What kind of gamer are you? Are you a PC gamer? A console gamer? Hardcore? Casual? Do you like shooters or strategy games? RPGs or MMOs? FarmVille, anyone? Does what you play define who you are? Are you sure?
I've been a gamer for most of my life, but I've given them up twice. Once when, as a teenager, I simply didn't have time. I'd discovered theater and girls and was spending late nights and weekends with one or the other - always. After college, I saved up and bought a PC just to play TIE Fighter. That sparked a new wave of gaming obsession for me, which ended rather dramatically when I started a company and again, couldn't find the time to play.
My second gaming drought lasted two or three years. The Dreamcast brought me back in 2000, then I built a PC to play Deus Ex, bought an Xbox to play Knights of the Old Republic, a PS2 to play Guitar Hero, an Xbox 360 to play Gun, a Wii to play Twilight Princess and a PS3 because ... well, why not?
So what kind of gamer am I? Am I hardcore? Am I a PC snob? A console tard? I've played almost every console ever made, including one of the first, and own all of the latest. Yet I have built PCs from parts, just to game. When I worked in television, I oversaw the construction of the most expensive gaming PC ever made. It was supposed to be a demo model that we kept on the set just for show, but on many a night, when the lights went dark and everyone else went home, I'd fire up the Ultimate Gaming Machine to play Quake 3 Arena on the studio T1 internet connection against losers who had no idea who they were messing with.
These days, I play the latest games because it's my job to do so. I also play Plants vs. Zombies and Mafia Wars, because they're fun. I also practice my marksmanship at the firing range, hike in the mountains, work on my car and build things out of wood and metal. Am I a gamer at all?
I used to play games from when I got home from work to when I went to bed and all through the weekends. Easily a 40 hour per week habit. Was I hardcore? These days I'm lucky to play for 10 hours a week; usually it's much less. Does this make me a casual gamer? What if I'm playing Napoleon: Total War?
If I'm describing myself, I'd have to say that I consider myself a hardcore gamer. I mean, I have a plush Bee Suit Mario sitting on my desk that I bought in Japan, at the Tokyo Game show. Even if I could say I only went to Tokyo because it was part of my job, nobody held a deadline to my head to force me to buy the stuffed plumber in a bee costume.
So yeah, hardcore is me, but I don't feel hardcore. Most days I feel like an addict taking it one day at a time, parceling out the falls off the wagon and spreading them around trips outside. Then I play a new game for 10 hours straight, get bored and feel like I'm getting soft - casual. Then I spend a half hour writing about what kind of gamer I am and feel like a moron, like some neurotic existentialist anxious over the lack of a cliff to debate jumping off of.
What do you think? How do my (gaming) habits compare to yours? Do you consider yourself hardcore or casual? PC or console? Or does it even really matter? Are we all just "gamers"?
Let me know in the comments, then see what the authors of the articles in this week's issue of The Escapist, "Full Spectrum Gamer," think.