Thursday, 28 May 2015

Casually Hardcore Gamer?

Evening all,

Now there are certain things in life that are inevitable. Taxes and death are 2 things that spring to mind, but one of the more social inevitabilities is that of labelling.

You wear lots of black, white make-up and listen to dreary sounding rock music - you're a goth.

You have a beard and wear off-beat clothes - you're a hipster.

You are a Tory voter - you're deluded.

You support Chelsea, Man Utd or Millwall - you're brainless.

The list goes on, and that list extends to the world of gaming, usually in the form of those who are fanboys, hardcore gamers, casual gamers, noobs, retro gamers and the list does tend to go on.

Now I tend to categorise myself in a group of gamers that can only be growing in size: I'm a Casually Hardcore Gamer.

Now there are certain elements that I've thought of that put's one in this category.

Firstly: You must have a passion for gaming that is unmoveable. I have a passion for gaming, have done since I was a tiny little Toolbox. Loved them all, from old DOS games like Gorillas.bas and Digger to Wolf3D, Doom and Quake, moving on through to games like Metal Gear Solid, WWF Attitude, FIFA (minus the massive amounts of alleged money embezzlement) to Championship Manager, then Football Manager, Mass Effect, GTA and many more. Gaming is a passion of mine that just cannot be quenched. Whether it's revisiting old games again, or exploring new ones - gaming doesn't get old for me.

Secondly: As much as you love gaming, life events tend to be more important. Such is life. When I was younger, I went to school or college, then after a little bit of homework or a little bit of time with my mates - the computer beckoned. Sometimes, the mates would be fobbed off or homework left to the last minute because. hey, it's CLEARLY more important to me. But then you grow up a bit - this doesn't mean that gaming is no longer important - and things happen. You get married, you have kids, you have a more responsible job. These things inevitably...get in the way. Now that could be read wrong. My wife and kids don't "get in the way" of time that I could be spent wait, they totally do - but it's alright, cos I love them dearly and would do anything for them. So games of Toy Story Happy Families and Guess Who? or going for walks to the park or spending some quality time  with the Mrs are as, if not in a strange way MORE important than gaming. I know right, as if anything could be more important! But really, they are. I never would have thought it growing up, but there you go.

Thirdly: Time spent playing is limited - but treasured. This little nugget is so true. I don't tend to get on the computer for any "me time" until the kids have gone to play in their room before bed and the wife is on her laptop watching the tele. As much as I'd love to roll in from work, sit my fat arse down and play some GTA or Football Manger (the 2 games diving my gaming attention at the moment), that's just not gonna happen. Dinner needs to be made, the rubbish needs to be taken to the outside bin and other things need doing. But when the evening rolls round, and the kids are gone...then I'm no longer a father, or a husband. I'm Toolbox24 - gamer. The other thing though is that when I was younger, late nights gaming into the wee hours, even before work, were commonplace. I mean, I only worked at Argos, it's not like I needed to use much of my brain. Now however, I work an important job in the Civil Service, and as such, I need to go to work and actually use my brain for good. This means (unless it's the weekend) no late night gaming sesh's. So the time gaming, is minimal - especially with tea/coffee breaks with the wife - or getting the kids teeth cleaned and bedtime story read.

Fourthly: You sneak gaming in wherever and whenever you can. I work in an office. Sometimes I need to photocopy a ton of shit. While I'm stood over the photocopier waiting for it to do it's thing I could do 1 of 2 things. I could stand and wait, maybe check the stationary cupboard...OR I could whip my phone out and play some games. This sneaking of gaming in is where casual gaming comes into play. I generally wouldn't spend my evening playing Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff, or Criminal Case. No, no, no...I would however play them whilst sitting on the porcelain throne or having a tea break. And in doing so, I have played over 500 games of pool on 8 Ball Pool on Miniclip, completed pretty much every Angry Birds iteration out there and am steadily approaching level 800 on Candy Crush Saga to name but a few. Gaming is somewhat of a way of life, and it's one I am immensely happy with - be it with "proper" games or casual ones.

Fifthly: You don't play just one type of game. This one is important now, it's important for anyone who wants to really appreciate the art, sophistication and subtle nuances of gaming. Someone who just sits and plays CoD or Battlefield all day - no matter if they spend most of their days and nights doing so, can't really be called a hardcore gamer. They fit more snugly into the Fanboy category, along with the people who bicker over the superiority of the Playstation or Xbox. It's just not going to happen. I figure that you need to regularly play and enjoy at least 4 different types of game, to be embedded into the hardcore gamer fold. Now herein lies a caveat - no matter how many casual games you play, they cannot count towards the 5. The following game types can:
  • First Person Shooter (Call of Duty, Battlefield, Portal etc)
  • Role Playing Games (Elder Scrolls, Mass Effect, Fallout etc)
  • Sports Simulator (FIFA, NBA, Madden etc)
  • Real Time Strategy (Command & Conquer, Age of Empires, Starcraft etc)
  • Other Strategy (Civilization, Hearthstone, etc)
  • Management Simulator (Football Manager, Prison Architect, Cities: Skylines etc)
  • Action/Adventure (The Witcher, GTA, Batman Arkham series etc)
  • Platform (Mario, Limbo, Terraria etc)
  • Survival / Horror (DayZ, Resident Evil, Dead Space etc)
The list does go on, but I would say that you need to be an aficionado of at least 4 genres - including the bonus indy game genre. Which of course is a mixture of all genres, but independently made. FTL, Game Dev Tycoon, Plague Inc: Evolved, Gunpoint to again name a few.

Roll those 5 elements together, and you have a hardcore gamer, who hasn't got time to be a hardcore gamer - so he does it casually. The usual type of gamer that this will end up being is a parent.

So yeah, I play casual games, I play proper games too. And I don't pretend that I'm some kind of divine Über gamer - I'm alright, I'm pretty decent and I occasionally have moments of greatness but overall, I'm pretty average. But that doesn't diminish how much I bloody love to play. When I get the chance. I mean even writing this, I've gotten one daughter a carrot, the other one a milk, sorted a tablet out that had disconnected from the wifi and had an incredibly brief chat with the Mrs before she went out to read her book.

So yeah. In summary, I'm a Casually Hardcore Gamer. I'm proud of this, and I won't pretend to be anything that I'm not. And I would imagine, that guys and gals who are in their mid-20's to late-30's who grew up on some awesome games in the 90's and early naughties, probably fit quite snugly into this category as well.

Nighty Night.