Back when Digitiser was on Teletext, we coined the terms "hardcore" and "casual" to describe the extremes of the gamer spectrum. Yes: I'm actually going to take credit for that. It's not exactly "One small step for man", but I'll allow myself a certain degree of pride.
Still. Somewhat inevitably, Digi's audience - at least the section of it that felt passionate enough to write in - was drawn from the hardcore end. Consequently, "casual" became a term of derision or abuse. And that was never the intention.
I mean, I see myself somewhere slap-bang in the middle on that graph. I'm not great at playing games - I can't handle Dark Souls 3 or Bloodborne, and I'm hopeless at playing online. I probably never finished a single game in my teens; once the going got tough, my attention span was drawn elsewhere. Yet I still love games, and realise I'm better at them than most of the people I know in the real world.
But regardless, I can't wrap my head around those who look down on others who aren't as good at games as they are. Or who might not be as into games as they are. Or who have nothing more important going on in their lives than writing YouTube comments making fun of someone who isn't as good as they are at a particular video game.
Well done. Being good at games, eh. You must be so proud of your valuable life skill.
Case in point: currently generating howls of laughter amid the hardcore community is a video the website Polygon posted showing the first 30 minutes of the new Doom.
For whatever reason, I've noticed Polygon tend to get a fair bit of stick. I'm not familiar enough with the site or its history to understand why, but on most of the occasions I've seen the usual suspects laying into them on social media, I've ended up scratching my head.
Here are some of the comments generated by the site's Doom vid:
- "Pretty unfair that Polygon made whoever played Doom to do it with their toes. I mean, assume that's the case."
- "That Polygon Doom video... It must've been that guys first game."
- "That DOOM footage from Polygon reminds me of a kid who would refuse to get into a game just for the sake of it."
- "Watching this attempt at playing the game is physically painful."
- "How can somebody be so bad? They spent most of the time staring/shooting at the floor."
- "Are you 80 years old or 5 years old? Because if you're anything in between then I cannot believe my eyes. I bet that all the negative changes in DOOM were just so guys like you can get past the first level. Jesus."
- "I understand some people are better than others but this video gave me cancer it's so bad. please tell me this was someone with a severe mental disability because I can't accept that someone could suck this much."
- "Jesus, who was playing this? Banana hands."
- "Go outside, go to your car, go the trunk and open it. Get your trunk monkey and have him play it instead cause whoever is playing needs to go read the manual on the controls cause he or she seems to have be having more difficulty than they should."
The comments got so bad on YouTube, that they had to disable them.
Given the mockery, I had to watch the video myself. And... er... well... sorry about this, but that's sort of how I play games. I told you: I'm not great. At best I'm average, or slightly above average. But I'm so not great that I can't even see what's wrong with that Doom video. Here it is so you can judge for yourself:
You see that hardcore elitism writ large across the games industry. That sense of entitlement and "I'm better than you". Whether it's sneering at a YouTube video, or people thinking that their cultural ideology is better than another ideology or cause, or some wholly unimportant debate about why a particular game should or shouldn't have a difficulty mode... it's a horribly toxic us-and-them, closed door mentality.
Obviously it's not limited to gaming, but it does seem particularly bad among gamers. Perhaps that's because the things that the hardcore get so uppity about seem to me so utterly pointless.
Man plays video game worse than you'd play it. Consequence: Hahahahaa! What an idiot! He doesn't deserve to have a job making gameplay videos!
And yet... it doesn't matter! It really doesn't. There will probably be millions of people around the world playing Doom this weekend, and I'd wager that the majority will play it like Polygon's cack-handed casual. I know I will. I'm dreading having to go online with it, because I know that arena tends to be dominated by hardcores, and I'm going to find it a frustrating struggle.
Ultimately, being a casual gamer is nothing to be embarrassed by. Being so-so at Doom is nothing to be embarrassed by. Thinking you're superior to other people because you're good at games...? Take a look in the mirror. You're a disgrace.
I take pride in the fact I'm merely average at games. There are plenty of professional games journalists out there who I dare say would wipe the floor with me at any number of games... but I dare say I could beat them in an... I dunno... procrastination competition.
Digitiser2000 exists to give a voice to the voiceless. To the games-loving cack-handers like me. Semi-casual and proud.