What Is a “Hardcore” Gamer?

Since the dawn of video games in the 70’s, there has been a separation of people who play them that are considered by many to be “hardcore” or “casual” gamers. In the first couple decades of video games, someone who was considered “hardcore” typically played much of the now-classic titles like Pac-Man, Tetris, Donkey Kong, Centipede, and the other arcade games of their time. In today’s world, however, the environment is quite different. Today, many people who spend much of their time playing Call of Duty or Halo in their lives consider themselves a “hardcore gamer”. Which leads many people inside and outside this mixed-up label to wonder: just what exactly is a hardcore gamer?

When most people think of “hardcore” games today, they think mostly of Rated M first-person shooters, with loads of gore and violence. If a game like Donkey Kong was released in today’s world, it probably would be ignored by much of today’s gaming population. What I’d like to know is why an E rated game such as New Super Mario Bros. Wii or Super Mario Galaxy can’t be hardcore to today’s average gamer. Sure, they’re much more happy and colorful (avoiding the more commonly used derogatory term in there, by the way) than the darkness of war and death in other titles. Still, I personally believe they can be considered hardcore. According to the Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, the definition of the word hardcore is “a militant or fiercely loyal faction”. In other words, anyone who plays video games with dedication is, by definition, a “hardcore gamer”. Does this mean my grandmother is a hardcore gamer because she spends 3 hours a day playing Wii Sports? Not necessarily. I don’t play too many M rated titles, yet I still consider myself a core gamer. Many of my favorite games are published by companies like Nintendo or Capcom, who aren’t typically known for making excessively violent or gory titles. Yet, I can still be a hardcore gamer, as I play games like those with dedication. To the 360 and PS3 fanboys who believe that you aren’t a gamer if you play Nintendo: you have no idea what a true gamer is. If the only game that you ever play is Modern Warfare 2 or Halo 3 multiplayer, just to be able curse at each person who kills you like an immature 12-year-old (which there are many of, by the way), I don’t consider you hardcore. You have to have a passion for games, not just play the same one over and over while very often ruining the experience for others by acting the way many of you do.

In summary, I think many people need to have a more open-minded view about what they consider to be “hardcore games” and “hardcore gamers”. Just because someone doesn’t play that many “BOOM, HEADSHOT!” games doesn’t mean they aren’t hardcore too. If you really like video games, keep up with gaming news, and actually treat them like a great entertainment medium, I truly believe that you should be, and are, considered a true hardcore gamer. Also, I’ve got no problem with you playing FPS’s obsessively. Just don’t mock the others that don’t.

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  • Gern

    A hardcore gamer is one who plays video games about 6 out of 7 days a week and it is their primary hobby. Meaning they spend more leisure time playing video games that doing anything else, like watching TV, or playing golf, etc..

    • 6 or 7 times a week? I think even 3 or 4 is enough, as long as they’re extremely passionate about it. Also, you don’t have to make video games your primary media form to be considered “hardcore”, in my opinion. It just has to be somewhere up there.

  • Dennis

    Personally I believe anyone who has a deep interest in video games is probably a hardcore gamer. If you have a subscription to gamefly and regularly get new games, you’re pretty hardcore.

    Hardcore does not represent skill level, or actual hours spent playing. Since many people have responsibilities that prevent them from playing non-stop, it is fair to say that there can be no time constraints when determining a true fan of gaming.

    I’m only able to spend a few hours of the week gaming, though I use to spend much more in my younger days, and I still consider myself one of the most core gamers I know.

    Like it was said before, I agree the being hardcore is a reference to dedication and love for the experience. True hardcore gamers have a wide range of experience when it comes to gaming genres.

  • aba

    I don’t think companies simply split their consumer base as “hardcore” or “casual”.

    • NRX

      Actually, they do.

      This whole Hardcore vs. Casual thing is basically marketing strategies. It’s an attempt to grab a good %50 of gamers by claiming something is hardcore, or casual. It also demotes others consoles games, by labelling them Casual. And sadly, a huge amount of people in the gaming community buy right into this vague labelling system causing mass amount of butthurt and console wars.
      Companies will label their product hardcore(Microsofts Kinect) in an attempt to grasp the large amount of “hardcore gamers” who only play “hardcore games.” The whole “mature games for mature gamers” thing also applies, and companies also promote that M rated games are generally “Hardcore.”

      It’s beyond retarded to even try to separate the millions of gamers into two separate, and opposite groups. Try summing up the human race into two different groups, or the canine species; it’s hard if not impossible, and isn’t very helpful or accurate is it? There was a time when games were grouped by their genre, but these all seem to be funnelling into the much more logical, and detailed system of grouping, hardcore and casual.

      Back in the day of arcade machines, nobody actually used these terms because it was less about making money, and more about pure enjoyment. Too bad publishers and large companies are grabbing every foothold in this industry, and basically raping it for profit. Even Bobby Kotick himself stated that he would like to “run games into the ground to get the most money out of them.” Say goodbye to original, and unique games, and greet the exciting new world of “monotonous shooter number 57”

  • i have played css for almost 600houers in 3 yeares and got 4 wow 80’s
    i paly all the flach games and bfbc2 got cata the day it came out
    i pwnds in almost all of the games i play
    does that make me a hard core gamer?

  • I really like this article. I’ve heard too many people go on about how hardcore gamers MUST play X, Y and preferably Z, and then thought “hang on, aren’t those the games I play casually?”. And then Pokémon or games like Dynasty Warriors get derided as being “casual games”, but Pokémon was and always has been hardcore if you look at the amount of hours and effort players of it put into it despite the seemingly simple and well-known goal set of the game, and Dynasty Warriors (actually, more the spin offs, I personally find the core Dynasty Warriors series a bit lacking in depth) games tend to have amazing depth – if you bother doing anything other than spamming square/x or playing on easy 😉

    It’s become a really deceptive subjective term thanks to the large online multiplayer communities of games like CoD and Halo, who I think occasionally need reminding there’s a world outside of their games (I did at one point anyway, and it did me good I hope :P)

  • Sirdavies

    You are so right.