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Should we let Mario go?

Brad Gallaway's picture

Super Mario Galaxy Screenshot

While my son was taking a break from Monster Hunter Tri today, he went back to Super Mario Galaxy, a game he started last year but never finished. I sat beside him with a Wiimote of my own doing "collect the stars" duty while he put Mario through his paces, but it wasn't long before he began to struggle and hit some problems.

My kid is definitely no slouch at games, but he was having trouble maneuvering Mario with precision in some of the weird gravity worlds and a couple of the bosses were starting to aggravate him. It was a little surprising since this is the same kid who's seen more of Tri than most of the people who've reviewed it, but there you go. As I was trying to coach him through the rough patches, it suddenly occurred to me that I wasn't quite sure who Mario's target audience is anymore.

The game is bright and colorful, and makes its home on the Wii—by far the most kid-friendly console of the big three. I think it's pretty natural to assume that most kids who play more than just Wii Sports will probably play Mario at some point. Kids aside, the Wii is the console that has clearly been making the biggest push towards casual gamers. Wii Fit has sold like gangbusters, but it seems logical to assume that Nintendo would want to sell a few copies to casuals who might be inclined. With those two things in mind, the recent trend of Nintendo increasing the difficulty of their games seems to run counter to their strengths.

Although I haven't played either title yet, New Super Mario Brothers Wii was widely reported to be too difficult and cumbersome to play in the later levels, and Super Mario Galaxy 2 has also been tagged as being more difficult than the first, not necessarily in a good way. I find this interesting since in my mind, the only people who would theoretically want more difficulty are the old-school gamers or hard-core gamers who Nintendo's basically distanced themselves from over the last few years.

I've had a few people mention that Mario has traditionally been much more difficult in the past, and they are right. However, we are living (and playing) in different times. Back then, people weren't targeting demographics or strategically designing their games; they were just making the best games they could, and whoever could play them did. That's not the case anymore. We've got distinct genres, distinct age ranges, and even distinct consumer psychological profiles. To break it down in the most grossly generalized terms, kids need something approachable, casual console gamers don't appear to get into anything too deep, and the old-schoolers apparently dislike cakewalks.

How do you design a game that satisfies all three groups, straddling what appear to be completely opposite demands on each side? Is it even possible? Iconic status and uber-enviable Q-Score aside, I'm starting to wonder who Mario's really aimed at these days? Following that line of thought, I started to wonder what would really be lost if Nintendo had made Galaxy 2 easier and positioned it strictly for casuals and kids? Of course a certain segment of the gaming population would be up in arms if they were able to blow through the game in three days, but is that really so bad?

As a parent who supports videogames as a positive hobby for kids, it can be tough coming up with titles that are interesting, appropriate, and playable for children who don't have the knowledge and reflexes from a lifetime of experience. Looking at something like Mario which is so warm, friendly and appealing to such a wide variety of people and then seeing my son get frustrated and disappointed by the difficulty spikes, I can't help but wonder what would really be lost if Nintendo put all their eggs in one basket and proceeded on the path they've been on for the last few years. Sony and Microsoft definitely have the mature angles covered, and there are no shortage of titles that I can only play after my kids are in bed. Is it wrong to think that Nintendo letting the older players go and solely focusing on being a gateway to newcomers might actually be an acceptable thing?

I'm not sure that I've completely captured the spirit of this thought here on my blog, but I suppose it's a bit like books. Libraries need Dr. Seuss and Dick & Jane, but no one expects those books to challenge older readers or to satisfy everyone who might glance at the cover. Is it right to expect Mario to do so? If not, would the players who grew up with him be all right letting him belong to a new generation?

Category Tags
Platform(s): Wii   Nintendo DS  
Developer(s): Nintendo  
Key Creator(s): Shigeru Miyamoto  
Series: Super Mario  
Genre(s): Adventure/Explore  

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Not entirely sure on that.

As a kid, Mario--as well as some of my other games--had a certain grandeur to him because his games were hard. The first levels would always be doable, the next ones would be challenging, the next ones would be killer, and who knew what was beyond that?

Frustration in gaming comes when you have an expectation that you can beat something. As a kid, I never got frustrated with video games--something would game over me, and that was disappointing, but oh well. You were still playing a game, and there were still plenty of levels there for you to play if you wanted something easier.

(As I got better at games, I started to expect a certain level of performance from myself, and some of the joy seeped out whenever I wouldn't play as well as I could. I'm still fighting that today.)

Of course, kids don't need the same challenge as "hardcore" gamers do. For instance, I don't know if the classic Mega Man series would appeal to children today. However, I don't think there's any need to worry about Nintendo releasing games that kids can't complete. That's part of the allure--Nintendo draws you in with plenty of easy, fun levels. Then, when things ramp up, you'll get stuck, and you'll have to leave the game for a while. But imagine your satisfaction when you finally beat that boss or whatever!

That said, Super Mario Galaxy may be a bit on the hard side, and Super Mario Galaxy 2 is probably too difficult. For the record, though, Sunshine was a lot more frustrating than Galaxy. ;)

I'm not saying easy games make bad kids games, but I don't think it's necessary for Galaxy to be any easier than it already is.

Mario Galaxy 2 is not nearly

Mario Galaxy 2 is not nearly as difficult as alot of the reviews and feedback have suggested. There is alot to see and do, but to get the initial 120 stars, I would say that 3 were problematic at best. The boss levels were particularly disappointing and overall I would say that it was no more difficult than Galaxy 1.

As mentioned in your recent podcast aswell, Mario is the ultimate whore when it comes to appearing in lame sports titles and party games, so I believe that Mario already exists as a casual icon aswell as the old-school icon. In my opinion I think Nintendo can, and should, keep the mainstream Mario games orintated towards the old-school gamers and they can use the Mario sports (or in Mikes case, Mario Hockey, lol) and Mario Party games as the bridge between the casual gamers and the old-school gamers.

That's why there's two player mode...

Second player in the original Mario Galaxy was kind of a pointless inclusion, however in Galaxy 2 its a really useful parental tool. Second player can now kill enemies, collect lives/mushrooms, and hold platforms that normally disappear. If you were playing as second player you could help your son navigate the more difficult levels.

You stated "I started to wonder what would really be lost if Nintendo had made Galaxy 2 easier and positioned it strictly for casuals and kids?" I'm sorry, but I completely disagree with you. I don't want them to dumb-down Mario. I've been playing Super Mario World lately (on VC), and though I beat it when I was 10/11 years old; when I play it now it seems unforgiving and extremely frustrating. Neither of the Galaxy games have ANYTHING on World, III, or even Sunshine. How about we let Miyamoto decide how difficult Mario games should be, not the market demographics. This has been a tried and true method that has produced at least 5 classics.

Also on the subject of Mario's audience, I think I'm it. I'm 28, playing games since I was 6 years old, and the first game I played was Super Mario Bros. It was tough back when I was 6 and I learned how to play SMB through a little persistence. Maybe we shouldn't underestimate the younger or even the casual gamer. I mean, sometimes art needs to challenge us in order to be valid; whether it be Marina Abramovic testing the limits of the human, or Super Mario testing the limits of a run-n-jump.

There are some game series I

There are some game series I don't really care about anymore. For example everything including Mario and everything including Zelda. The last Mario game I played through was Super Mario Bros. 3, the last Zelda game I played through was Zelda 2 - Adventures of Link. Later games I was trying on occasion, but I'm pretty sure now that I will never play any Mario- or Zelda-game ever again. The perfect 10s that SMG2 got by the truckload didn't change my opinion at all. If there would be no more games coming out starring Mario or Link, I think I wouldn't even notice.

Maybe it's because I'm immune to nostalgia. When I hear Link yelling Hi-YAH while swinging his sword I don't feel like being drawn back to my childhood. I just feel like I've seen it too often already and waste my time.

Oh yeah: has anyone ever seen Mario do some actual plumbing? (With the exception of the strange movie bearing the super mario name, which most people pretend never has existed)

I am no kid anymore... most

I am no kid anymore... most of the times... but i got frustrated with Galaxy1 in some levels... some segments are just hard, easy to die, tough failing is not as punishing than it was in previous Mario games. iirc Sunshine had no checkpoints, Super Mario Land level 3-2 was a nightmare i can remember. Looking at Galaxy, most of all it takes patience to get through and even more to get all stars, it's a really long game, and there is plenty of choice when you can't do one level, just play another. You have to have a certain level of ambition to get frustrated in that game.

Frustrating are imo games were you fail and fail and fail in a short time and can't get past it by taking another route.

RPGs/ act-adv. are always less frustrating. In Zelda OoT i never died, not once, how should i be frustrated by something like this? Similar with Gothic, Vampire Bloodlines, Metroid games. If i die there, it would be one death while playing some minutes, at least. I think it's similar with MH3 in that point? Not enough "concentrated" disappointment.

Matter of Expectations

Hey Brad,

As a new parent myself I am starting to look ahead to when my son is capable of playing games and, well, confronting more complex life challenges. So your observation here is interesting to me.

Your last paragraph struck me as being incomplete. I mean this in the sense that I think there are a lot of examples of works of art that appeal to both kids and adults. In the realm of books, for example, I would say that Harry Potter has thrived with audiences from multiple age groups. How about Through the Looking Glass or The Giving Tree?

There are certainly movies that I saw as a kid that I view quite differently now that I am an adult, but that does not invalidate my experience when I was a kid. One such movie might be Ghostbusters, where there is a lot of adult humor that I did not really grasp when I was 7 years old. Maybe that's not the best example, but you get my point. Many Disney movies, Star Wars, etc. These pieces work on multiple levels, and while they might not be superior at any given level, they are still great works.

As far as games go, I believe they are very different beasts than other art forms. That being said, I still think that they can appeal to multiple age groups.

One thing I would wonder is: How old is your kid? I mean, I wouldn't expect him to be beating Super Mario Galaxy if he's only, say, 4 or 6 years old. How old were you when you beat SMB3? I think it's pretty safe to say that SMB3 is much harder than Galaxy is. Personally, I beat it when I was 12 years old or so. I think there are a lot of games I never beat when I was under 10 but I still thought they were awesome. Mike Tyson's Punch Out would be an example. I guess what I'm saying is that maybe it's just a matter of expectations. Instead of expecting him to beat every challenge, he can take it as a learning opportunity and a life lesson: you're not gonna conquer everything.

Note: I'm definitely not trying to lecture. :) You're way ahead of me in the kid gaming department, as evidenced by the articles and interviews about gaming and parenting that you've done.

Look at it another way

I want to puke every time I read the words "casual gamer". There's no such thing. Nintendo has never refered to anyone as casual nor hardcore and there's a reason for it other than a jaded sense of PR moves. Was everyone who played the Atari 2600 or NES casual gamers? Casual and hardcore describe a playstyle, not a game or system or person. I can be hardcore with Tetris, playing to level 100 or more. I can be casual with Gears of War, popping in for a game of multi-player for 10 minutes at a time. I'm a veteran player, or a fanatic, or a dedicated player. On the opposite side is the noobs, the browsers, the disinterested. Why do I care? Probably because of the negative connotation associated with the term 'casual gamer', like people labeled as such don't care about gaming as a hobby. So to say that Wii gamers == casual gamers indicates that Wii gamers aren't serious about gaming, which is bullshit. Yes, the Wii has an audience of people that don't care about gaming. But every system has that. How many people bought a PS3 just as a bluray player? How many people bought a PS2 just to play Grand Theft Auto and nothing else?

Ok, now that that's out of the way. You know, Nintendo is working on a 'helper' system to allow less skilled gamers to complete areas of a game too dificult for them. But how I laugh to think that someone needs help finishing a Mario game, a so called casual game.

Why does Mario need to be aimed at a demographic? Demographics is a marketing term. Nintendo's aim is to make fun, no matter the age. What other publishers do with their marketing is up to them. Since when do you know Nintendo to follow what their contempories do?

You should go and see what 8th graders had to know back in the 1950s. It blows my mind. What does this have to do with gaming? Its a pattern seen time and time again, especially since the 1980s. If there's a way to make things easier, it will happen. School is easier, work is easier, playing is easier. So, if something bucks this system of easier, how do we react?

Just because something is easy, doesn't mean its fun. And just because something is hard doesn't mean its not fun.

I think Brad raises an

I think Brad raises an interesting topic here.

I'm a long time gamer--not an expert, but not casual either. I've played through all of Galaxy 1 and am now about 1/3 of the way through Galaxy 2. I found a great deal of Galaxy 1 to be frustrating rather than fun, partly because I don't think the camera is nearly as perfect as most critics made it out to be and because the controls seemed a bit too slippery.

While I appreciate the streamlined hub world of 2, I still find the game more annoying than enjoyable. I think part of the problem is that the Galaxy games pick what are (in my view) the wrong parts of Super Mario 64 to extend: the tricky later levels, which were full of falls and drops and perilous environments and were mostly about making it through alive, rather than the earlier portions of the game which involved (at the time) unprecedented environmental exploration and puzzle solving. I enjoyed the sky and clock levels in 64 to some degree because they were striking and different from the rest of the game, but if the whole game had been like that, I would not have enjoyed it nearly as much. For me, the highlight of 64 was sections like the lake area--and the overall idea that each world was a place to be explored and played in rather than a narrow, enemy/drop-filled obstacle course to be endured.

But playing Galaxy 2 after games such as Braid and the 2008 Prince of Persia, it struck me that in one specific way, Nintendo is using a very dated paradigm: while the former two games require you to build skills and master challenges, they don't punish failure with wasted time--sending you all the way back to the beginning of the level or, when you run out of the arbitrary number of lives Mario happens to possess at the moment (arbitrary because half the time, Toad gives you five one ups just for reading a letter from the princess), giving you a game over screen and requiring you to reenter the level. In my view, the system in Braid and Prince is vastly superior to the "die, go back to the beginning, and when you die too many times, get pulled all the way out of the level" system in Mario, which now feels very dated. This dated approach, combined with the slippery controls and camera (the wi controls and the distracting need to wave the remote to gather star bits or shake it to hit enemies) and the narrow obstacle course levels (instead of areas to explore as in 64), make the Galaxy games frustrating rather than fun.

The Wii has a lot of quality

The Wii has a lot of quality games that are easier than any of the Mario games Nintendo has released. I'm not sure I'd want a Mario game to be made easier when there are already loads of other games that fill that kid-friendly void.

To take your analogy with books further, I can imagine reading The Giving Tree, my favorite book, to my fourth graders. (Actually, I think I did a few years ago.) Some students might just enjoy the story and think about what a great friend the tree was. Others might go deeper into the author's messages about love, sacrifice, and loyalty, and might relate those themes to other books they've read or to their own lives.

Mario games have always been like that. You could go cover-to-cover (i.e., beat the game) with some gaming experience under your belt, but it would take a relatively skilled gamer to find all the stars and secret levels and just get the most out of the game. I'm not really sure if what I just wrote makes sense, but it did in my head!

Vince wrote: I want to puke

Vince wrote:

I want to puke every time I read the words "casual gamer". There's no such thing.

"Easy to learn hard to master" is something that can be said about some games. "easy to learn" is aimed at casual gamers while "hard to master" is something hardcore gamers want more often or always. I think it can be said that PoP is more casual and Demons Souls more hardcore? Imo real good games serve both because they don't exclude one or the other group.
The averge casual gamer wants Tetris or Gears or Just Dance to be easy accessible and learn all mechanics on the fly, while playing, don't get frustrated, don't play too long (a problem of GTA IV which is unfinished by many) and he is satisfied by that, while HC gamers want to be challenged and delighted by beating hard passages, want harder AI, less guidance. It's hardly an exact term but i think everyone knows what it means and it has no negative connotation per se. Only when HC-gamers whine about there lost good games (e.g. Operation Flashpoint, Ghost Recon) because they were adapted for those stupid casuals.

Vince wrote: Casual and

Vince wrote:

Casual and hardcore describe a playstyle, not a game or system or person.

I hope more people would make the distinction of 'casual' and 'hardcore' (and everything in between) according to playstyle and how intense someone plays, and not by what or on what console.

Recently I stumbled over a study about World of Warcraft players and more than 80% considered themselves as 'casual'. Still almost no one would call WoW a 'casual game'. Especially not those involved in die hard raiding-guilds that play 7 days a week and at least 5 hours a day to get all their shiny epix.

I consider myself a casual gamer. Not because I would own a Wii (I don't) or because I would play Farmville respectively Nintendogs (I don't). I play CoD Modern Warfare on Veteran and Crysis on the level where the enemies start talking korean. However, I don't play much during the week (less than 2h) and other hobbies have higher priorities than gaming.

crackajack wrote: The

crackajack wrote:

The averge casual gamer wants Tetris or Gears or Just Dance to be easy accessible and learn all mechanics on the fly, while playing, don't get frustrated, don't play too long (a problem of GTA IV which is unfinished by many) and he is satisfied by that, while HC gamers want to be challenged and delighted by beating hard passages, want harder AI, less guidance. It's hardly an exact term but i think everyone knows what it means and it has no negative connotation per se. Only when HC-gamers whine about there lost good games (e.g. Operation Flashpoint, Ghost Recon) because they were adapted for those stupid casuals.

Isn't this just the difference between lazy and dedicated, or unfamiliar versus learned? Many games use a similar control scheme with variations on a theme. Having experience with a number of games gives a player an easier accessibility to the mechanics of pretty much any given game, at least within its own genre.

I know and understand why you want to label games or gamers as casual and hardcore. I really do. I can point them out myself. But its wrong. A game is a game is a game. Good games are good and bad ones are bad. But none are casual nor hardcore. And neither are players, just how they play.

Vince wrote: Isn't this

Vince wrote:

Isn't this just the difference between lazy and dedicated, or unfamiliar versus learned?

lazy?
this and

Quote:

noobs, the browsers, the disinterested

should have a less negative connotation? Seriously?

Quote:

I know and understand why you want to label games or gamers as casual and hardcore. I really do. I can point them out myself. But its wrong. A game is a game is a game. Good games are good and bad ones are bad. But none are casual nor hardcore.

You really would recommend Demons Souls to a casual gamer because it's a good game? Ignore that it is very very hard from all i have heard and just say it's freaking awesome? A review or a recommendation has to have some information in it, you can't just say it's good and that's it.
Wipeout has very different difficulties, so it can be recommended for everyone, imo, or Bayonetta the same. But Armed Assault i never would recommend to anyone who doesn't want to play "slow", keep your fucking head down, realistic shooters, where you have to move right. I can play those casual shooters like Crysis on the Korean level or MW on Veteran but having to learn army style shooting i never could motivate myself to. There is no casual approach in that game. Racing Sims is something i can play, but playing RBR or GTL does require practice before you can win in harder levels. The basic concept, driving, is the same as in NfS or Dirt tough, so it can be played by casuals too. They will crash a lot and place last, but as you can't die in (most) racing games, less frustration than in ArmA. More casual but not really something i would recommend to someone that is not clearly searching for the "real thing". On the other side PoP is very casual, you can't die, i.e. no frustration, no hard puzzles, no hard fighting, only art and cool movement. Objectively it's a perfect game? But it's missing a big point i and i think many others want their games to be: challenging. By describing it to be (only) casual i know what i am going to play and so i am not too much disappointed while playing.
It's a game for lazy gamers? This does describe it less precise than "it's a casual-game", imo. Labeling is necessary to describe it properly in a short way.

I don't think casual is something bad, every game should start casual, but the next step should not be missing, so shouldn't the first step too.

I ain't no expert on the

I ain't no expert on the issues and the debatable topics in games, and personally I'm not into using names like 'Hardcore' and 'Casual' because it seems so elitist in my opinion but, do most people define casual and hardcore based on how well versed they're in gaming and how well they play games, or how serious they take the game they're playing, even if it's a 'Casual' game?

I've seen "Casual" gamers take Tetris seriously, wherein they don't actually play other games, but take Tetris seriously on a Hardcore level. And I've met 'hardcore' gamers who like to flaunt their 'hardcore-ness', but don't necessarily take their games seriously, despite the fact they play dozens of games.

My mother seems to play Farmville for long periods of time, sometimes four hours long, which seems to be quite a long time for a casual gamer. (My mother has had a history with playing older generation games like Impossible Mission and Bubble Bobble.) Perhaps you could say Farmville is, inherently, a casual game, and therefore makes my mother a casual gamer. Well, to someone like my mother, she doesn't necessarily see it that way. She gives Farmville her best effort, and has one of the Farms within her group of friends and relatives. In that sense, she is hardcore, in the same way some "casual" gamers are with Tetris.

Because of this, I can't decide who really is the hardcore gamer. I make the conclusion that the terminology is useless, unless revised. There are probably many different types of gamers, more than just two types like casual and hardcore.

(be aware, I don't know farmville, so my knowledge on the actual game is dubious)

crackajack wrote: "Easy to

crackajack wrote:

"Easy to learn hard to master" is something that can be said about some games. "easy to learn" is aimed at casual gamers while "hard to master" is something hardcore gamers want more often or always.

I don't think so. I take World of Warcraft for example: some people in my guild (I am still considered a member there, despite not having played for more than 2 years... ;-)) never played any video games before WoW and are not at all involved in video games beyond WoW. They don't follow the gaming media (apart from WoW-specific websites) and if some self-proclaimed hardcore gamers would talk to them, they would definitely call them "casual". However, they mastered the controls of not one but multiple classes, most of them have 3 or 4 characters on maximum level and a bunch of them is active in raiding guilds. That's something I stopped doing, because it was too much time investment and I wanted to graduate at some point of my life ;)

In my view the terms hardcore and casual are used too vague, with "casual" being mostly used in a demeaning manner from the already mentioned, self-proclaimed hardcore crowd. The terminology should be either straightened out or be dropped altogether.

Li-Ion wrote: I don't think

Li-Ion wrote:

I don't think so.

change ...gamer to ...gaming, maybe then it fits better.

It's definitely no exact term, as already said. I would call WoW a casual game but there are definitely gamers who play it hardcore style (and are hc-gamers then, imo) and there is certainly hc-stuff in it somewhere, after level 30, as soon as the Lich King is your biggest buddy, whatever... i am "frightened" of endless games since TES3 so i really have no experience with WoW myself...
It's a grey-ish term, and the gamer himself or herself is hardly 100% this or that. But games have a tendency to be more this or more that (or offer at best both!) and i want to know what i get so it has to be described somehow. Casual gamer doesn't mean a lot, but casual gaming does for me in a review.

old argument anew

Always loved this discussion, the necessity of categories. Of course economically theyre necessary, but at the very particular level, they're utterly meaningless, or utterly meaningful. If you've come to consider yourself X, then anything that supposedly caters to X caters to you, same for Y, B, PURPLE, whatever.

If I go see a labeled "comedy" at the theatre and do not laugh once is it still a "comedy." Yes and no right?

It's always about context, the terms will forever be vague, thus you gotta know who you're talking to. To a complete stranger I wouldn't recommend ANYTHING! Ha. But if I knew whether or not they liked games like Monster Hunter or Wii Sports, Madden or Demon's Souls, etc...well then I'd know what to recommend.

That aside, I will always recommend Demon's Souls, haha. I play lots and lots of games, but because I love playing numerous games (with a tendency to always return to Fifa), it's hard to dedicate more than 30 hours to any single title (minus sports games)...so I have not beaten Demon's Souls, in fact it kicked my ass. But I would recommend experiencing it to the casual or hardcore alike. It really doesn't matter to me what category you put yourself in, a good game is a good game. Disagreeing is inevitable, but that doesn't have to do with categories, it has to do with subjective taste. That a demographic supposedly arises from such difference works for marketing purposes, but I'll bet no one falls into ANY category strictly.

The great thing about Mario

The great thing about Mario Galaxy is that you don't HAVE to do everything to progress - heck, you don't even need to complete half of the game in order to "beat" it. If you get stuck, there's usually ten other places you can go to try and get a star instead.

Mario Galaxy 2, despite being a little tougher, takes this a step farther by letting you activate a "demo" that will pass the tough part for you (giving you only a bronze star to show for it that you can come back and replace with a "good" one later now that you saw how it's done). New Super Mario Bros also has this feature.

Between that concession and the open-endedness of the games, I think the Mario games are among the few games that really are for all ends of the spectrum, from young kids and casual gamers to the hardcore geeks who want to collect every star and aren't afraid to get their ass kicked from time to time.

crackajack wrote: I would

crackajack wrote:

I would call WoW a casual game but there are definitely gamers who play it hardcore style (and are hc-gamers then, imo) and there is certainly hc-stuff in it somewhere, after level 30, as soon as the Lich King is your biggest buddy, whatever...

I would say World of Warcraft is one of the most complex RPGs running around, if not the number 1 in terms of complexity. Blizzard manages to hide this fact very well by not showing the mechanisms in tooltips. Well, now they show some info... but for the most part you're left in the woods. It has 9 (more or less) unique classes with tons of different spells, skills and abilities, which are overall very balanced. Each race has different active and passive abilites on top of that. I guess the amount of different weapons, armor and other equipment available ranges in the millions. This includes the famous armor and weapon sets that give certain boni if worn together.

I can't come up with any 'hardcore'-rpg that has a significant higher complexity and/or variety. Yes, Demons Souls is tough as nails and requires a lot of trial and error. But every new high level instance in WoW does the same. Before Arthas was turned into a more manageable boss encounter in patch after patch after patch, thousands of assassination attempts on him failed. They were done by people who are definitely more 'hardcore' in playing WoW than probably most people who bought Demons Souls.

What makes WoW interesting is that it is able to cater to a wide range of audiences (which seems to be the case as well with Mario, with the exception of types like me who don't touch anything Mario ever again). However, that everyone can reach max level in this game doesn't mean it would be easy.

Therefore the labeling of WoW as 'casual' or 'hardcore' makes not much sense, as does it for most games. Chess can be played by pretty much anyone. I play it once a year with a good friend of mine when we meet to talk about old times. But it wouldn't make sense calling Chess a casual game, considering the likes of Kasparov, Fischer or Anand.

I stay with my assessment, that casual and hardcore are these days predominantly used as demeaning terms to devaluate someone else's playstyle by e.g. folks running sites like Screw Attack or Destructoid.

Li-Ion wrote: Therefore the

Li-Ion wrote:

Therefore the labeling of WoW as 'casual' or 'hardcore' makes not much sense, as does it for most games.

As already said: most games are this AND that to some extent.
Chess, a short learning phase, but after that it is a lot of practice and the ability to look in the future... Of course it can be played casual style and hardcore. That's what i'm talking about.

But can you really play Prince of Persia hardcore-style? By a speedrun? By 24/7 guiness book gaming? Ok, then every game can be hardcore. But it's so much designed around not having any edges, there it must be allowed to call it a casual experience.

I like the casualness in all games (when it's not the only part), so i really don't know why i should not allow critics to label it that way, as long as they don't do it as you said in a demeaning manner, to heighten themselves in a non joking way as the superior elite gamer class.

I don't think kids need to

I don't think kids need to be "talked" down to when it comes to difficulty in games. No challenge breeds no satisfaction upon completion.

That said, I'm all for having difficulty levels to help accommodate people of different skill levels. I relish some games because they're so hard, but I don't blame anyone for using easy mode.

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