Posted by: seanmalstrom | July 25, 2016

Hardcore vs Lost Souls

Since the Game Industry and gamers lack the patience to really dig into the business strategies and reactions of Generation 7 (the Wii Era), they have reduced everything down to a binary: casual or hardcore. Now, when making games, this binary is prominent in their minds. It was completely absent when they made the classic games we all love.

In Starcraft 2, the game was intentionally sped up to make ‘E-sports’ more interesting. Starcraft 2 became ‘APM Wars’ (actions per minute). The game died.

So the same director does the spin-off of Heroes of the Storm. The game was designed to be ‘simpler’ and ‘easier’ with shorter games, no items, no last hitting, and shared experience. Some of this worked such as shorter games and no last hitting. But the shared experience meant bad players would not realize they were bad. So the good players would tell them in the game that they were bad. Blizzard’s respond? Silence those players (which prevents them from playing ranked). While SC 2 had the exodus of the non esports players, HOTS has the exodus of the esports players. HOTS is played now by mostly older people and bloated men with families.

Now we have absurd things like Metroid Federation Force thinking shooting multiplayer is too ‘hardcore’ so they base it all around shooting a giant ball instead. Ridiculous!

The DS and Wii was not an ‘attack’ on the hardcore gaming if we define hardcore gaming as ‘skilled challenging gameplay’. Wii Sports and Wii Fit are not easy games to play, they simply required new gameplay skills that experienced gamers hadn’t utilized yet. In Iwata’s words, those games ‘put everyone at the same starting line’. Even Nintendo developers seem to misunderstand the success such as trying to ‘de-teeth’ the challenge from games to make them less hardcore and ‘casual friendly’, whatever that means.

There must be a differentiation between hardcore (challenging gameplay) and lost souls. What are lost souls? It is a term I am making up because we have no other term for it. I credit Yamauchi for first noticing it.

There are many people in the industry that know nothing about games. In particular, a large American company is trying to do engulf software houses with money, but I don’t believe that will go well. It looks like they’ll sell their game system next year, but we’ll see the answer to that the following year.

Yamauchi is referring to the Xbox Division, but I bolded the first line. Yamauchi has done more to define the game console business than anyone I can think of, aside from Nolan Bushnell. ‘Many people in the industry know nothing about games’. Just because you are a ‘gamer’ or in the ‘game industry’ doesn’t mean you know shit. This is the message from Yamauchi.

I have been saying this for some time, but customers are not interested in grand games with higher-quality graphics and sound and epic stories. Only people who do not know the videogame business would advocate the release of next-generation machines when people are not interested in cutting-edge technologies.

Yamauchi said this at the beginning of Generation 7. Idiots in the game industry think this is a ‘stupid thing to say’. But the DS and Wii, much less hardware capable than their competitors, came out ahead. The Gameboy easily beat out color competitors. Read Yamauchi’s quote again and think of Pokemon Go. Does Pokemon Go feature cutting edge technologies? Maps is not a new technology. No one is playing Pokemon Go for its graphics and sound.

[People who play RPGs are] “depressed gamers who like to sit alone in their dark rooms and play slow games.”

This quote is what I want to highlight. Yamauchi recognized these ‘lost souls’ even then.

Many so-called ‘hardcore’ gamers are actually ‘lost souls’. These ‘lost souls’ live in a fantasy world. It is these ‘lost souls’ who generate the stigma against gaming as outsiders see losers attracted to gaming.

A ‘lost soul’ is a broken person. A ‘lost soul’ is someone who plays video games to escape real life pain.

The best example is World of Warcraft. In World of Warcraft, you have quests and a clear line of achievement. Real life does not provide that clear line. Lost souls play video games not as gamers but as a type of therapy.

Back in the NES days, there were games designed to be ‘hard’ such as Metroid. Metroid’s commercial had the NES Advantage to show that this was meant for an experienced gamer. However, NES lacks ‘lost souls’ games. There are little to no comfort games on the NES. The Wii also lacks those ‘lost soul’ games. No one played Wii Sports to get away from people. To the contrary, the played it to be with people.

When I dig into the biographies of popular streamers, reviewers, and even game developers, I see many ‘Lost Souls’. They turn their time to gaming because of a broken life. Many gamers do not play because of the game, they play because of the therapy.

Game communities are made up by gamers. Remove the ‘bad gamers’, and the communities will thrive. So how do we create ‘good game communities’? Games such as the Blizzard games are great. What is terrible are the gamers that play them. WoW players make WoW a terrible a game. HOTS is a great game if it were not for the terrible players.

When you look at console gaming, console gaming was better before the Internet. Multiplayer meant local multiplayer. You played with friends, with real life attachments. With PC gaming, PC multiplayer was better before broadband, was better before Windows. Broken people could not get into the medium then.

In order for gaming to grow, it must become exclusionary to Lost Souls. Lost Souls need to get a job and get their life in order, not look for illusion of achievement and friendship through a virtual electronic experience. How to make it exclusionary to Lost Souls? Reduce the graphics and sound and other ‘virtual’ inducing effects and focus on the gameplay.

Wii and DS didn’t succeed because they attracted more ‘Lost Souls’, they succeeded because they excluded them. Those ‘Lost Souls’ found it hard to exist on the DS so they moved to PSP. The ‘Lost Souls’ on the home console found it hard to exist on the Wii so they moved to the Xbox 360 or PS3. However, the lack of ‘Lost Souls’ triggered market expansion… these the players who bolt when Lost Souls gamers appear. These type of gamers will play games like Pac-Man or Tetris, but they will not play ‘illusion of achievement’ type games (slow RPG type games which most games are today).

 


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