was just asking us if we have thought about the extensions of our definitions of hardcore and casual. What I mean by that is many (though not all) people would probably agree with SIN's definitions:

CORRODED SIN:
That's a new angle. I have never heard/thought of hardcore meaning masculine and casual meaning feminine.

Hardcore - PEOPLE who play games hard, daily, take them (too)seriously, are part of a clan, have multiple systems, or have been playing games for a very long time.

Casual - PEOPLE who don't play games often, don't have any technical abilities, are younger, family oriented gamers, don't play often, have only been gaming this generation.

Notice I used the word "people" instead of males or females. I find both can fall into either category, or both.

Luckily, SIN is open-minded about the overlap in men/women in each category. But Rowan was basically asking us "Why do so many ultra-'hardcore' gamers associate casual gaming with girls? ('Heh. You're playing Sudoku? Bejeweled? Farmville!? Man-up and play a real game.')" All this being said, I don't agree that we need to revert to using the generalised term 'gamer.' There's nothing wrong with the word 'hardcore', there's only something wrong with the morons who think they're more manly because they avoid casual games.

As with what others have said about themselves, I've always considered "hardcore" to not only be about the types of games played but also, perhaps even more so, about the level of dedication to not only the game in question but to gaming as a whole.

For me it's similar to the differentiation between someone who, for example, watches a movie because they are bored and someone like Roger Ebert who watches movies on a much different level. Ebert doesn't just watch movies for a couple hours of escapist enjoyment. Ebert analyzes films, the techniques involved, their place in the larger cinema scene, etc. and likely finds great enjoyment in that as well. A "hardcore" gamer does the same thing with games and, just as with movie buffs, some gamers stick to very limited genres or to the medium as a whole. The motivation for a hardcore gamer is enjoyment in getting to the deeper experience in a game, be it Street Fighter or The Sims. This is, conversely, why I don't consider dedicated Farmville "players" as hardcore gamers. Their motivation is, in the vast majority of cases, quite different.

I love games that challenge male stereotypes as well as female. I personally can't stand games like Army of Two, Gears of War etc because the macho testosterone tanks that are the male characters are utterly alien. They don't represent manhood, they represent the kind of thing 13-year-olds think is manhood. I find it difficult to care about a story if I don't care about my character, and if I don't care about my character, why am I playing a single-player game? (Obviously this principle depends on the game and genre)

I believe single-player games are becoming more and more devoid of truly human characters, replaced with one-liner spouting walking cliche's. Even my all-time favorite male character, Garret from the Thief series fell into this unbreakably smug and arrogant persona, which, while key to his personality, was irking to some extent. However, Garret showed fear, and even love at points in the game, going against his established persona and demonstrating that, for all his ego, he was still human.

NamesAreHardToPick:
Empowerment RIP.

This article's not feminist, it's reinforcing and expanding gender stereotypes. Games about guns, blood, engines, sports... the article says these things are for BOYS ONLY in case anyone missed the memo.

I agree with the above statement completely. I kept waiting for the author to say that these stereotypes are false, but he didn't and it frustrates me to no end that someone would write a supposedly feminist critique of gaming without recognizing that women like me do play hardcore games. Several female friends of mine are hardcore gamers. The manager of the Gamestop I shop at is also a hardcore female gamer.

CORRODED SIN:

Hardcore - PEOPLE who play games hard, daily, take them (too)seriously, are part of a clan, have multiple systems, or have been playing games for a very long time.

Casual - PEOPLE who don't play games often, don't have any technical abilities, are younger, family oriented gamers, don't play often, have only been gaming this generation.

I think this is a more accurate definition of the terms hardcore and casual gamer. That's why I, as a woman, define myself as a hardcore gamer while several of my male friends would define themselves as casual gamers. I also agree that the terms are becoming popular because dedicated gamers want to separate themselves from the growing number of people who only play games occasionally and vice versa.

Rowan Kaiser:

First, there's a difference between "male" and "masculine," likewise "female" and "feminine." The former is a physical attribute. The latter is are the qualities which are associated with those attributes, ie, the stereotypes. Men supposed to be violent, logical, and physical. Women are supposed to be caring and emotional. By "masculinity" or "maleness" I don't necessarily mean men, but I do think these stereotypes exist in our society.

None of the terms I can think of with their proper roots in hardcore gaming are sexual... "ownage", "griefing", "ganking", even recent memes like "u mad?" As a hardcore gamer, this hardcore = masculine argument comes completely out of left field. Gaming is a horribly nerdy hobby, there's nothing macho about it even at the hardcore extreme. It's only a boys club - as far as I understand it - to the extent that the typical gamer is percieved as a creepy pent-up manbaby good for free in-game items and dorky stalking and women - on average - have no interest in being associated with us. That's changed over the last few years but basically gaming has always been home to the least manly of the men and the suggestion that online attempts at machismo corresponds to anything less than hilarious fail is like calling me Cassanova because of the amount of porn I wank to. The concept of 'e-peen' shows that the perception of online aggression as being entirely dickless has been around for about as long as the internet.

Also bear in mind that sexual and racial terms are used for offense precisely because they're subjects American culture is sensitive about. If your article was based on quebecois gamers you would think hardcore = "religious" because their most offensive terms revolve around religion. Male name-calling is really juvenile in comparison to what women will whip out. A guy might call you a faggot. A female will make up a term like cum-dumpster, which assumes you're gay as the entry point to a nuclear burn about the many poor anonymous sources for the semen you spend all day having pounded into your body. Vive la difference.

Second, I don't think that acknowledging that these stereotypes exist reinforces them. That's analogous the people who say that acknowledging economic differences between races is racist, which is not something I believe. Your mileage may vary, I suppose.

You say you're "acknowledging" these stereotypes, but it looks more like "inserting" them to me. Some economic divides might be entirely unrelated to race... projecting racism on to unrelated problems distracts people from the real issues in play and the dishonest presentation damages the credibilty of alleged racism where it is justified.

First I'm going to quote someone else from another forum because they touch on a lot of my thoughts.

The article is definitely overthinking it, and makes a ridiculous examples to back up its claims. In reality, "casual" versus "hardcore" merely implies "easiness and accessibility" versus "difficulty and accomplishment."

As they've said, Bejeweled is a game that is extremely simple in concept, and could be considered casual. You're not going to find the depth in Farmville as you might have had in say, Harvest Moon. It's a casual game because it involves the player clicking plots over and over in order till, plant, and harvest. Some guy runs a spreadsheet to find the most efficient crops, but there's no goal, no time limit; merely simple interaction, no exploration of the game environment, and that same guy gets bored in a month. Rewards derive not from skillful cooperation or time management, but a large friend list and an alarm. Just because you wake up at 3 AM to take a piss doesn't mean that taking a piss at 3 AM is as hard is it takes to play a piano. Plants vs. Zombies was incredibly fun, but you'd be kidding yourself if you believed to be at the difficulty of Warcraft 3.

"E-peen" is a derogatory term, and proper common usage isn't even considered without a degree of sarcasm. Is the author really familiar with the material? You can make an argument with the word "raped," but where does that really fit in the hardcore versus casual debate? Yes, it implies dominance resulting in horrible humiliation of the victim, but that's a term that both "casual" players and "hardcore" players use. Might the author suggest more appropriate hyperbolic metaphors?

In the example of WoW, which the author seems fond of (and yet not entirely familiar with), the term "casual" merely is primarily associated with players advocating the decline of difficulty, and the increased accessibility of a lot of content. In the forums, "casual" is as much a derogatory term as "elitists." And of course, there are people who feel that MMOs in general are casual. It's really a spectrum of perceived difficulty and achievement; you're not going to give the works of R.L. Stine the same credit as say, the works of Lovecraft.

The entire article seems poorly done, along the vein on high school and introductory university writing assignments where a possibly exciting claim needs to rely on a tad too much extrapolation as supporting arguments.

I also feel this article went to far trying to attribute to the terms hardcore and casual as subtext for feminine and masculine strongly.

Hardcore and casual has always been more about elitists vs plebeians.

The elitists in essence are the establishment and the establishment developed from a pool of 6-17 year old males who grew up. So it's not out of line to say people who consider themselves hardcore are prone to expressing stereotypical masculinity and shun feminine characteristics but the elitists as a block are roughly divided, and IMO the minority of that group are prone to making their e-peens bigger. (Now I have recent news to link to that makes my point even more salient.)

Other than that very big misstep I really enjoyed the article. It made me think about how I should address the gaming community since I have a desire to be part of the industry. I hope for more content like this from the escapist or any other gaming related publication.

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