8bitrocket.com
31Jan/080

Mid-Core Gamer Manifesto

A few weeks back, we here at 8bitrocket.com declared ourselves to be Mid-Core Gamers. Jeff's declaration was met with a smattering of agreement from other sites, but it was not an earth shaking response. Still, it was encouraging, and since we not only believe in the theory of Mid Core Gamers , but also live it every day, we have decided to explore this idea a bit further. us.

Also, we are putting together a Manifesto of the top-10 things that we Mid-Core Gamers would like to see in games targeted to our demographic. This is in no-way final, but it is our best first guess from what we currently know.

1. Save Anywhere/Autosave/Respect Our Time:

We only have time to play games in roughly 5-60 minute increments. We need the ability to save our game at a moment's notice. If a game's difficulty is designed around the fact that is cannot be saved anywhere, it is too hardcore for us. Not only do we need to save anywhere, but we don't want to waste the time we have invested in the game if we can't save any where. An alternative or addition to "Save Anywhere" is an intelligently used 'autosave' feature.

We would like something significant to happen in a game during the time period we have allotted to play. A plot point, new item, finished race, completed mission or task should take roughly 30 minutes (give or take 15 minutes) to achieve. This allows us to see progress in a game, and keeps us interested in continuing. Games with long cut scenes (i.e Final Fantasy X 30 minute intro) are rendered unplayable because we never have enough time to get past the exposition and into the game.

Our free time is precious, and it needs to be respected.

2. Games Should be Affordable

We are not suggesting that new games should cost $.99 nor are we suggesting that state-of-the-art releases should only cost $29.99. But we are saying this: We can't justify spending $59.99 on games each month unless they can also be played with the rest of our families (read: Wii). For games targeted to us, $19.99 is a perfect price, but $9.99 is nicer while $29.99 is our upper limit. $.99 is great price for downloadable classic games. Also, we Mid-Core Gamers can be very patient. When Elder Scroll Oblivion was released, it fit perfectly into our demographic (see below), but the price was far too high. Now, after nearly two years, the price has come-down to $29.99. Bingo. We can bide our time for a good game.

3. Reasonable Graphic Choices

We don't buy computer hardware like we used to. We don't upgrade for the sake of upgrading, we don't care too much about getting top FPS scores. In fact, many of our games are played on laptops with good (but not the latest) graphics cards. Games do not need to employ the latest 3D graphic technology just for the sake of having it, or require the latest OS. Games can have nice graphics (2D or 3D), but the most important aspect of the graphics is that they fit the game and serve it well.

4. We Love Single Player Games

Single-player games are our bread-and-butter. We understand that the gaming world is filled with amazing hard-core and multi-player gaming experiences. We also realize that those games usually take more time and resources than we have available. For this reason, we eat-up single-player games. Even single-player games that appear to be "hard core" would fit the Mid-Core mold if they adhere to the other parts of this manifesto. A great example of a single-player game that fits the Mid-Core is Elder Scrolls Oblivion. It is an expansive, yet "light" RPG that fits many of the aspects of this manifesto: (engrossing depth, $29.99 price point, works on a good laptop, can save anywhere, etc).

5. Cooperative Games On One Screen Are Gold

Cooperative two-player games are gold. If they are deep enough to appeal the hard-core portion of our gamer-personality, but easy enough so we can get the wife/husband/significant other and/or the kids involved, we can probably play them beyond the 60 minute barrier. A very good example of this type of game is Lego Star Wars. It's appeals to our inner geek, has long and interesting levels, but allows two people to play on the screen at once. Of course, Lego Star Wars did not allow the game to be "saved any where", but it fit many of the other aspects of this manifesto.

6. Multi-player Games: Play Anytime, Find Friends Easily, No Fees, Voice Chat Not Necessary

We do enjoy playing multi-player games online with friends and sometimes, even strangers. However, there is a limit to what we can handle. First off, an "instant and anonymous multi-player mode" similar to the Wii version of Guitar Hero can work very well because it means we can compete quickly, but each game only takes a few minutes. However, if we do want to play against friends, you need to make it very easy. We need to be able to tell very quickly if someone we know is online, and if so, connect with and challenge them instantly. The Wii is terrible for this purpose, XBox Live is better, but it requires a monthly fee (see below). If Playstation Home remains free, it might be the perfect model. Also, one more thing. We don't want to hear 13 year old kids curse at us for not moving quickly enough. If your multi-player games requires us to participate in voice-chat, we are probably not interested.

7. "Casual" Games Don't Have To Be Simple Games

We Mid-Core Gamers love all types of games. To some extent, Mid-Core gamers are "casual" gamers in that we do enjoy many of the types of games that are geared towards the "casual" demographic. However, we tend towards "casual" style games with a bit more depth. For instance, Bejeweled is a passable diversion, but Puzzle Quest is an obsession. Bookworm Deluxe is nice way to kill some minutes, but Bookworm Adventures is an unshakable addiction. Where there is depth, but with the aforementioned save anywhere feature, we will be there.

8. Size Does Not Matter

The last two commercial games I have installed on my computer have been just about 5.5 GB in size each. 5.5 Gigabytes! I believe just about every single game ever made before 1994, could fit in 5.5 GB with room for 1000's more. Graphically those games could never compare with the modern 5.5 GB behemoth, but game-play and depth wise? A lot of those pre 1994 games had much more than in some modern games. The point here is not that "retro games are better" but that the size of the game on the hard drive is not necessarily proportional to its quality as piece of entertainment. Most good Flash games download in less than 1 megabyte. Good, downloadable PC games can be had that are under 20 megabytes (i.e.: New Star Soccer). Mid-Core Gamers do not need bloat, they need well designed games with solid game-play. If a game is worth the 5.5 GB required, that is fine, but if not, it eill probably be removed fairly quickly and never played again.

9. No need to be "mature" for the sake of being "mature"

Mid-Core Gamers are mostly adults. Mid-Core Gamers were also once 13 years old, and also once laughed about the name Lake Titticaca" in Social Science class. However, that does not mean we need resort to only consuming "mature" material, or that our in-game humor has to be at the scatological level. Yes we do play games, but we don't want to have to hide them, their boxes, or the game magazines we read from our families simply because they might have a cover featuring, for example, an artist' rendition of scantily-clad female robot tearing the intestines out of space marine. Mature content is not necessarily taboo, it just needs to be used to serve the story, not in place of it.

10. Yes To One-Time Fees, Rarely To Monthly Fees,

Mid-Core Gamers are not fond of monthly fees. We can not always subscribe to your game, live service, player matching server, etc. if it means we have to pay for it month after month. We can't afford it, and we don't want to have to explain this fee to our husband/wife/significant other. For the rare game, a monthly fee might be workable, but we won't last very long. However, if there is a compelling reason, we will pay one-time fees. One-time fees for updates, new chapters, sequels, power boosts (i.e. Adventure Quest), add-on modules etc. are acceptable. However, the one-time fees must be reasonable, and offer a significant benefit. A One-time fee that allows us to buy things that should have been included in the game in the first place
(i.e. Horse Armor) is not acceptable.

Axioms
1. There Are Exceptions To All These Rules
2. Midcore Gamers can be of any age
3. Any game can be a Midcore Game.
4. In some cases Midcore is not the game, but how you play the game

More On Mid-Core:

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