What is a Hardcore Gamer? [Gaming Definition, Meaning]

Obsessed with Xenogears, Pong, or Street Fighter? Have you spent most of your childhood at a TV screen rather than playing outside with your friends? Are you forty years old but still treasure Super Mario more than your married life? Then, you are probably a hardcore gamer, but what exactly “hardcore gamer” mean? In layman’s terms, “hardcore gamer” is a word used to refer to a person who is fond of videogames and could spend hours and hours on them without never getting tired of it. Indeed, different from a casual or a midcore gamer, for a hardcore player, gaming represents more than just a hobby. The lifestyle of “hardcore gamer” is similar to a badge, a title, a sort of a “social status” for frequenters of online communities who have achieved many results out of one or multiple games.

Of course, being a label of prestige, the “hardcore gamer” label isn’t that simple to achieve; a gamer has to dedicate himself or herself to mastering his/her gaming skills in order to be recognized as one by an online community, which has its own strict rules that can’t be ignored. There are many “traits” you need to show in order to be a real hardcore gamer because there isn’t just one way to be one. Which type of hardcore gamer you are depends on many factors, such as time spent clearing a level, accuracy, awards, and the type of consoles you prefer to use despite there were created so many and in whatever flavor you choose.

Not only in real life, but also in Japanese anime’s world it works the same way, and examining them could be helpful to those who are interested in understanding more about a hardcore gamer’s life. So let’s try to see which traits identify a real hardcore gamer together.

Life is Too Short to Waste It Playing Outside

The first trait that represents you as a hardcore player is the amount of time you spend on your console anytime you feel like playing. Basically, if you are a hardcore player you feel like it almost every second of your life, so the time you dedicate to games probably varies between the 30% to 60% of your day – excluding the time when you are sleeping… if you don’t suffer from insomnia as many hardcore gamers do, of course! In fact, a real hardcore gamer could play video games until the crack of dawn when particularly focused on a mission or strategizing on how to defeat particularly strong enemies.

It isn’t by chance if the classical image of a hardcore gamer is someone who is a shut-in that lives in the darkness of their room, has a poor hygiene, and has very questionable social skills. Well, probably the largest part of these are just stereotypes, but there is still a core of truth in them. Indeed, in Japanese animation, hardcore gamers are often associated with the word “hikikomori” which refers to reclusive people who withdraw from social life to live their lives like hermits inside their houses. The amount of time they can spend on games is pretty impressive, as in the case of Tomoko Kuroki from the popular anime Watamote, which is one of the best examples of hikikomori hardcore player.

Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui!/ No Matter How I Look At It, It's You Guys’ Fault I'm Not Popular!

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: Jul. 2013 – Sep. 2013

It is finally time to start a new life in high school for the game-addicted otaku Tomoko Kuroki who is extremely self-confident in her social skills and capability to make boys fall at her feet. She has practiced for this day for over 50 years with more than 100 otome games, so she really feels ready to conquer her first year in high school. However, Tomoko seems to be a little less prepared than she thought; Tomoko is, in fact, a very shy, introverted, and kind of creepy girl, but the only one who doesn’t seem to realize it is her own self. Helped by her lovely brother Tomoki and by her best friend Yuu Naruse, will Tomoko be able to get her moment of glory in high school as she has always dreamt about?

The definition of “hardcore gamer” is perfect for a character like Tomoko Kuroki who has played more than 100 games despite being still so young. 50 simulated high school lives of playing in just 15 years is pretty impressive and it is unlikely for Tomoko to have spent much time playing outside with her peers before entering high school. The black circles under her eyes confirm that hypothesis, as well as her complete impaired fashion sense and her lack of experience in communicating with everyone but her own family. However, poor Tomoko is really willing to change her life; the only problem, is that she spends most of her time strategizing on how becoming popular more than actually take action! Worthy of a real hardcore gamer, there is no doubt about that.

WATAMOTE ~ No Matter How I Look At It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular! Promo


Game but Not Lame

The second trait that shows you are a hardcore gamer is the fact you couldn’t care less about the graphics of a videogame; if a game is worthy enough to be played, it doesn’t need to look like a greatly detailed 3D movie. What really matters for a hardcore gamer is the quality of the title, the positive critical reception, and an enjoyable gameplay, which is actually the most important requisite for a game to be considered “good”. Sound, characters, and even the plot don’t really count that much for a hardcore player, but it is rather the ability of the game to keep you hooked on it that is extremely important.

From this perspective, it is not that difficult to understand the reason why hardcore gamers are mostly keen on traditional games for PC and traditional consoles – namely those kinds of games which can only be played indoors. Indeed, hardcore gamers aren’t interested in mobile games almost at all, since they are mainly conceived for people to kill time while waiting for the bus or transfer from and to their workplace. If a game can be only played in fragmented time, without personal involvement, it is unworthy of your time, most of all for the reason that lies behind its creation. Concentration, gaming skills, and freedom from time constraints are all elements which are indispensable to a gamer for being hardcore, and no one better than Yoshitsune from Air Gear can represent this kind of retrogamer-addicted kind of hardcore player.

Air Gear

  • Episodes: 24
  • Aired: Apr. 2006 – Sep. 2006

The professional at punching arcade gamer Itsuki Minami – Ikki for friends – is involved in a brawl with an adversary school, but thanks to his companions’ help, he is able to defeat them. However, the beaten party promises to send a team of storm riders to take revenge, so the next day a street gang called Skull Saders makes Ikki regret what he and his friends have done. Defeated and mortified, Ikki gets back home where he accidentally finds a pair of Air Treck (AT), motorized roller blades belonging to the Sleeping Forest riders gang. Also Ikki’s sisters are, in fact, members of a team which uses AT, so Ikki’s destiny to become a rider himself had already been decided…

Like Ikki, many other characters in Air Gear are obsessed with video games, but Yoshitsune is certainly the most skilled. Leader of the Kansai Storm Rider team, Yoshitsune is a brilliant strategist like any self-respecting gamer and has an addiction to retro games with no special features, but that requires a fair amount of concentration skills and manual abilities. In particular, his favorite one is Tetris; he could let it run indefinitely without never losing!


Don’t Touch My Beloved Trophies

The third trait you are a hardcore gamer is the results you were able to achieve while playing. Indeed, when graphics, plot, and sounds don’t count. What makes a game fun is the amount of challenge involved, and the skill and effort used to deal with it; one more rank or trophy gained after a hard-winning victory is what every hardcore gamer could ever dream for and is a badge of great honor. Winning many trophies or awards can, in fact, help to increase the reputation of a player in a virtual community of people who played the same games, or even make the player a legend.

Gaming tastes, awards, gaming skills are all elements which relates to a hardcore gamer’s identity. Basically, for a hardcore gamer, gaming is not only a simple pastime, but a real “job” to put the maximum effort into in order to advance in their “career” as much as possible. In the gaming community, achievement is an actual status symbol that denotes the amount of power and fame reached by a person to the point that s/he can become idolized or even feared, sometimes. This is the case of Keima Katsuragi from Kami Nomi Zo Shiru Sekai.

Kami Nomi Zo Shiru Sekai/The World God Only Knows

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: Oct. 2010 – Dec. 2010

Keima Katsuragi is the main character of the famous anime Kami Nomi Zo Shiru Sekai, but he’s also a legendary online hardcore gamer. Known by his fellow players as the legendary “God of Conquest”, Keima is a genius of games in the dating sim genre, having successfully won the heart of 10000 in-game heroines. However, in real life Keima is just another unpopular otaku disliked by all his classmates. At least, until he receives an e-mail in which someone challenges him to conquer a girl. Keima accepts, but he still doesn’t know what is going to happen. A young female demon appears after Keima accepts the challenge and informs him he will have to conquer as many girls as possible in the real life. The penalty to retire from the game is death, so Keima has no other chance but to play.

What more can be said but Keima is the emblem of the “hardcore gamer” category? Hated by his real companions, idolized by his online friends who are as least as much of an otaku as he is, Keima has all the pieces needed to be qualified for the title. Keima’s gaming skills are surprising since he is also able to play to multiple different game at the same time, and he was even able to master an impossible mission no one could clear before him. Furthermore, Keima has an online journal he updates every time he completes a game for proudly showing to the world what he has accomplished until now.

The World God Only Knows - Official Trailer


Final Thoughts

So, did you recognize yourself in one of the three traits? Are you a real hardcore gamer or are you still trying to get all the secrets to become one? Being a hardcore gamer requires time and a certain amount of skill, but probably the secret ingredient is to have a great passion for videogames.

If you feel like belonging to this category or want to add more, let us a comment on the section below!

Dareka Nobody

Writer

Author: Dareka Nobody

I’m an Italian dirty little girl obsessed with Japanese language, culture, literature, anime, manga, games, but also with writing, reading, and travelling, in general. I lived in Japan and I’m about to be moving there forever. When I’m not working, I translate yaoi light novels for a hobby. I’ve recently started a partnership with the website Novelleleggere.org where I publish my works. I run a page on Facebook about my translation and I’m also a blogger who likes to write about her experiences in Japan. Akiba addicted and enthusiastic Honeyfeed’s writer!

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