Are MMO Bloggers Hardcore?

A tech-y looking pen on a cord.

Random Battle is a blog about MMOs and game development written by an editor from Ten Ton Hammer, a network of MMO community sites. So it’s a good source for keeping an eye on the MMO community meta-community, if you will.

Recently, Random Battle posted a thought-provoking article about how to make community sites more relevant to bloggers. What really caught my eye about this post, however, was this partial line:

Given that bloggers are a relatively small, hardcore, vocal subset of gamers …

Now, I’ll give you that bloggers are a small subset of gamers at this point, and by definition they are vocal. But the term ‘hardcore’ really jumped out at me here.

On the one hand, anyone who is invested enough in their game to blog about it on a regular basis is .. well, pretty darned invested. But on the other hand, I spend a decent amount of time reading World of Warcraft hunter blogs (it’s one of my weaknesses), and I’d have to say that at least half of the blogs I follow are not in any way traditionally hardcore. They don’t raid. They don’t PvP. They don’t power game. They don’t even have level-capped characters, some of them. But man, do they blog.

There’s the guy who spends his time writing complex mods to record game data … the Ruby programmer who plays once a week or so but faithfully reports on his progress in between coding tips … the husband-and-wife team that likes to make real-world food out of in-game recipes … the retired Air Force major who delights in mentoring younger players … the housewife with the arm-length list of alts. And a whole mess of roleplayers, most of whom (thankfully) don’t write strictly in character.

The term ‘hardcore’ fails us when we try to use it as both a measure of investment and as a description of playing habits. There are hordes of players out there who are invested, dedicated, even obsessed … and who play these games in search of an experience that defies our simplistic expectations. So let’s just drop the ‘hardcore’, okay? As a definition, it’s not doing us any favors.

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6 Responses to Are MMO Bloggers Hardcore?

  1. Azaroth says:

    Neither is the image of the hardcore player conjured up in the mind of a nongamer.

    True hardcore players are often the least interesting, anyway. How much rep you grinded or how far you are in Black Temple just isn’t as interesting to me as a site where a husband and wife team make food using in game recipes. THAT’S entertainment.

    As long as nobody is in character.

  2. Grimwell says:

    I think that the term ‘hardcore’ has shifted from defining the people at the top end of a game to include anyone who invests a significant amount of time in their game. So the guy who plays for 8 hours, and spends 30 more hours each week programming mods is hardcore, just a different flavor.

    As the MMO community grows more and more, our definitions that worked in the pioneer days must also grow and change to reflect the community of today and not the community of yesterday. The number of people who have played the original ‘Big Three’ (UO, EQ, AC) has fallen to that of the minority. Most people don’t have that context, and don’t care what we once decided our terminology upon. This is their day and the terms change with them.

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  5. Babs says:

    I think the word fits. It means “unswervingly committed.” I’d rather be called hardcore than, say, obsessed =P

    But even if we prefer that a blogger be “prolific,” the word is entrenched in our gaming lexicon. It’s not about proper grammar as much as it’s about relating to a vocabulary that includes “pwned,” “pker,” and “wtfbbbkkthxbai.”

    Heh.

  6. Sandra says:

    Shoot. Because of Grimwell and Cameron I now have three places to respond instead of one! Heh. I’ll address your comment here, Grimwell, and your post on your own blog since there’s some difference in content.

    Grimwell, you say that the definition of hardcore has shifted to mean someone who invests a significant amount of time. Babs, you say it means ‘unswervingly committed’. Even between you two, who seem to be agreeing with each other, there is a difference in definition: You don’t need to invest a significant amount of time to be committed. You can easily be in a committed mindset but practically limited in your playtime. For example, there’s the blogger I mentioned who plays once or twice a week but blogs about it in great detail, religiously. He’s very committed to his play experience *and* his blogging, but his tiem investment is low.

    So you’ve proved my point: that even among a fairly homogenous population of game developers we have rather different expectations of what a hardcore player is like — and those different expectations limit the usefulness of the word as a simplistic basis for design decisions.

    This isn’t about what the cool kids are saying. It’s not even about the shortcut terms that modern players use to describe themselves. It’s about how we, developers and designers, approach the behaviors and needs of our audience.