Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling reports from the front lines* of the Massively Multiplayer Multiverse.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

On "The Decline of Hardcore"

My friend River, of High Latency Life, wrote a guest post on Syp's Bio Break about how he worries that there aren't any more hardcore gamers in MMOs. Hopefully mine will be up later this week. This is my response.

You know happened to all the hardcore gamers? They grew up and got adult responsibilities. This is not a rant, just an observation. Hardcore gamers are like "hardcore" high school athletes. You could extend that to college athletes, too, I suppose. When you're young, with little responsibility other than getting through school, you have plenty of time to play games. Maybe you're involved in football, or band, or tabletop roleplaying, or maybe even first person shooters or MMORPGs. Heck, maybe you smoke a lot of weed.(Don't do drugs, kids.)
Only a few very lucky people get to continue that utter devotion into adulthood, after they graduate from high school or college. Maybe they become professional athletes or musicians or gamers. That's hardcore. The rest of us get "real" jobs that restrict us to one degree or another from simply doing what we like. We get a significant other that, more likely than not, does not share our enthusiasm for our hobby. We might have kids or ill parents that demand our attention. There isn't time enough in the day.

We're lucky to get a few hours in the evening to relax and play our games. We may get bored with the same old games, and move on to new ones, forever trying to reclaim that feeling we had when we were young and playing hardcore with our friends.

But our friends have grown up, too. If they haven't or we haven't, then we probably grow apart as our interests and responsibilities evolve.

I was in the Army for about four years, and then was lucky to get a job where I knew a lot of the people from my tour of duty. However, the further I get from my time of service, the fewer new people in the office are friends I knew. That doesn't mean that people aren't enlisting and then getting out when their tours are done. I am simply ever more removed from that time myself.
I am sure there are just as many hardcore gamers out there as before, River. You are just no longer moving in those circles, and neither are your friends. There is also the dilution aspect. There may be just as many hardcore players. But as the genre becomes ever more mainstream, they become ever less prominent in the sea of casual gamers who only need a few hours of relaxation after work is over and the kids have gone to bed.

12 comments:

  1. /agree

    I will say that I wonder if there are any hardcore *games* left anymore, at least in the MMO segment. And I think there are, you just have to head East to find them.

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    1. EVE.

      Which may be east of you, but not in the manner you meant.

      Also hardcore != grind.

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  2. Gamers that were teens when MMOs hit the mainstream with WoW are now young adults. Life has a way of changing significantly in those years. It does make me wonder what the MMO market will be in the future sometimes. Sure, there are replacement gamer teens, but they have choices like never before with the F2P revolution, indie games and all those pesky casual cell phone games.

    Tangentially, I wonder what effect the economy at large is having. Highish unemployment (especially for new college grads) and inflation change gaming habits, too.

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    1. Very true. I've also heard that the majority of curent subscribers to WoW are in China, so the audience is changing demographically. A game like TSW simply won't fly in China because of some cultural taboos. Blizzard had to reskin several creatures to market WoW there.

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  3. Yep, gamers are just "growing up", getting jobs, having families, having their free time cut by more responsibilities. I think the last time I was able to "hardcore game" was in college living in a dorm, those weeks after exams where I feel I can go all night. No way I can do that kind of schedule again now. It's only been a few years since then, but I already feel older and sleepier, LOL.

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    1. I was married with a child through much of college, so while I might have played, it wouldn't have been hardcore even then. I could stay up much later back then though. My baby girl was 11 before I was really introduced to WoW. Now she's 17.

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  4. My post was more of a lament, or observation. I don't think the hardcore MMO'ers are gone, not by a long shot, I just think their are less of them. Me, and my 40 man raid team, raided MC/BWL 6 days a week in WoW, most guilds raid 2/3 days a week with 25 man. Just simple math.

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    1. That is possible, but I know a lot of guilds have several raids on farm.

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  5. All very, very true. As an (attempting to) up-and-coming professional, I'm super lucky to get in two or three hours of gaming a night, some of the days of the week.

    That said, I wonder if River is on to something, too. I mean, I absolutely love SWTOR -- but its Operations require nowhere near the number of players that WoW's raids do... or more accurately, did. I also wonder if this is just a function of a game not being WoW -- that there's some sort of critical mass required to even think about requiring so many players be in one place at the same time.

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    1. I don't know where the original magic number 40 came from, EQ? The number of players required for a raid in WoW has actaully decreased as subscribership was rising. I never participated in a 40-man raid like the original Naxxramas, but I had a good friend that did (he quit the day TBC launched). According to him, much of the 20+ hour per week he spent "raiding" was actually waiting around for people to get their act together. In other words long periods of time going back to town to repair or replenish supplies, etc. His experience may have been atypical, but even when I raided at the end TBC and WotLK, there was a lot of standing around.

      Relatively few people raided in Vanilla WoW, partly because it WAS very hard to consistently get 40 people together, so I suppose those people were more hardcore than current raid groups. Easing the organizational requirements for raiding in later expansions and games probably means they are less hardcore, but that is also a reflection of the changing player population and the demands of the subscribership.

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    2. Those are all really good points! Maybe MMOs have simply gotten smarter about what they require out of players, and what gamers have gotten smarter about how they spend their time.

      I wanted to additionally add that this was a great piece to read through, and the comments have been top-notch. Always a pleasure.

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    3. Thank you very much for the kind words. :)

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