To the outside world, gamers must seem like a uniform bunch: people who play games fit conveniently under one umbrella as gamers. However, this couldn’t be farther from the truth! If only it were so easy to categorize gamers, but we are a diverse bunch of individuals. I can prove this, by laying out the 6 different types of gamers. Now, this list doesn’t necessarily mean that one gamer can’t fit into other categories; they more often than not blend in a unique continuum or gradient of gaming fun. Here we go!
The Hardcore Gamer
This is the ultimate gamer. This type of gamer takes no prisoners, including themselves. One night I was playing Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 with my friend John. He was a hardcore gamer, spending hours on hours trying to reach all prestige levels and dominate the game. He would become involved in the game; he got angry at others and would learn the multiplayer maps in-depth so he could take advantage of all of the most beneficial spots. As the night went on, I got tired and retired for the night. I, on the other hand, was not very invested in Call of Duty. For me, it was just a fun diversion with friends. The next morning, I texted John to see how his night of improving his kill to death ratio went. ‘I never went to bed,’ he replied. I was shocked. I mean, I am not a stranger to staying up late playing games, but this was almost too much to comprehend. Not every hardcore gamer is like my friend John, but when I think ‘hardcore’, I think someone who is heavily invested in besting the game, no matter the challenge or consequence.
Some more well-known hardcore gamers would be professional players found in the eSports league. These gamers train nearly every day, attempting to beat other players in their chosen games, as well as their high scores and personal bests. Being a hardcore gamer can be extremely profitable s well, if you can prove yourself and make it to the top of the heap. For example, the recent winnings of Fornite alone in Esports was a pool of nearly $15 million. Even split between the winning team, this money is nothing to put your nose up at. However, the downside to hardcore gaming regarding Esports is that you invest much of your time and life into playing the game of choice. If you are okay with that, then go for it!
The Casual Gamer
Okay, so I know that there may be somewhat of a negative connotation concerning the term ‘casual. Indeed, I have had it hurled at me as an insult in some online games like Call of Duty and Dark Souls. The latter specifically regarding my low dexterity. ‘Get Gud, casual’ was the refrain. However, casual gamers make up a huge portion of the gaming population. Those who play for the story of a game, who go at their own leisurely pace are gamers that take in the scenery as much as they can, making it into a full-blown atmospheric experience. Casual gamers need not necessarily be ‘rookies’ or ‘noobs’, but rather have an attitude that the outcome of the game is not the main reason they play games.
Perhaps when picturing a casual gamer, you think of someone playing sudoku or completing crossword puzzles. Not so! A casual gamer can be someone who merely plays on a lower difficulty than others. Where the hardcore gamer plays The Witcher III on the highest difficulty, attempting to 100% complete the game, the casual gamer spends time collecting herbs, slaying the occasional beast in their way, and experience the rich open world and amazing storyline. To the hardcore gamer who threw insults of ‘casual’ my way: you’re right I am! I don’t feel shame anymore in picking the lower difficulties in games, so I don’t get frustrated and get to experience some great story-driven games. Single-player RPGs are my specialty, and experiencing the world for hours should be fun, not difficult and frustrating.
The Mobile Gamer
Again, preconceived notions of mobile gamers conjure images of peoples’ mothers playing Bejeweled Diner Dash, and Tetris. Are we going to trash talk Tetris? Not on my watch. While that can certainly be true, the mobile gaming market rakes in billions of dollars. It’s a great, evolving market within gaming that impresses year after year. Recently, Stardew Valley was released for mobile. This is a pretty in-depth game that is jam-packed with content; basically, the polar opposite of Bejeweled. I have played some great, addicting games on mobile, and can recognize the amazing potential these platforms have. I dare you to download Piffle and not get instantly hooked on its tight, impressive gameplay. In it, you must break blocks using a limited number of projectiles. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, there are plenty of levels, and they can get pretty unrelenting. The thing that should be emphasized is that many of these great little gems you can download are sometimes completely free of charge. Think of Word with Friends by the cellphone gaming giant Zynga. I was hooked to the digital Scrabble variant for YEARS. People eventually stopped playing with me because I would keep sending them reminders, then promptly destroying them through my meticulous placing of letters. Some mobile games have given me some great gaming memories, and that’s what makes them memorable and a category all their own.
The Online Gamer
We all know the online gamer. Someone who plays games like World of Warcraft or Overwatch for hours. These gamers take pride in their gaming expertise, often taking their skills to the rest of the world through the forms of player versus environment and player versus player gaming modes. My friend Chris was an avid Dark Age of Camelot player back in the early 2000s. He was dedicated to a fault; he had multiple characters leveled nearly to the level cap. He knew all the game mechanics and ins and outs of the different servers. He didn’t need to use a map anymore since he knew the terrain of the virtual world as his surroundings. It is easy to categorize Chris as a hardcore gamer as well. RuneScape is another great example of a game that fostered the online gamer. RuneScape offered a free, comprehensive, yet casual online gaming RPG experience. Online gamers love to enter a gaming world populated by other players, either combating them or teaming up to defeat an insanely difficult boss that they wouldn’t be able to defeat on their own.
The observer is a gamer who loves to watch others play games. This is a storied tradition for anyone who had older siblings or friends that were perfect at gaming. I remember watching my friend play Resident Evil 3: Nemesis because I knew that I would be way too scared to play myself. This has become an explosive phenomenon as of late. Streaming games on platforms like Twitch and YouTube has become a commonplace aspect of the internet. I love to settle in with some dinner, get comfortable, and watch someone play a great, story-driven game. This allows gamers and watchers to see the games that they might be interested in getting. This is the perfect chance to see aspects of the games and judge for yourself if you want it.
The Armchair General
These gamers are burgeoning strategists and players who dream of glory. Games like those in the Total War franchise, Europa Universalis, Civilization, and Crusader Kings II are the bread and butter of the Armchair General. These players blaze trails through the global stage, attempting to use their guile, cunning, intelligence, and military might shape the face of the world they inhabit. I remember learning how to play Crusader Kings II on my own. It was challenging, but once I got the hang of it, I dominated the medieval European continent as the impressive, fearsome empire of Sweden, led by an elderly emperor with a penchant for cruelty and torture. Armchair generals can thrive on the personal narratives they create through their gameplay. They may also be history buffs, like many strategy games on the market either deal with historic elements or entirely take place in specific historical periods. For example, the classic real-time strategy game, Age of Empires II, is based entirely during the medieval period, having you command historical heroes like Joan of Arc and William Wallace.
Now, armchair generals can also extend to more casual games like Cities: Skylines. They need not necessarily be obsessed with grand strategy, but it is the dominant genre.
So ends the categorization of gamers. Again, just because one gamer falls into one category doesn’t mean they can’t belong to others as well. For me, I’m a casual observing mobile armchair general. A mouthful, surely, but I can be categorized as nearly all of them. The most important questions through all of this are: which type of gamer are you? Are you the hardcore type; those that 100% complete a game, beating every aspect and mastering game mechanics? Or are you more like a casual mobile gamer who relishes in playing Words with Friends over a few days? Take a look for yourself!