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The Middle Ground of Gaming

Gaming PCI’ve long felt that I didn’t fit into either of the two main categories of video gamer. In my game design class we often talk about games being ‘casual’ or ‘hardcore’, which also describes types of gamers.

Hardcore gamers tend to spend a lot of time playing games, and they would probably identify video games as their primary form of entertainment. They play lots of different games, but probably with a tendency towards major titles. They look forward to new releases and will often do ‘all nighters’. Hardcore gamers tend to own consoles or gaming PCs.

Casual gamers are those that enjoy games as a minor former of entertainment. They don’t spend lots of time on games, and don’t go out of their way to make gaming part of their lives. They are more likely to play social games, web-based games, or games on a handheld device.

I don’t feel I fit into either of these categories. I would never wait in a queue at midnight to get the latest game. I rarely buy new games. I have played games into the wee small hours, but haven’t done so for many years. I spend a fair bit of time playing games of different genres and sometimes, but rarely,  neglect other parts of my life so I can play games. I think that there are many people in this category, perhaps like me – they grew up with video games and were probably ‘hardcore’ in their youth, but as responsibility and adult life took over they’ve drifted into another category of gamer that can’t quite be categorised as ‘casual’.

There’s definitely a some middle ground, and that might be classed as ‘Mid-core’, as recently described in the article What the hell does ‘mid-core’ mean anyway? on Gamasutra. I particularly like Tony Goodman’s succinct descriptions of casual, mid-core and hardcore.

  1. Hardcore arranges their schedules around their gaming.
  2. Mid-core arranges their gaming around their daily schedule.
  3. Casual entertains self with games when time presents itself.

Tony Goodman, co-founder, Ensemble Studios

Since hearing about this new category of gamer I’ve been looking at other related articles, including this one on Newzoo that seems to identify Mid-core as a target audience (useful for marketing types) made up of about 5 to 7% of the total gaming market. Back in November, this article on the stock market site Trefis asked whether Zynga (maker of Facebook games) could target the mid-core market and improve their profits. Pocketgamer also investigated this new ‘strange beast‘.

So, are these really new beasts or have they evolved from other categories of gamer? I’ve already suggested that I was formerly hardcore, but have drifted into mid-core due to work and family commitments taking over. Perhaps some casual gamers are also becoming more demanding and desiring newer, more complex games and are evolving into mid-core gamers too. In which case, it’s not an increasing market for games, just a change in demands from an existing audience. The technology changes in the gaming industry very quickly, so shouldn’t we expect the gamers to change too?

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