Obviously, I consider myself a gamer I wouldn't be writing for this website if I didn't but defining myself any more specifically than that poses a problem. I'm certainly much more than a casual gamer, playing rounds of Angry Birds on my iPod riding the train to work (I have to confess I don't actually like Angry Birds that much...). But I'm not what you would typically call a hardcore gamer, racking up hours and hours of multiplayer in Halo or finishing Super Mario Galaxy with 100% completion. So if I'm not hardcore, what does that make me?
I know I'm dating myself, but I started gaming as a wee lad when my dad brought home a Pong game from a garage sale that we hooked up to a small black-and-white TV (Dad wasn't about to waste a color set with a silly toy like that!). I used to like baby-sitting for one particular family in the neighborhood as a young teen because they had an Atari 2600 I could play once the kids were asleep. I also played with my little brother's NES at the time, but it wasn't until college that I really got into videogames. I purchased my first console, the SEGA Genesis, and it's been nothing but fun ever since.
Starting with the PlayStation generation, which was the first time I actually had the disposable income to spend, I've owned every console that the major companies have put out. Well, minus the SEGA Saturn. But I had the PS1, PS2 and PS3, the SEGA Dreamcast, the Xbox and Xbox 360, and the N64, GameCube and Wii. Not to mention every iteration of the Game Boy and DS and the PSP. (Heck, multiples of each sometimes with all the variations and upgrades Nintendo released!) But I still wouldn't consider myself a hardcore gamer.
There are people who will buy a game and try to finish it as soon as possible, I guess for the bragging rights of being the first of their friends to see the ending. I've never understood that mentality, both because I don't have that kind of free time and also because if I'm going to drop $50-$60 on a game, I want to get my money's worth. Then there are those who get more than their money's worth by playing through games multiple times and so meticulously in order to get all the Achievements/Trophies or just the satisfaction of 100% completion or each of the alternate endings. That's not me, either. It's actually kind of annoying, because I get so OCD when playing games that I have to pick up every little collectible, but I knew as soon as I saw my first thermos in Alan Wake that by the time I get to the ending, I will have probably 90-95 of the 100 scattered throughout the game. It's like in BioShock, where I was only missing one of the tape reels, and furious to check a FAQ and find out it was way back in the very beginning in the one area you could no longer reach. So I do collect, but knowing full well that I won't have all of whatever they are by the end of the game !51; and knowing that I'm never going to play through it another time just to try again.
I also don't spend hours online playing shooters or MMOs with my friends. Sure, the occasional session of Rock Band might pop up, and I might have guests in my Animal Crossing town, but multiplayer has never really interested me. Not sure why. Maybe because when I started playing games, I had no one to play with, and they were something I enjoyed so much by myself that when the industry took a more social turn, I never really made that same transition. The single-player experience is so much more satisfying to me. Maybe that's why I liked Morrowind so much, because it's an MMORPG without the MO.
I don't really know how to categorize hardcore gamers. Casual is easy. Those are the people who just play Scrabble or Angry Birds on their phone. They might have a Game Boy, or even a Wii. I feel like Nintendo got a lot of casual gamers to play more because many of them bought Wiis to play Wii Sports and Just Dance. (Like lots of people owned Game Boys for Tetris.) But casual gamers don't play every day (well, except maybe for Angry Birds addicts!). They'll play occasionally, but it's not something they look forward to or make time in their day for. Hardcore is trickier, though. Some people play games to the detriment of everything else in their lives, like food, socializing and general health and cleanliness. That's not hardcore, that's just sad. But there are those who play games instead of watching movies or TV shows as a leisure activity. I have a day job, and when I come home at night, I have to work on this site and cook dinner, and then I like to watch a little TV. I can usually squeeze in an hour or so of gaming, but not much more than that, because I have to get up early the next day to start the vicious cycle all over again. How many hours do you need to put in before you're considered hardcore?
So I really like games, but I still wouldn't consider myself hardcore. I like many different genres, from action-adventure to RPG to music, but I don't play them all the time, and I don't consider myself particularly skilled at them. I'll probably never get all the Achievements in a game. (Okay, it technically did happen once, but that was King Kong, and I only rented it because I heard that it was super-easy to get all the Achievements.) Many games I don't even finish because I lose interest part of the way through or it just gets too difficult to continue with my meager skills. But I'm certainly more than a casual gamer playing games on a cell phone on the train/bus. Maybe we need a new classification? Something in between casual and hardcore? But not softcore, because that sounds creepy. Amateur, maybe? How would you classify this type of gamer? And how do you classify yourself?