OPINION: What is a Core Game?

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

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Steve Baltimore: Today, I feel that “core” does mean “more adult” since more adults play games these days than kids. This could also be because gaming grew up with me. I mean in the late 90’s you could finally have a game that had a few Christian overtones or something that had more blood and gore in it without people getting angry.

I mean, on the Genesis Mortal Kombat you had to put a code in to have blood. Nintendo said at the time there would be no blood as they are a family game company and will stay that way, but by Mortal Kombat 2 they found out money talks.

Rose Weitz: To me a core game is something you specifically sit down to play, where a casual game is something you play when convenient. It’s “Oh, hey I’ve found myself with 20 minutes to wait for X. BRING ON THE ANGRIEST OF BIRDS!” against “Oh man, I have tomorrow off… 20 HOUR SKYRIM RUN!” I’m not saying one is necessarily better than the other. They both serve different purposes. One you do when time allows, the other you allow time to do. I don’t see why examples can’t fluctuate from person to person. To each his own! Core games are in the eye of the beholder.

Steve Thompson: A core game and a casual game are distinguished between many factors. One is ease of accessibility. A casual game should be simple to play, like Angry Birds, while a core game should be complex like Metal Gear. Another is that a core game should focus on delivering a complex story and deep gameplay, while a casual game should focus on providing a fun way to kill time. A casual game is targeted towards people with little no experience with core games and core games are targeted towards the traditional gamer who views games as their chosen personal hobby.

Angry Birds – my guilty pleasure.

Ceruleath Noreleth: “Core” means “time consuming”. It means you cannot jump into the game, then get off of it five minutes later and expect to have made some significant progress.  Casual games on the other hand, are those you can jump in and jump out of without feeling like you accomplished nothing. You can still have fun and progress without putting in so much time, or be forced to grind for hours on end to make it from point a to point b.

Core games: NOT Instant gratification – they make you work for it.
Casual games: Give instant gratification – very little ‘work’ involved.

Will Whitehurst: I consider core games to have had, for the most part, a lot of time and effort put into them. It doesn’t matter what genre they are, what system they’re on, or whatever. I think that, with very few exceptions, core games are the ones that show true depth in atmosphere, story and/or innovation. Not all games with this criterion fit this model, because one concept could be eschewed in favor of another. Take Call of Duty installments, which excel in atmosphere, but always seem to have an extremely short story and a feeling of meh. Also, the “one game a year” policy that EA, Activision and Capcom have put in place is, in my opinion, robbing the industry of core games. Sure, Street Fighter X Tekken may not LOOK casual, but it does not have the level of depth you’d find in, hell, even Double Dragon Neon.

Charlotte Buckingham: For me, a core game is one with depth, and what one will find to be “core” will depend on what they like to play and how they play it. Games like Style Boutique, Zoo Tycoon and most movie-based games are ones that I would describe as “casual”. And games like Xenoblade, The World Ends with You and Okami are all “core” games. But then the line can get blurred, and here’s how I think it goes.

Games like Pokemon or Zelda can be either core or casual, depending on how they’re played. A 6-year-old would just play Pokemon, get all the badges, beat the Elite Four and then probably be done with it. But someone older might play Pokemon, get all the gym badges, beat the Elite Four, and then start breeding for the right nature and IVs and then start EV training. And that is something no casual player would ever do. Zelda: Again, a casual player would probably go through the dungeons, save the princess and then leave the game alone. But someone like me will go through it again, collecting everything possible and 100%ing the game.

What I’m trying to say is, some games are clearly either core or casual. But then there are others that can be treated either way, and in those cases, it really depends on how the gamer decides to play them.

Oscar Tong: After playing Bejeweled for iOS for awhile and thinking really hard, I’ve decided that for me, a core game needs at least one of two qualities: depth or non-repetitiveness. Although I like FarmVille, it doesn’t really satisfy me because I feel the game mechanics are shallow, and the gameplay is repetitive. Tetris and Bejeweled, on the other hand, feel different with every session. The mechanics are simple and constant, yet the experience is always fresh. In addition, being puzzle games, they engage my brain, which gratifies me. FarmVille, however, I find perfunctory and stagnant. It is, at best, a pleasant distraction, but it never amounts to anything more.

Tetris and Bejeweled have depth in gameplay, but I usually favor depth in storytelling. I feel this is the most satisfying application of the interactive nature of a game. A game can’t just tell a story, however—it has to captivate me, immerse and involve me in its narrative, fictional universe, or both. I suppose the experience is comparable to reading a novel, especially a classic one. For me, it takes a lot of work to read the first several chapters of a meaty novel—a challenging prospect. But if I push myself, I’ll usually find myself drawn in and unable to stop reading, not even to sleep, eat, bathe, or feed my cat. (I’m kidding about not feeding my cat.) It’s not like an Archie comic, which I can pick up, read, chuckle at, and put away in five to fifteen minutes, then never think about it again.

Like a good novel, a good storytelling game gradually develops a compelling plot, unveils a fascinating setting, and introduces likeable and fun-to-hate characters. By the time the story ends, I’ll wish I didn’t have to return to the real world or be parted from the characters. This is an experience I can’t get out of a casual game

David Rawlings: Something that challenges the player, not something that your Grandmother can win by farting on a Wii Remote.

Now you’ve heard from us, we’d like to hear from you! Like what someone said? Think some of us are full of crap? Let us know in the comments below! It’s an interesting topic, for sure. Tell us what you think!

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