Gaming Like A Sir: A New Breed, A Hybrid: The Casual Hardcore Gamer
Casual games have done something wonderful. No. Seriously.
It is cold and wet and rainy. I am inside and it is night. The week is ending, varsity is under control and for a brief moment, I feel at peace. I enrobe myself in my favourite hoody and my warmest pants, I prepare the most glorious cup of tea and then nestle in front of my computer.
My chair creaks, my desktop hums and whirrs, crickets start a choir. Silence.
I am staring at my computer like a drooling fool. Not a single game I want to play. Now I know where you think this article is going. You think I’m about to tell you a story of how I picked up some casual Facebook turd of a game and had a great time. If you’ve been paying attention and not half reading while whatever porn you were watching buffers, then you probably think that I’m about to start talking about casual games and their value to society.
I’m not. I’m so serious, I’m not even going to undercut this a joke.
I know that saying that is itself a kind of joke in a very comedic Inception-like conundrum of linguistic science, but I’m serious. Very serious, super Saiyan serious.
Casual games broke me. I broke through being a gaming monster and have become a connoisseur. I used to enjoy gaming for the newness of the experience. New mechanics, new story, new artstyle, new, new, new. Everything was shiny and glossy and had that new game smell. It was exhilarating.
Then I got my shiny Android. Suddenly every bus and every boring lecture was an opportunity to game. Cut the Rope, Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, and even Dead Space. They were mostly casual games. Aimed at moms, children and “ironic” varsity students. I didn’t care, I was having fun and frankly it’s nobody’s business what I play. For a time, it was good.
Then something snapped inside me. I just suddenly didn’t care anymore. There was no buildup and no warning. I didn’t suddenly run out of things to do nor did I stop having a good time. I just suddenly couldn’t be bothered to play. I started listening in lectures, jamming to music on the bus and staring into space lost in thought in my spare moments.
This stretched from my normal routine right into my hardcore gaming life. All those games that I’d been meaning to play or finish. The hoard of forgotten titles, of marred gems, the whole squatting lot of AA titles and misunderstood masterpieces suddenly paled in comparison to almost anything else.
What happened? Was I hit by some kind of ray or beam?
I don’t have an answer. I have some theories. Probably the combination of several things but mostly I think I’ve just moved on. I now demand a higher level of experience from my spare time. Maybe it’s because I’m busy with friends or perhaps varsity and business take their toll but I now find myself unwilling to forgive flaws in gaming.
I am still obnoxiously excited for games like Dishonored and BioShock Infinite, I am still waiting for a nice long weekend to replay the Witcher 2, I just think I’m fine not playing anything until then. This puts me in an odd position. Have I really become such a casual gamer? Only a few choice games and franchises and the rest can piss off? I think I have. I still follow gaming news religiously, I watch trailers, read articles and follow rumours. I’m just not interested in investing time and money into anything less than the best.
Maybe it’s Olympic fever, maybe after seeing it, I crave only excellence and all else is bland by comparison. I want gold and not silver.
Maybe I’m just a casual gamer then, maybe I’ve just progressed to a point where gaming has taken a backseat. But that’s not right either. Gaming is near and dear to my heart. I love the gaming industry like it’s a part of me. Indeed, many magnificent gaming experiences have shaped my view on the world. I can’t be lumped in with Farmville toting, Instagram whoring wannabe, hipster, normal people. I won’t accept it.
Beat me in an argument on the intricacies of game design and storytelling and I’ll hand over my gun and badge without a word. Until then, I claim the right to be a causal hardcore gamer. A connoisseur. I play games for the same reason I read books and watch films, for the magnificence of the human mind. Story, character, world, universe and imagination.
I want to experience BioShock’s floating cities and Dishonored’s nimble stealth. I am excited and curious about Far Cry 3 and Borderlands 2 and Tomb Raider. If they’re great and if their creators were careful, I will explore every corner of their worlds and every aspect of their conception.
I feel some version of this each year in the months of release drought. Each year I’ve renounced gaming and each year during the release storm, old habits return. Not this time though. I do feel more strongly and am sure with greater surety. Will I prove the truth of my conviction?
Like I said last time, only time will tell.