299: A New Breed of Player

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A New Breed of Player

A new kind of gamer - a hybrid between the "casual" and "hardcore" demographics - could represent the next paradigm shift for the industry.

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I think that the developers are already working towards a middle ground, although not necessarily because of any need to get the hybrid dollars or anything like that. With the success of the casual games market developers are trying to get their games a little closer to that end of the spectrum. They will naturally fall towards the middle because of this.Ssince they won't want to completely alienate their faithful hardcore (hell hat no fury like a nerds wrath) and still scrap some percentage points off the casual pie we will probably see more examples similar to SCII in the "easy to learn, hard to master" vein. Obviously though there is always going to be the ends of the spectrum (farmville type games will always exists and so will the soul crushing hardcore type games) but we'll just see things fall to the middle as developers try to reach for as much of the pie as they can.

Also, for some reason I couldn't help but think were moving towards something like this with all the Hardcore/Casual/Now "Hybrid" type demographics that just seem to keep growing and narrowing their scope:

Good article, and a thought provoker.

The "improve slower" concept is something I like, and is something Day[9] of StarCraft2 fame advocate if you want to get into playing SC2; Play just 5 games a week.

I think that is what makes SC2 such a good casual game, a game takes less than an hour but during that hour you are so in the game trying to win. Sure playing just 5 games a week wont place you in the Masters League, but you will slowly creep up to Diamond if you keep it up.

I welcome thee new Hybrid Gamer!

Marshall Honorof:
A New Breed of Player

A new kind of gamer - a hybrid between the "casual" and "hardcore" demographics - could represent the next paradigm shift for the industry.

Read Full Article

Though It is thought provoking, it also seems to make me sad for some reason!?!?!?!

They were called "arcade games". Short games that emphasized skill over deep involvment. Pac-man, Donkey Kong. Am I ringing a bell here?

This mythical new kind of game you're talking about was what gaming used to be before challenge and well-design gameplay were thrown out in favor of "RPG elements" and all of this "cinematic" nonsense.

I completely agree with this article and argument because I definitely fit in this category. I am a college student, I have a busy life, with studying, girlfriend, partying, and also gaming. That's why I am so picky about the games that I buy. It has to be in an excellent quality, both graphics and gameplay. I only have few games on my shelf, that I hold dear and won't sale for collection purpose. Right now I am only playing Battlefield: Bad Company 2. I played it when I have time in between my activities. But at the same time, I am a clan leader with more than 50 members. I am one of the best in my clan and I can say that I am pretty good overall in game. So yea, welcome us, the hybrid type gamers :)

I fell into this category some time ago. It finally dawned on me when I did some quick calculations and discovered that my DS is currently my primary gaming device. If I have some unexpected down time at work, I can get in a burst of gaming, which adds up over time. I play my 360 for only a few hours on weekends and have two unopened games I was given as gifts. I would love to play it more, but other concerns currently demand my attention.

NaramSuen:
I fell into this category some time ago. It finally dawned on me when I did some quick calculations and discovered that my DS is currently my primary gaming device. If I have some unexpected down time at work, I can get in a burst of gaming, which adds up over time. I play my 360 for only a few hours on weekends and have two unopened games I was given as gifts. I would love to play it more, but other concerns currently demand my attention.

This is like me exactly. I've considered myself some kind of crazy hybrid of hardcore/casual for a long time. I don't have a lot of time in big chunks to dedicate to the games I love, so I'm forced to play games that are easy to step in and step out of. It's why I had to stop playing Final Fantasy XI-- it requires a dedication of 2+ consecutive hours to even so much as go out and earn experience points, when I only have about 15 minutes of free time in between doing other things.

In general I probably have a good 8 or more hours per day of free time, but it's so split-up that I can't dedicate a lot of time to it.

I would consider myself in that category. I love the hardcore games like L4D, TF2, Blops, Gears and take them very seriously when I play but I don't spend all day playing them and pretty much only play a few times a week for maybe 8 hours total. I used to be pretty hardcore in WoW when it was actually somewhat hard but now I just don't even bother with the game and log on to talk to friends and do a little archaeology every now and then.

BloodSquirrel:
They were called "arcade games". Short games that emphasized skill over deep involvment. Pac-man, Donkey Kong. Am I ringing a bell here?.

Took the words right out of my keyboard.

I'd also like to add that there has been a great deal of polarization in the past decade by people - both gaming media and gamers alike - about whether a player falls into a "hardcore" or "casual" category. This only serves to alienate the non- gaming extremist, particularly non-"hardcore" gamers.

I think this article is evidence that the gaming media is starting to recognize that not everyone falls into one of two extreme categories. I've all but given up on other gaming websites due to their total embellishment of this polarizing culture.

I'm looking forward to where The Escapist can go with this concept.

BloodSquirrel:
They were called "arcade games". Short games that emphasized skill over deep involvment. Pac-man, Donkey Kong. Am I ringing a bell here?

This mythical new kind of game you're talking about was what gaming used to be before challenge and well-design gameplay were thrown out in favor of "RPG elements" and all of this "cinematic" nonsense.

I would have to disagree with you about that. The "cinematic" nonsense you speak of is what gave us the elements of gaming in the first place, the ideal interest that made us into gaming overall as becoming the player.

RPG elements are a strategy type of game where the player has far more choices to choose from then what games normally offers like how the Elder Scrolls: Oblivion offers you to choose your character's race, gender, looks, class, name, and even the missions he/she takes. Are you telling me that the games before hand were pushed aside by games that are considered casual too? Because they used Mass Effect as an example:

While there will always be a place for narrative-driven experiences with deep gameplay like Mass Effect or God of War, hardcore gamers would be unwise to look down their noses at the rise of the online shooters, the rhythm games, and the handheld market.

The game is entitled with much to offer the player, which is casual as well when you think about it. Players can get deeply in tack with the games that offer them experience if not morals through their actions, thus has elements of shoorts and rythm games into one, they just don't make it stand out or else it'll take away the role that games like Mass Effect are going for.

As for your ways of expressing "cinematic" nonsense, you forget that it depends on the player on how they take games. The player can be fully obsessed with Call of Duty: Black Ops for hours on end by it's storyline rather then multiplayer online, but that player cherishes what the game is getting at. Maybe it makes them feel more like an actual Black Ops, going on a mission to aid Wood and taking out aggresive dictators. Also, if every game was based on the new mythical element and that players resorted to playing it like how games were back then, we'll not be able to move forward as an industry.
We must take in every game that there is in the Gaming Industry and learn from it, good and bad. Without bad examples, we'd not improve our games because everyone is 'fine' with it. But, because we have every type of game plus gamer out there.. we can take note and observe which lets us expand what we know about games and improve it to become a greater success.

Your sister sounds like my girlfriend. For the life of me I can't convince her to try out new games that have a more involved storyline or gameplay. She says she doesn't have "time" for it.

I kind of rolled my eyes every time she said it, but now that I have a full-time job with an hour commute each way, I'm feeling the pinch for time as well.

I'm lucky if I get one hour a night to play any kind of game, any more than that and it cuts in to my sleeping.

With more and more games coming out in a constant barrage, and many of them requiring hours and hours of investment to really enjoy, it's becoming extremely difficult to find time to play everything I want to, and forcing me to become much more picky and discerning on what I play. I recently bought a bunch of stuff on sale but now it's all collecting dust because I don't have the time for it. At the rate I'm playing games now it will take me months just to finish a robust title like Red Dead Redemption, and that's if I don't play any of the other 10 or so games I currently want to.

But giving up and having to demote/limit my gaming experience to angry birds on the commute is EXTREMELY depressing.

bughhhh I hate jobs :p

derski Law,

New breed?Teh fck? casuals are still casuals, only those called hardcore are now in the casual demo. The only difference between them is one scet is a graphics whore.
When people talk of the casual core I think of them. Hardcore for me are people who focus on either depth in mechanics or stories if you do not you are just another zombie casual sheep.
/mechanic nazi
/curmudgeon

XxRyanxX:
I would have to disagree with you about that. The "cinematic" nonsense you speak of is what gave us the elements of gaming in the first place, the ideal interest that made us into gaming overall as becoming the player.

That's a horribly depressing view of gaming that forever casts it at Movie's wannabe little brother. Some of us are actually into video games for the game aspect, not to watch hour-long cutscenes.

XxRyanxX:

RPG elements are a strategy type of game where the player has far more choices to choose from then what games normally offers like how the Elder Scrolls: Oblivion offers you to choose your character's race, gender, looks, class, name, and even the missions he/she takes. Are you telling me that the games before hand were pushed aside by games that are considered casual too? Because they used Mass Effect as an example:

No, those are actual RPGs. "RPG elements" is the new rage to add forms of grinding to games that don't need them. Go look up the Extra Credits on the Skinner Box to understand the difference.

Don't puzzle games already fill this niche? Easy to get into, requires more skill as time goes on, but not anything impossible. Especially mobile puzzlers do this well, stuff like Cube Smashers, Tetris and Nintaii.

"new kind of hybrid"

What?! No this hybrid has existed for a very long time, and is older than the concept of "hardcore" gamers, that is, what you're calling the hybrid, is what hardcore gamers USED to be.

i hope it's a hybrid, so that it cannot reproduce itself....

Orcus_35:
i hope it's a hybrid, so that it cannot reproduce itself....

Agreed. I would just die if another swarm of Farmville players sent me a "Friend Request" LOL!

Why do you think Pokemon only gets new creatures in their handhelds?

Best article I've read since the one on Seaman. The hybrid gaming market has been very interesting to me because in terms of narrative, I think it could make advances in the same vein as Half Life if it reaches its full potential. The stories won't necessarily be the best in the world, but the method of storytelling in such a format will be far more effective than the corners that have to be cut to tell a story in a more epic game like Mass Effect for Morrowind. Great storytelling is all about efficiency of words and mechanics, and the hybrid market is really going to make efficiency a huge priority.

While hardcore games may be taking a bit of a hit, I think we are on the brink of the most exciting revolutions gaming will have had to offer since 2007. This will be a very interesting time.

BloodSquirrel:
They were called "arcade games". Short games that emphasized skill over deep involvment. Pac-man, Donkey Kong. Am I ringing a bell here?

This mythical new kind of game you're talking about was what gaming used to be before challenge and well-design gameplay were thrown out in favor of "RPG elements" and all of this "cinematic" nonsense.

When you're limited to 256 colors and 4Kb of memory, it's kind of hard to write a very deep game that would appeal to as wide a group as it did.

In fact, if you went back to the NES itself, you could probably figure out what games could have been put into arcade machines with nothing more than seeing if it had a standard lives system or not. If it didn't, there's a good chance it was an RPG. Dragon Warrior(see Dragon Quest now), Final Fantasy, Faxanidu, and The Legend of Zelda are all games that don't really belong in an arcade cabinet, simply because the system isn't designed like that.

Castlevania, Contra, Ghosts and Goblins, and Super Mario Brothers could probably have all been put into arcade machines, and nobody really would have batted an eye. Does that make them casual games then? Pay a coin to get X lives, and try not to get killed too much.

I think you've got a good concept, but the method you're using is a bit off.

I don't know how "new" this breed of gamer can really be called...growing up poor and still being about as rich as an ice salesman in Alaska, I have to choose my games very carefully as I don't have much money or time to invest every other new game that drops, honestly, I've been a member of this "new" breed since the mid 80's...nice to know somebody's noticing, though.

'New' breed of gamer? I disagree.
I'm 22 and I get a few hours of games per week, sometimes none, sometimes more, but I've never been a hardcore gamer or casual gamer.

I think people who don't play loads of games, but still play the type of games hardcore players are into, aren't easily used archetypes so people generally don't talk about em.

vxicepickxv:
Castlevania, Contra, Ghosts and Goblins, and Super Mario Brothers could probably have all been put into arcade machines, and nobody really would have batted an eye. Does that make them casual games then? Pay a coin to get X lives, and try not to get killed too much.

I've actually played Super Mario Bros. in an arcade cabinet. It was really, really hard, compared to the NES version. The levels were essentially the same, but there were small differences here and there that made jumps tougher, put enemies in different spots, made wider gaps, etc. I thought I was going to be really good at it, since I'd finished the game on my NES many times. Boy, was I wrong. A humbling experience.

It's odd that you're editorialising on something as if it's a new frontier when, in fact, this has been the case for a hell of a long time. What makes you think there's always been 'hardcore' or 'casual' and no 'in between'?

For as long as I remember, myself and a number of friends have been in this category, and to give you a scope of age, I'm 27. We'd all enjoy PC and console games in fits and bursts, never getting games (except the occasional rarity) on release and usually avoiding certain types of games considered 'hardcore' like shooters.

Now I'm older, and have he funds to buy games, I'm still only getting the occasional one on release, and usually find myself sinking hours into Dragon Age (and other RPGs), Assassin's Creed, God of War, and scattered independent or franchised games here and there... but all at a rate of a couple of hours every couple of days, and perhaps spend half of my weekend playing as well, one game at a time.

Casual hardcore is no new thing. Honestly. And trying to report that it is just stinks of bad journalism.

I think this is me already since I have the attention span of a kitten that's had too much catnip and wandered into a factory of 'Bells and assorted sparkly things'

On a normal day I can play frontierville, Fallout Vegas, Build a house on the sims 3, play Mass Effect 2 or Dead Space, go raiding on wow with my guild that I run and then finish the day playing L4D with some very male friends. Maybe playing Dwarf Fortress waiting for them to get together. I'm not sure what I am. Does that make me a casual gamer, a hardcore one or just sadly addicted. :<

Books are allowed to have time-consuming, deep narratives aren't they? Movies are allowed to express deep thoughts right? And if you love reading, and you're reading something good, you don't even realize the time has gone by. Films are at least ninety minutes or more, but with a good film, you barely notice the time fly. Playing games is the same way. If I'm playing a game I love, hours will pass, and I won't even notice. If it just so happens to have an interesting or well-rounded story as well, then that's just a bonus.

And say for example you are reading that book, or watching that film, but then you realize you have something else that takes priority to do. You put a bookmark in the book. You stop the movie. You come back to it later. Games aren't so different. Isn't that why games have checkpoints and game-save opportunities? Maybe games like Dragon Age and God of War can take hours upon hours to complete, but I doubt game developers think there are people playing the game straight for those hours and hours, with no breaks. Or else, why would the save function be available throughout?

While I'm not against the idea of whatever a "hybrid" game would be (a challenging game, without a time constraint), I just don't think that that's what important. I don't think when an author pens a novel, they think "I wonder how long it will take my audience to read this?" They just pen the novel as best as they can and leave the readers to allocate their own time accordingly. And isn't the gaming industry trying to get up on the same playing field as novels and the such? Game developers should think the same way: focus on making their games good, rather than worry about how much time the player has to play them. That's for the player to decide.

XxRyanxX:

As for your ways of expressing "cinematic" nonsense, you forget that it depends on the player on how they take games. The player can be fully obsessed with Call of Duty: Black Ops for hours on end by it's storyline rather then multiplayer online, but that player cherishes what the game is getting at.

I'm one of that sort of player and also of the "have very little money or time for games, only buy a few and play them to death" set, it's good to see it acknowledged.

I consider myself a Halo fan. I have the games and the novels and love it for its storyline. I've played all the campaigns over and over again, both solo and co-op with my husband. But I just can't get into the multiplayer because it's not fun if all you do is die. I'd give anything for the ability to play multiplayer games against people at my level of (lack of) skill-- my husband and I are pretty evenly matched and I enjoy PVP against him, but just wish there were a bunch more similarly-skilled people on the map to play with. I tried the basic training in Halo 3, but it seemed like most of the players were experienced players moving quickly through to qualify.

(Thank god for Firefight, it's perfect for us. Fully tuneable difficulty settings, get in and play for 10 minutes and then go to work.)

What the article mentions with Starcraft sounds ideal, a matchmaking system that actually matches you with people who similarly stink!

I know there are grammar Nazis out there, so I'm going to ask this question. Shouldn't the first sentence be "bad" instead of "badly"? Because doesn't "badly" mean that the writer is feeling his sister badly? When do you use either? Not hating, I'm genuinely confused.

Maybe they could get us to buy more if they made games worth buying. Ya know games that don't suck.

Ya know what, I like deep complex and involving story lines,and i believe that video games have great potential as a story telling medium, so when someone says that complex stories in games are a negative and insinuates that we need to cut back on those, it really pisses me off. I don't want to see the things that i love about games continue to disappear. I mean often it seems to me that turn based combat (something that I actually enjoy) in many places seemingly are seen as dirty words, how bioware seemed to want to take the RPG out of mass effect and turn it into a straight action game, and how Alpha Protocol received at least some of its criticism because you actually have to have a decent number of points in a stat to be good at it. Now I'm being told that games stories may have to take a hit as well in gaming's future? This does not seem like good news to me. I just feel a bit frustrated sometimes at the direction gaming may be going in.

I HATE the terms "casual" and now "hardcore". Its like some new kid stepped in the club and forced a meme into gaming culture.

I belive the term "hardcore" had a little more meaning than "I like to play games, alot".

...
Oh God! Gaming is dead! You just cant see the graves underneath the dancing newbies!Aahh..much better.

BloodSquirrel:
They were called "arcade games". Short games that emphasized skill over deep involvment. Pac-man, Donkey Kong. Am I ringing a bell here?

This mythical new kind of game you're talking about was what gaming used to be before challenge and well-design gameplay were thrown out in favor of "RPG elements" and all of this "cinematic" nonsense.

Thank YOU! This is the second article this week I have read that involves concepts killed by the industry, then rehashed as if to say something new. I couldn't have said it better myself.

What a terrible theory. No gamer wants bullcrap Zynga shit in their games, and Farmville players don't want a challenge or interesting gameplay. I'm not saying that maliciously, they really don't want more mechanics in their game.

BloodSquirrel:
They were called "arcade games". Short games that emphasized skill over deep involvment. Pac-man, Donkey Kong. Am I ringing a bell here?

This mythical new kind of game you're talking about was what gaming used to be before challenge and well-design gameplay were thrown out in favor of "RPG elements" and all of this "cinematic" nonsense.

I was thinking this. When I was a kid I didn't need a story I needed to win, that's pretty much what's being described in the article. Old games.

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