Chris Kohler has an excellent article explaining his understanding of types of gamers and what this means for the ‘console war’:
Before blue oceans and innovators’ dilemmas, the “casual gamer” was the guy who played Xbox but wasn’t a game nerd. He’ll play Halo with his buddies for hours. But the new definition of “casual gamer” is your grandma. She loves “Cooking Mama.” Tyler B thinks she is ruining gaming.
These are two very distinct groups. Add them to the other two types of game console buyer and you’ve got four groups who are all affected very differently by fluctuations in price and hardware power.
Kohler then details the characteristics of each type of gamer: the Hardcore Gamer, the Casual Gamer, the Expanded Audience, and Kids. It’s well worth a read.
Meanwhile, there was a hilarious rant/whinge by Tyler Bleszinski, who is only important in this context because he’s Cliffy “Gears of War” Bleszinski’s brother, last week on Newsweek’s Level Up blog. In this article, CliffyB’s brother whines about how the Wii will present a “direct threat” to his hobby if grandmothers and other people who are traditionally non-gamers keep buying Wiis:
If Nintendo has its way, young males will no longer be the dominant segment of the console audience–and this transition appears to be happening faster than I expected.
Oh noes! Sound the alarm bells! A young male is threatened by the prospect of developers no longer creating games just for him! I would like to think that this would be some sort of epiphany for CliffyB’s brother, a moment realisation of what the non-target segements of the market experience as a reality today, but he seems to be too interested in his ‘dominant’ gaming needs to pay attention.
So while the business of the Wii has great for Nintendo–surprise, surprise–and a handful of risk-takers like Ubisoft, it’s thus far been ugly when it comes to the experiences beloved by core gamers like myself.
CliffyB’s brother is displaying a rather arrogant sense of entitlement. Would you like some cheese with your whine, oh brother of CliffyB?
And should the product portfolios of major publishers become a zero-sum game, her tastes will represent a direct threat to my longtime hobby.
I sincerely believe that bringing new people to video games is a good thing… But ultimately, going more mainstream can have unintended consequences–ones that could negatively impact the breadth and depth of the kinds of games that I love, as do millions of others.
Translation: “New gamers are only a ‘good thing’ if they like don’t encroach on my territory by demanding that game developers make games other than what I, as part of the ‘dominant’, ‘hardcore’ gaming demographic, enjoy”.
I believe games are already mainstream. Games started to become mainstream ever since Sony cracked that segment with the PlayStation, and it’s been widening ever since. If one looks at the definition of ‘hardcore’ and ‘casual’ in terms of the way Kohler outlined, we can see that CliffyB’s brother probably falls into the Hardcore Gamer category. The gamers that CliffyB’s brother is so afraid of are the Expanded Audience. The Casual Gamers are the frat boys and average Joes who don’t read industry news or blogs religiously, but they buy all the Grand Theft Auto games when they come out — these are the guys that CliffyB’s brother would probably lump into the Hardcore Gamer category. This Casual Gamer segment won’t go away, and I don’t think that the Wii and the Expanded Audience is as much of a threat as TylerB thinks it is. It may be too soon to say, anyway, as Kohler concludes.