Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Cheapcore Gaming

I'm a gamer. I've been gaming since 1984 with Wizardry! However, I usually don't refer to myself as a hardcore gamer because I started gaming before that term was invented. (Yeah, call me old.) Back in the 90's, I got tired of spending lots of games and computers, so I decided to always buy from the discount gaming rack and only buy cheap computers. The combination worked beautifully. I called this cheap core gaming.

Back then, with massive jumps in graphics every year, many people downplayed older games as terrible. Games that had great street reputations when originally published had quickly become pariahs because of their comparatively bad graphics. Being cheap, I didn't care. If the game was good two years ago, it would still be good today. And I was right. I spent lots of time playing good games at a cheap price. I also spent lots of time buying terrible games at a cheap price, but I didn't feel horrible for it because I hadn't spent much anyway.

In general, I tended to spend a month playing any game unless I particularly liked it or it really lent itself to more playing. I usually spent 6 hours a day on any game, more on weekends. That's a whole lot of gameplay, which is why I tended to swap games frequently.

These days, I'm still on the cheapcore treadmill. I go through games slower as I have a child and more life activities keeping me distracted. My eyes also can't stay on the screen as ridiculously long as they used to. Because I don't keep up, the depth of games available to me grows, meaning that there are more good games out there than I can easily play through. This low price makes even middling games like Mass Effect playable (if Bioware games can be called playable). No matter how disgusted I got with the game, I knew that I hadn't spent much, so all the tedious planet exploration, cut scenes, and imposed character building didn't hurt that much. I began with low expectations which were easily met.

The advantage of cheapcore is that walking away from a game is possible. I'm not stuck striving to get the maximum amount of money out of my title, and I sure as hell don't feel tempted by most DLCs or other micro-transactions.

Some games are harder than other. Sometimes I'm up for the challenge, willing to work long hours because I'm enjoying the experience, but at other times I just don't give a fuck because the difficulty is perverse rather than entertaining. I strongly prefer a game with good flow over a game with extreme challenges. I especially like the combination of good flow with optional challenges, but I have to admit that I'm not a details dink, so challenges that require vast expertise of game mechanics get lost on me. When playing I tend to find what's effective enough to win and run with that. For example, while playing Fallout 4, I quickly realized that the modding system allowed me to make the equipment that I wanted, but once I had that equipment, modding just stopped being useful. I could have gotten more out of the system, but I didn't care enough to bother.

The real gem of cheapcore is that you have self-permission to ignore all hyperbole and fanboyism, both for and against any game. You feel unafraid to play bad games because there's not much on the line, and even more pleasant, you get surprised by good games like Portal. You also take chances on games that you ordinarily wouldn't play at all. In that way, I think that I'm harder core than any hardcore gamer, who only play AAA titles at full price, and then only those games that they like. While they're stuck in their little hardcore world, I get to stroll about and meet the neighbors.