Posted by: seanmalstrom | January 23, 2014

Email: Being a hardcore gamer is sort like being a drug addict

As someone who has distanced themselves from the hardcore in recent years, when I look at their behaviors namely on message forums, the more I think for many of the hardcore, their gaming life is almost akin to being a drug addict constantly looking for the next high and rarely ever being truly satisfied.  I noticed a pattern. A new game gets revealed usually in a teaser that shows no actual gameplay, the hardcore gamer gets excited and spends each day checking the gaming sites for the latest news, clinging to the tiniest rumor or speculation, posting on the forums about what it’s going to be. Then they hear about some pre-order bonus or early beta and foam at the mouth, the rush out to the midnight launch, possibly ditching work or school, play the game for several hours straight. Then when they’re done, they rush to whatever game site they’re on, post stuff on forums and write their review and the high is gone unless the game actually had any lasting value or a good multiplayer which is rarely.  Then the cycle starts again with them looking for their next high.  And mind you, that’s the ones they actually bother to finish.  I know so many hardcore gamers who have stacks and stacks of games they’ve barely played but bought on impulse because of some sale as well as tons on their computer from Steam Sales.  I have a hardcore gamer friend, who downloaded all free PS+ games even if he had no intention of playing them simply because they were free and he couldn’t understand why I didn’t do the same.
Most serious hardcore gamers I knew, were so obsessed because they were either unfulfilled or depressed. Did you see the episode of Big Bang Theory where Penny was depressed with her life and started playing Age of Conan and got addicted to it because it made her forget her crummy life of being a waitress and a failed actress.  A lot of hardcore gamers are the same.  Whether they’re a kid who’s unpopular at school or someone in their 30s with no career prospects who’s still living at home. These are the types who use games to escape just as many drug addicts get high to escape.  I remember the Wii’s success early on and hardcore gamers being terrified that casual games like Wii Sports would take over the market and that all hardcore games would go away.  To hear some talk, it was like a new great depression or the end of the world. As if the end of “hardcore” games would lead them to commit suicide.  It would be like if the cannabis plant went extinct and all the stoners freaked out.  For many hardcores, their life revolved around video games.  They dreamed of being game developers, testers or reviewers and usually ended up working at Gamestop if they can even keep a job.
Also hardcore gamers like drug addicts, blow all their money on their habit, even if they clearly can’t afford it.  Many live at home claiming they can’t afford their own place, yet go out and buy new consoles at launch, buy games at $60, pay for multiple online subscriptions.  They can’t afford their own rent but can spent $500 on an Xbox One.  And as with new games, they get an even bigger high off getting a new console at launch. Sure the PS4 and Xbox One have no compelling software at launch, but it’s new and makes me feel important.  A lot likes folks who buy the new Iphone on day one.
But most of all, just like having an intervention with a drug addict, if you approach a hardcore gamer and tell them they might have a problem, they become hostile, and claim they don’t have a problem and what they chose to do with their money and life is none of your business.  They don’t have a problem and can stop whenever they feel like it.  Now not all hardcore gamers are that way, the more someone has interests, friends, prospects outside of games, the better they are.  Gaming is a hobby, not a lifestyle choice so when I heard gamers refer to the “gaming lifestyle” I’m a little disturbed.  There’s no book reading or movie watching “lifestyle.”
But those hate mails you get, those often sound like the hardcores who are addicted and you attacked their delusions. “3D Mario is way better than 2D! How dare you!” “Zelda’s always been about puzzles!!” “Nintendo games need more cut scenes and story like Other M!!” “The Game Industry revolves around US!!”  Like you I wanted to see the Wii destroy the game industry or at the least was hoping Sony and MS implemented all their DRM/anti used game policies, watch the industry implode if only to watch the hardcore gamers’ world be shattered and then maybe the reality would set in and they pick themselves up and go live actual lives.
Also I love the hate mail entries you post. They’re hilarious. You should have a special category devoted “hate mail.”

Every hardcore gamer has one common trait: they never deny themselves a ‘unique’ gaming experience. They don’t say, “Well, maybe that is a good game, but I will buy it one day years from now when I’m not so busy.” This is how they end up with hundreds of games they don’t play.

Note how when I suggested people could not buy or play the new Zelda 3DS for six months to a year because if the game is good, it will still be good then bristled them. Not engage in the hype? Not join the Message Forum Party? No, they won’t be denied.

Imagine a food eater who will eat any food that is ‘different’ because the person thinks it would be incomprehensible to miss out. Most hardcore gamers were kids who loved games but were denied due to money, time, or something else and are ‘making up for it’. They vow never to miss out on a ‘unique gaming experience’ again.


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