Today's word of the day* is HARD-CORE. Let us begin with the formal definition provided by

hard-core [hahrd-kawr, -kohr]

1. unswervingly committed; uncompromising; dedicated: a hard-core segregationist.

2. pruriently explicit; graphically depicted: hard-core pornography.

being so without apparent change or remedy; chronic: hard-core inflation.

Most gamers will know immediately what I mean by hard-core. I consider myself to be a hard-core gamer. I am dedicated to gaming and the gaming culture. I am uncompromising in my videogame consumption. I have to play. I go through withdrawals if I don't. Am I addicted? Hell yes. But I'm not the only one.

Gamers have been serious about their gaming habits since the beginning, starting with Pong and continuing to the MMO games of today. Spending hours a day in front of the TV or computer monitor, sacrificing a life outside in the real world, is something that hard-core gamers are willing to do in order to finish that level, or gain a few more experience points for their character. Not all gamers have that dedication though. And that brings me to the subject of this post.

In the beginning was hard-core and all was good. Then something happened. Games for people that didn't like games started showing up. The Mom that didn't really understand games started to play. My own Mother loved -and still loves- Ms. Pac-man. She didn't play all the time, nor did she even feel a need to finish a game or get very far. Then came the birth of mini-games. These are small games with little to no story and very simple controls. Soon, there were games released that were only collections of mini-games with a simple story to tie them together. Select a game, play for a few minutes, then leave without any thoughts of completing it or returning to it. We have a name for these people. They are the Casual Gamer.

Being a casual gamer is not a bad thing, but bad things tend to happen to the casual gamer. Oftentimes a game that just isn't good enough or too short to be a good gaming experience is marketed to the casual gamer. These games are very basic and frequently frustrating to play. The reason. The developers and publishers are looking to make a quick buck. Slap Mario or Sonic on a crappy game and chances are you'll make your money back off of it. We are seeing more and more titles that are just plain bad and a lot of those are on the Wii.

Is there anything the casual gamer can do to ensure they get a quality game, and not a cheap poorly designed product? First, do not buy a game just because it's cheap. Little Timmy might like that cheap game about dinosaurs, but not if his dinosaur dies every 5 seconds due to bad controls. Second, do a little research. There are plenty of gaming websites online and many magazines that will help sort out the crud from the gold. Granted, a lot of these sources are geared to the hard-core or mainstream gamer, but it is still presented in a way that most people will understand. Third, if you've done your research and have become familiar with the companies putting out games it'll be easier to find a quality product. Don't buy a game from the XYZ Fly-by-night game publisher. They are just out for the quick buck and their games are generally very basic and not worth any cost. Fourth, don't buy a game just because it's sold well. You very we may find a shovelware game that has squeaked past quality control.

The Wii is not the only console to suffer this blight of poor quality games. They are everywhere from the PS2 to the DS to the Xbox 360 and even cellphones. No system is safe from these shotty shovelware games. They are called shovelware due to the fact that the publisher will just shovel it out onto the market no matter the quality. With a little knowledge, you can prevent yourself from being taken advantage of. Look for first party software, being games that are published by the console manufacturer. Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo all put out quality games. Buzz is a quiz game that is very popular right now, and is available for most systems. Ask your friends what they play and play together. Have fun with games, but be careful what you buy.

*Disclaimer: In using the phrase "word of the day" I am not stating that I will, in fact, write about a word every day. It just sounded better than "word of the week" or "word of the whenever the hell I feel like writing about a word".


2 responses to "Word Of The Day, Volume 2"

  1. Michelle (artscapes) On January 20, 2008 at 9:42 PM

    There are some people I know considering doing a fund raiser to get a Wii into a seniors home... :) Love the pic..

    As for the games... My husband travels and only has time to play on weekends. Nothing is more annoying than buying him a game he can finish in two weekends. Is he hard core? Well - in order to play undisturbed, he'll sit in the RV (it's -18C at the moment) with a space heater and play until he freezes... Does that qualify??

  2. GlossGreen On January 23, 2008 at 9:02 AM

    He just may be hard-core. Playing without regard to personal health is definitely a sign.