Casual, hardcore and everything in between

Although I don’t watch every year, I sat through Microsoft’s Xbox briefing at last month’s E3 event. The potential for news about Fable 4 lured me in but I was sadly disappointed. Instead of hearing about the next instalment in the series, what we got was a bunch of CGI trailers, numerous mentions about Game Pass and an unexpected appearance from Keanu Reeves.

As I wrote in my post, the expo doesn’t really appeal to me because it feels as though it doesn’t cater for where I fall in the audience. I’m not what companies would call a ‘hardcore’ gamer because I don’t care about the specifications of upcoming hardware – I just want my consoles to run the games I’d like to play. But I don’t necessarily come under their ‘casual’ classification either, because I play video games four or five times a week and they’re my main form of entertainment.

Rezzed, video games, gaming, expo, Impact Winter, Kim

So what does that make me? An article by Joanna Nelius published on the PC Gamer website might just have the answer. This described the findings of research conducted by Newzoo, a global provider of games and eSports analytics: segmenting gamers the same way we did 15 years ago no longer paints an accurate picture. Things like Twitch, and hardware and peripheral ownership have all changed the market drastically and it’s no longer as black-and-white as calling someone casual or hardcore.

The company spent the last year developing its ‘Gamer Segmentation’ from scratch and this covers ‘all aspects of consumer engagement with video games: playing, viewing, and owning’. The result is eight modern personas that traditional segmentation doesn’t cover and each one is broken down further by statistics such as age distribution and living situation. The Conventional Player of yesteryear is now the least common and makes up only 4% of all gamers; while the Time Filler is the most common at 27%.

I took a simplified version of the survey used in Newzoo’s research and the outcome was pretty accurate. The All-Round Enthusiast isn’t as dedicated as the Ultimate Gamer but still plays for many hours and considers their hobby to be ‘serious business’; and they enjoy a holistic experience achieved through playing, viewing online content and owning dedicated gaming hardware. The only thing I didn’t agree with was that the profile enjoys watching movies – I’d much rather get stuck into a game!

I got my other-half to complete the Gamer Persona Quiz too but his results were not what I expected. He’s very into technology and specifications, and loves nothing more than having an excuse to purchase new equipment so I thought he’d be classified as a Hardware Enthusiast: someone who keeps up with the latest trends and whose love of gadgets typically extends beyond gaming. But no, it turns out he’s an All-Round Enthusiast also.

So what does this mean for us? Well, I can see two positive outcomes coming from the research. For gamers, it finally puts to bed the outdated discussion about what it takes to be a true member of the community; and for those who previously would have been embarrassed to call themselves gamers, it shows there’s no shame in doing so because you’re not alone. The new segmentations show there are a whole host of ways to interact with our hobby nowadays and each of them is valid.

Have you taken Newzoo’s quiz? If so, were the results accurate and what do you think of the new classifications? And hello to all the other All-Round Enthusiasts out there!

I don’t like Destiny 2 (and that’s ok)

Destiny 2 was released back in September and, as you may have seen from my tweets over the past couple of months, I’ve lost several friends and family members to it. My other-half and Ben have been meeting up online at least once a week to play it together, which means I have to relinquish control of the PlayStation 4 and give up valuable The Elder Scrolls Online time.

They’re not alone: Activision hasn’t yet revealed how many copies of the game have been sold but it’s fairly obvious to say it was ‘a lot’. Over 50,000 units of the PS version were shifted within the first week alone in Japan and it took the number one spot in the UK sales chart. Although it has been criticised by some gamers as being ‘more like Destiny 1.5 than a sequel’, critics have been positive and the title holds a score of 85 on the Metacritic website.

Alastair Stevenson from TrustedReviews called it a ‘must-by’ because of its stellar single-player campaign, excellent combat and class mechanics, and enjoyable cooperative multiplayer. Kallie Plagge from GameSpot claims it has ‘a much stronger foundation’ and is a ‘significant improvement over the original’. And Alex Hern from The Guardian said ‘shooting aliens in the head feels good in this game, and when you start receiving exotic weapons in the latter half, it feels even better.’

Ben and my other-half echo their sentiments. When I asked them to explain why Destiny 2 is so awesome, they said: “It makes you feel like you’re progressing whether you’ve played for 30 minutes or three hours. The shooting is top-notch – guns feel ‘right’, there’s a good level of variety in them and the impact on enemies is spot-on. And it’s great with mates.”

But me? I just don’t get it.

The boys bought the game as soon as it had been released and after hearing them rave about it for over a week, Pete decided he’d teach me how to play. I’m not great at first-person shooters (FPS) and was worried the experience would potentially end in tears; however, he was so excited about the possibility of bringing me into this world that I couldn’t say no. It was therefore with some trepidation that I picked up the controller one evening but it wasn’t as bad as I’d feared.

Saying that though, I put it straight back down again an hour later. I couldn’t understand what they found so entertaining about Destiny 2: to me the action felt repetitive and the story didn’t come across as anything particularly special. The most fun I had during those 60 minutes was creating my character (she had extremely cool hair), although it seemed strange that she was completely silent.

I’ve written before that I don’t really enjoy FPS titles or multiplayers because of their potential to inspire extreme competitiveness, and there are some players who take winning incredibly seriously. Adult responsibilities mean I don’t have enough time to improve my skills to an adequate level to be able to compete; and I don’t want to spend the little free hours I do have being slated by my teammates for not being good enough.

This wasn’t the reason for me not enjoying Destiny 2 though because I didn’t experience anything like that – I just simply didn’t like it. I guess in some people’s minds that would make me one of those ‘filthy casuals’. You know, those horrible people who call themselves gamers but aren’t interested in the latest hardcore release or queuing up for it outside a GAME store in the rain at midnight.

Would I refer to myself using that term? No: I play a range of video games as often as my schedule allows; I write about my gaming experiences on a blog; and I’ve attended six expos so far this year, even volunteering at a couple of them. Would I refer to anybody using such a term? No: we’re all purely ‘gamers’ regardless of whether we choose to play the newest shooter, a retro point-and-click or a quick mobile game on our daily commute.

Sticking a tag on someone suggests they’re somehow in the wrong for playing the games they like or in the way they do. That’s totally ridiculous: there are so many wonderful things going on in the world of gaming today and there are new experiences to suit everyone. Wouldn’t it be silly for us to not take advantage of that?

Destiny 2, video game, ship, space, fight. Ikora Rey

As I’ve said before, a title receiving high-ratings from critics doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone should buy it, will enjoy it, or will see it through to the end. As long as we’re open to new experiences and give them a decent chance when they come along, there shouldn’t be any guilt felt at putting them down in something else more fulfilling of our spare time.

So there, I’ve said it: I don’t like Destiny 2. And you know what? That’s absolutely fine.