A while ago there was – perhaps rightly so – a bit of murmur when I referred to myself as a hardcore gamer. According to comments, I’m not a hardcore gamer since I’m not playing games like NetHack or other games with an extremely high learning curve. Fair enough, but I’m still having a hard time describing my relationship to the gaming in any other manner than as hardcore. But me being a hardcore gamer or not isn’t interesting in the slightest sense.
What is interesting is the notion of hardcore itself. What does it mean? For starters, the term hardcore presupposes that there is a wider, more diverse spectrum of audience in which core the “hard ones” are. Indeed, one cannot be a hardcore if there’s no softcore to compare with.
In short, my understanding of the matter is, that a hardcore is an enlightened enthusiast of a particular field of culture that is also recognized by the mainstream, which is actually the ultimate paradox of any snobbery in any field: we need the mainstream in order to exist.
If we look at the history of spectacle, for instance the Magic Lantern, the medium, or picture apparatus, itself was more than enough to attract people, therefore the show was aimed basically for every demography who were only able to take part in the event. Since then, the same has recurred every time a new medium has been introduced. It takes time for people to see pass the medium and start to demand content that is relevant to their interests, which leads to the birth of genres. At that point, the audience starts to divide and subcultures start to rise. In a way, the appearance of a hardcore audience segment is a sign that the medium in question is starting to stabilize itself, which is a good thing. And at the moment, video games are right in the middle of that process, which makes the medium so exciting.
Of course, the term “hardcore “ is completely interchangeable with the term “nerd”, but who wants to be a nerd when you can be a hardcore?