Hardcore

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Hardcore Gamers and Hard-Nosed Gaming

‘Hardcore’ gamers often separate themselves from other gamers because they play for more than just completion, or the standard definition of ‘fun’. Dark Souls may be a tough-as-nails RPG, but some players have completed it never levelling up, or naked (the character, not the player), or with only shields as weapons. The most popular levels on Super Mario Maker are usually the hardest, with players like PangaeaPanga making diabolical levels like Skyzo and Bomb Voyage (youtube them!). Pretty much any single-player game can become highly competitive once you decide to play it ‘hardcore’, especially if you want to speedrun it.

The charity speedrunning event Awesome Games Done Quick for instance, in progress at the time of writing, is a showcase of the hardest of hardcore gamers. The entertainment those runners provide, also including races between runners and gimmicky events like ‘2 Players 1 Controller’ for Dark Souls II and blindfolded runs of Super Punch Out!!, is a powerful force for fundraising. The last event of this kind, Summer Games Done Quick in 2015, raised $1,215,601.49 for Doctors Without Borders.

This article would explore the benefits of playing ‘hardcore’ in consideration of the above and other aspects such as, potentially, the impacts of challenging yourself with video games using research on the psychology/sociology of the issue. Why is hardcore gaming popular, to watch and to do yourself? What does it take to be a speedrunner, to spend weeks or months playing the same game daily before you beat your last Personal Best? How can this relate to the science and psychology behind competitive sports in general, and are hardcore gamers really playing with or against each other?

For balance, however, some drawbacks should also be considered. The general focus of the article could be on how the risk/reward system of game design extends into how one chooses to play games in the first place. If research however outweigh the positives of such gaming, the article could suggest that hardcore gaming, while ‘hard-nosed’, may be harmful to the gamer when pushed too far. The subject can be taken in many, many more ways.

  • When I read this I thought of the Nuzlocke challenge in the Pokemon games where people impose upon themselves restrictions of number of pokemon to be caught, where they may be caught and that they are considered dead and to be released should they faint etc. Pokemon is not a hard game and is highly forgiving so it's interesting that people adhering to the challenge want to heighten the difficulty. – Slaidey 6 years ago
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  • Perhaps completionists could be talked about here? For the record, completionsists aren't just people who beat the whole game, but who get all of the Achievements (Xbox) or Trophies (PlayStation). There could be some interesting psychology behind the idea of Achievements too, and how your worth as a gamer can be measured by your Gamerscore. – ericg 6 years ago
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  • Competitive game communities could be talked about as well. In the smash bros (particularly melee) community, there is often drama and legitimate hate between the players, but also many of the top players have found their best friends through it. Also, there's the idea of what part of a game is lost when you play it 'hardcore,' as well as what parts you discover. It seems like it often changes the way we play them. – Null 6 years ago
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  • I instantly thought of Super Smash Bros. Melee as well, and its growing competitive scene. Personally, it's the only game I've learned to play on a competitive level. What I like about it is the range of options for the player. You don't have to play competitively if you don't want to. The game is still just as fun for a casual, party style multiplayer experience. If anything, in addition to joining a community, competitive play opens up entirely new ways to play the game that even the developers may not have considered (ex. wave-dashing in Melee as a major aspect of the competitive scene). – Filippo 6 years ago
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  • I suggest reading Alasdair MacIntyre and his thoughts on intrinsic/extrinsic motivation. – Rael64 6 years ago
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