I, for one, do not count myself among that group. However, it seems like more and more of the people around me are taking up that moniker. People who have never touched an Xbox controller in their lives puff up like a peacock at any opportunity to mention their Angry Birds accomplishments. At some point, the general public became convinced that staying home to bowl on their Wii on rainy weekends or solving puzzles on a handheld during their morning bus ride was sufficient to earn them a place alongside the accomplishments of anyone who called themselves a gamer.
I have no room to judge them; my own most significant accomplishment was beating the original Spyro untold years ago. However, the inveterate community who seem to somehow log more than 24 hours on Call of Duty or World of Warcraft in any given day have proclaimed that the line needs to be drawn and at some point. These ‘soft’ or ‘recreational’ gamers need to be cut off from the herd.
The most common practice for doing this is to set a bar somewhere above smartphone games and below whatever it is that you play. First person shooter (FPS) gamers competing online in Call of Duty claim their successes against other real people clearly make them superior to someone who plays on their computer and spends all their time on individual or cooperative quests. Computer gamers, in turn, will claim that the palace they’ve constructed in Minecraft or the cape they’ve earned in Runescape (for some reason, these long pieces of fabric often require quite a bit of work to obtain) mark them out significantly above their console RPG brethren exploring puny finite worlds. In turn, these supposedly ‘lesser’ RPG gamers will look down upon the mindless hordes shooting each other in Call of Duty without anything resembling the elaborate story that they follow. This cycle will eventually come back around no matter where it starts and those who’ve tried their hand at all of them are forced to admit that the class rivalries are just that, rivalries without much in the way of actual superiority, though they might still be quite fond of that fire cape.
In spite of their differences, PS3, Xbox 360, and computer gamers mostly agree that handheld gaming, smartphones, and the Nintendo Wii are just not the same. Despite its apparent inadequacies as a platform for hardcore or serious gamers (which are somewhat understandable now that Sony and Microsoft have developed motion-sensing technology attached to hardware that’s actually advanced from the GameCube era) it has a stranglehold on Nintendo-exclusive games, and a fan can hold their head high while picking up the Wiimote to play Legend of Zelda or Smash Brothers.
However, buying a GameCube-style controller to fill in as much as possible is critically approved. Some exceptions are made for handheld gaming as well, but Brain Age and cooking games are going to be a pretty tough sell to hardcore gamers. You can always point out that you’re not a smartphone gamer, and if you are a smart phone gamer…then I’m sorry.
Recreational gamers can still be proud of their gold stars in Angry Birds and their handheld successes. After all the basic concept of honing their skills in increasing difficult challenges for symbolic rewards and further opportunities within the game remains the same whether they’re unlocking a treasure level or a nuclear warhead kill streak. Nevertheless, be prepared for the hardcore gaming crowd to frown upon tapping phone screens or anything akin to running a real life business as in Sims. A fancy new sword is more valuable than food or clothing…like a cape. Okay, so maybe the hierarchy of gaming isn’t based upon the most infallible of reasoning.
What I find most interesting, though, are the purists within smartphone gaming. There are those who admittedly insist that the concept of Angry Birds is deliberately ripped off from a game called Crush the Castle and scorn anyone playing the inferior knock-off. Instead, most of these self-proclaimed gamers play Siege Hero, a similar game released by the creators of Crush the Castle. Some go further, sticking to Crush the Castle itself and its recent sequel on the grounds that it’s more technical launching process makes it more of a ‘real game.’ The idea of smartphone gamers drawing the line of who’s in and who’s out seems a little bit hypocritical to me, but everyone has to take some kind of a stand, I suppose.
I could continue, but Spyro keeps looking back at me with one eyebrow raised from the TV screen, so I should probably go chase Gnasty Gnorc around that last level one more time.