There is no hardcore

Loving this statement from lead producer Dustin Browder on how they’re polishing Starcraft II for accessibility.

“For us, there really isn’t a sharp division between casual and hardcore (players),” Browder said. “A casual could become a hardcore, if only we let them. I know so many grandmothers that play World of Warcraft – what the heck is that about? They’ve never played any other PC game in their lives but they have better raid gear than I do, by far. There’s a reason for that: The game gave them a fairly safe environment (with) pretty, nice graphics, and good, solid gameplay. So if we can provide a game that is just as good, people will find it and play it.”

The whole interview is here.

This is part of what makes Blizzard so good at what they do: a fundamental understanding that there is no “casual” and “hardcore”, there are just games that have fucked up difficulty ramps, and ones that have effective hooks into well-balanced ramps. The players that some developers have a tendency to dismiss as “casual” are in actuality more discerning about how they spend their time — they’ll do hardcore investment, but you have to give them a damn good reason.

MMOs and user metrics are giving us a new way to look at “casual” and “hardcore” because we’re seeing that “casual” players spend just as much time and often more money playing their “casual” games. What this means is that a “casual” player will spend serious “hardcore” time and money when given a sufficient — and often social — context for doing so. Putting up with obnoxious mechanics that casual players will shun should not be considered accolade-worthy, and efforts like Blizzard’s to relentlessly increase engagement and accessibility are showing us what happens when you design with full thoughtfulness.

More concepts I wish we could get rid of I am reminded of in Damion Schubert’s interesting recent blog post responding to a video “rant” I haven’t yet watched. More thoughts on this later, but my trinity of terms to get rid of at the moment is: “casual”, “virtual”, and “fun”.

Chew on that, if you so desire…

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