Posted on May 27, 2008, Shawn Sines Zarathustran's Factions and Philosophies of Video Gamers
There’s a series on video games and gaming culture by Zarathustran on Moving Pixels, the PopMatters multimedia blog. Zarathustran Analytics in Video Games, Part 8: The Factions of Gaming compares the way different types of gamers interpret each video game to critiquing art from different perspectives. He believes most gamers fall into one of three different points of view or philosophies on gaming.
The casual gamers are all about the fun. Games should be entertaining, not frustrating or too challenging, but not boring either.
Probably the most famous proponent of this mindset is The Escapist‘s critic Yahtzee. He makes the point in several reviews that when a game decides game design or plot should be more important than the player having fun, it is wrong for doing so.
The hardcore philosophy is typified by honesty and brutality. Hardcore gamers are also partial to games with massive replay value.
…you’re gauging a game’s quality by how it engages you rather than solely on how fun it is. The depth and polish of the game design is what’s important to the hardcore values.
The third point of view is dubbed the ex-core.
Once you play video games long enough you tend to quit expecting novelty constantly because genuinely new game designs are few and far between. Yet the blinking lights of casualism’s “fun, fun, fun” attitude don’t exactly do it either. I still expect to be engaged and actually enjoy the game experience. Thus, playing games that offer a good experience by whatever means necessary is the gauge of the ex-core.
These gamers tend to judge titles on a game-to-game basis; and success or failure of a game is a very personal opinion
The point of this article is that gamers need to stop simply looking at games as good or bad and talk about the elements that make up the games. Through discussion we may not agree, but we can at least meet on common ground.
The reason it’s important to stop using these terms as labels and refer to them as philosophies is because countless games contain elements of all these beliefs.
By having multiple philosophies and not just labeling everything as good or bad, we can generate deeper conversations about video games themselves.