The Definition of Hard Core

I got this idea from an article I just read. How Hardcore a game is determined by how Hardcore the average/median player is.

Meaning, if you pick a random or average gamer who plays said game, how serious he is about that game? How often do they play and how badly will they take it if the game changes or someone make light of playing it?

So, in my opinion, if you take an average Candy Crush, Angry Birds or maybe even Clash of Clans player and ask them those questions, you’ll probably get a player who plays once or twice a day for a few minutes while they have time to kill and if you change their game or break it they’ll probably shrug their shoulders and move onto the next one. Of course, there are outliers who take the game very seriously but they are the minority.

Then, if you take a game like League of Legends, Counterstrike, StarCraft or even Hearhstone, the average player is more likely to take their game very seriously, play for many hours every week and they take every change to the rules very seriously. They are rabid fans. So we call these games hardcore.

I know, not all people would consider Hearhstone hardcore and I actually think it might be split down the middle, which is what makes it more interesting.

Posted in Gaming, Less Interesting News, Philosophy, Thinking Out Loud by with 4 comments.


  • yaron says:

    Based on wikipedia hardcore mode started out being equieted mostly with permadeath in games
    hardcore was a way of referencing harder choices that have stronger penalties

    in short a game was not naturally “hardcore”, it was a choice so players prove mastery

    based on this I would say that hardcore should depend on how difficult it is to “master” a game, in such a way that the game also allows you to demonstrate mastery.
    In short hardcore is an optional setting.

    Thus poker is hardcore(as poker “can” be hardcore), despite randomality of the cards and relatively easy understanding of game states.
    Tic Tac Toe is not a hardcore game.

    candy crush, hearthstone and similar are hardcore, as is magika, but the HOG “hidden world” is not hardcore, it might be difficult to someone unexperienced, but there is no true ‘mastery’ of the game – only compleation

    in short – I believe that for a game to be hardcore it must have mechanics that depend on improvable skills, and that allow the mastering of the skill to be demonstrated in the game

    • Eran says:

      Then, what about game that allow Mastery, or the demonstration of superiour skill and/or perseverance, but it is not the core of their game.

      I would argue that while Candy Crush allows that (“I’ve completed all the levels with no money invested in a month!”), most of its play is not about that. Even if you give me someone who cleared all the levels, I wouldn’t be that impressed with that information alone.

      I find it even hard to call Magicka hardcore as the game can be played, and I’m sure is quite commonly played, by mostly roaming through it and mashing elements at enemies. Sure, you can manipulate elements and magicks perfectly — which is why I will call Wizard Wars hardcore — but that is not necessary and is not the core of the original game.

      Hearthstone, I would claim, is mostly dominated by hardcore players. Sure, there are probably a lot of casuals who come, try to play a nice card game and then probably exhaust it with in a month. Most consistent players play it for the great rewards in the arena or to try and reach legendary levels, which require very serious play.

      • yaron says:

        I never said that hardcore was at the core of the game, merely that it was an optional setting for the game to show true mastery

        in candy crush i would argue that completing the game without money is the proof of mastery, regardless of time span

        true you could just be insainly lucky but i think there are enough levels that it diminishes that option

        and yes, magicka allows for mastery to be demonstrated, arenas are a prime example of this, true you can use your fancy mouse with the macro button preclicked, but i say someone who can go far in an areana, especially one like the one that limits element use can show mastery in that

        or you play magicka in one sitting without dying – that would be hardcore, a demenstration of skill and mastery

        • Eran says:

          My point is that ‘Hardcore’ games are defined by this kind of play while casual games in which this is a remote option if it’s present at all.