Hardcore you know the score
The keen-eyed reader may have noticed that we’ve been playing around with the summary tagline that attempts to describe this blog in a single sentence. It’s actually quite a difficult thing to pin down, as Agoners is really about an attitude to gaming and our thoughts that develop from that, coupled with a wider reach on just about any gaming-related topic that interests us. I guess the whole purpose of this blog is founded in my own constant quest to find games reviews & articles by writers who share my kind of perspective on gaming. Whilst I also value a wider or counter-perspective as well, when it comes to the matter of opinion I can trust for buying or more importantly, investing my time in a game, I really do want an author who I can tell actually thinks somewhat like me. So for example, when I’m reading reviews of Madden 10, and deciding not to buy the title for yet another year despite my historical love of football video-gaming, it really helps me to have some faith in a review when the writer compares the actual gameplay to NFL2k5 or to the real sport of football. Ideally I’d also like to see hardcore views on the online & offline competitive portion of the game – but sadly things like this only really come around a few weeks or months after the game’s release, and I’ll probably have to forum trawl, or quiz friends that actually play it, since I know of no-where in the gaming press actually does this kind of hardcore review. Other than painstaking internet research on each & every individual title, nowhere provides the information I’d really like to know. Most of the time I simply have to play it myself to find out, which is unfortunate given how little precious gaming time I sometimes have available.
I seem to keep using that word: hardcore.
“musings of hardcore competitive gamers”
I’d better point out that I completely disagree with the traditional ‘hardcore’ or ‘casual’ gamer distinction. That model is quite clearly an overly simplistic and flawed one… so what do I mean & why do I even use the term at all? Well Only a Game explained this perfectly, so I won’t rehash the same ground but simply direct you there.
When I use the term ‘hardcore’ I mean the confluence of both the dimensions described there: A highly gaming literate ‘gamer hobbyist’, who also particularly enjoys ‘hard fun’ (agon) and punishing games; in particular this is most often found in games with human competition, and so therefore social factors involved in playing that game also often become important.
I’m well aware this is actually a very niche interest & it’s becoming rarer as gaming becomes more mainstream. The peak of gaming fun for me is most often when I’m dying, or losing, over and over in a game and being really challenged and then finally beating it – or even better my opponent – by improving my actual skill – not just winning by getting more ‘levels’ on my character, a better gun, or by luck. Whilst I may get temporarily frustrated, I know this is actually what I enjoy the most. However I’m also extremely particular about the manner in which a game challenges me. Whilst I can enjoy all of the traditonal skill tests in games – strategic, tactical, logistic & diplomatic, I still have general strong dislike for tests of rote-learning (eg. learning the map in an FPS), trial & error (eg. point & click adventure games with illogical solutions), and overly complex dexterity tests and non-interactive parts of a competitive game (eg. long combo strings in a fighting game), and I also have a wider ‘general interest’ taste in games than just this, but it is definitely my core.
A hardcore gamer in these terms will probably identify with more than one of these gamer types but will definitely associate most strongly with ‘Conqueror’.
You’ll certainly come out as some kind of Conqueror type in the Brainhex survey too.
Add in a self-analytical slant & a love of thinking about why you play and what you get out of it, and you’ve got, well, Agoners.
Incidently, if any of this sounds like you and you’d like to write for Agoners, feel free to get in touch via the comments! Or if you know of any websites you think I’d like to read that aren’t already featured on our links, again, please comment.