The other night, I began to think (a dangerous pastime, I know), and it seems like nobody can go a single day without tripping over articles written by 'hardcore' gamers that hint or flat out insult the 'idiocy' of casual gamers, Nintendo, or both.
But here's the thing: should it be the other way around?
Some time ago, I was a casual gamer. I never looked at game videos, previews, images, or even magazines for previews of games. All I'd do was go to a store, buy a game based on its brand, word of mouth, or if the cover or promotions looked cool.
That said, I bought a handful of really good games as well as really bad ones. But here's the kicker: some of those 'bad ones' I really loved. Metacritic lists Mission Impossible on the N64 as a 60% average title, many professional reviewers giving it scores as low as 30%, yet I loved it so much that I played it at least five times through.
But why? Again, it was because I was a casual gamer. Unlike these reviewers, I didn't know what to expect; I didn't know the history behind the development of this game, which apparently was anticipated by some. That said, once I popped it in, it was a completely new experience to me, something where I couldn't hold expectations of any sort. It was a different game to me, and I treated it as such.
And this holds true to even Nintendo's games and their sequels. I bought Ocarina of Time while never knowing it was in development, and you can imagine the love I felt for it. The same held true for Majora's Mask and Wind Waker, two titles with similar formulas but vastly different styles. So why didn't I enjoy Twilight Princess on the same level as its predecessors when it did everything that made the series popular?
Enter the next generation of games, the current generation.
Once the new consoles came out, I evolved into a hardcore gamer. I went to websites, watched videos, got previews, the whole kit and kaboodle. Some websites practically revealed the whole intro of the game to me before I even bought it. In the end, I had expectations and opinions of games that I didn't even own, let alone played. This ruined way too many titles to count, mainly sequels, because I couldn't see them as their own games, which is what they should have been.
All I can say is that all of my favorite games are games that I never knew existed until they landed on the store shelf: Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, Wind Waker, Resident Evil 4, Metroid Prime, Metal Gear Solid 1-3, Chrono Cross, and Final Fantasy VIII (yes, 8), just to name a few. After becoming a hardcore gamer and following every tidbit of news on each of these games' sequels, if they had one, none of them were as enjoyable.
It's not to say that I didn't know a bad game when I played it, I just very rarely encountered it. In order for a game to be 'bad,' it had to have a deal breaker, a game-ending problem that was not my fault, like a game mechanic that got in the way of the fun. For example, there was a PlayStation Digimon game that evolved your monsters depending on how you took care of them. The problem, however, is that taking perfect care of them was impossible, so you were always stuck with the bad monsters.
And it's not to say that I frown on looking at reviews, no sir. It's always good to know if a game has problems or limitations, or if at least somebody enjoyed it. It's good to have insight before you drop $50+ on a game. In fact, GameInformer's 10/10 and written review for Wind Waker was that final key that made me want to purchase it because, I am shameful to say, I was a bit skeptical of its new look. I punished myself shortly afterwards after having too much fun with it, and for the record, I did not compare it to Ocarina of Time or Majora's Mask; it was its own game, and I enjoyed it because of that. Once more, it all stemmed from how I didn't know what to expect from it.
Now to wrap up my thoughts with a tl;dr recap:
In the end, I have made a vow. By the time the next generation of games occurs, I'm going to ween myself from Internet gaming-related media. I want to go back to being a casual gamer, because when you look at the whole picture, it seems like casuals are enjoying their 'casual focused' games more than the hardcore gamers are with theirs.