Developing WoW Podcast Seeks Input
All too often guilds think that if they’re all friends, all great players, or even without any restrictions that things will work out naturally. It doesn’t matter if your guild considers itself to be “casual”, you need to have a certain level of organization. Even if your guild is hardcore, your members need a reason to stick around beyond just progression and loots. A few of my friends and I are working on creating a podcast geared towards finding that balance between what some people consider to be “casual” and others would call “hardcore”.
Defining “Casual” and “Hardcore”
Trying to state what makes a guild either “casual” or “hardcore” is a source of much debate in the WoW community. My favorite WoW Insider columnist, Scott Andrews, makes a great point by saying:
It is impossible to define [casual and hardcore] in terms of playtime. Someone who plays a game 20 hours per week might be considered hardcore when compared to someone who only plays for 5 hours per week, while someone who plays for 80 hours might consider the 20-hour player to be casual.
If your game is words-have-a-definite-answer-so-stop-playing-around, I can play that game too. Let’s see how it goes when we enter the words “casual” and “hardcore” into the word-o-matic 2000.
The word “casual” is defined in a number of ways. Some definitions describe the word as meaning “by chance” or “by accident”. So, would a casual guild be a guild that does things by chance or accident, like monkeys are at the keyboard? Other definitions use words like “unconcerned” or “apathetic”. So, are some guilds made up of robots? The definitions that probably come closest to the way we often use the word casual to describe guilds are “occurring without regularity”, “informal”, and “not premeditated”. You could understand “without regularity” as meaning not often. What it actually means is not happening on a regular basis. “Informal”, assuming we’re not talking about guild attire, means without requirements, customs, or conventions. It’s impossible to play WoW without adhering to some requirements etc., it’s just a part of doing anything as a group. The one that strikes me a hilarious is “not premeditated”. So… could we call some guild activities “2nd degree raiding”? I could just see a group saying “Oh, my god, what have I done!? We killed this boss! I didn’t mean to! You gotta believe me!” I would say that using the word “casual” to describe anything that a guild does together in WoW is something of a misnomer.
Hardcore is a really tricky word to get congruent definitions for. It’s definitely an idiomatic term in the way that neither “hard” nor “core” seem to have any bearing on how we tend to use the word. One of the most common definitions of hardcore is “resistant to change” or “unable to escape a negative condition”. It’s unlikely that any successful guild that calls themselves “hardcore” would be resistant to change. A guild has to adapt to achieve goals and stay interesting for its members. The other most common definition can be condensed down to “unswervingly committed”. This is a definition that would allow us to apply the term to individuals, but whether we could apply it to all guilds that call themselves hardcore is questionable.
Do the terms “casual” and “hardcore” need to be antonyms? Can they operate within a continuum? Why not? The words are relative. This means that they are subject to your point of view. Here’s an example:
FitnessGuy1 works out all the time. Compared to me, this guy is a hardcore fitness junky. Compared to him, I’m casual at best.
FitnessGuy2 works out all the time and eats raw egg yolks. FitnessGuy1 thinkgs eating egg yolks is hardcore.
FitnessGuy3 is a bodybuilder who is more ripped than the Incredible Hulk’s purple pants. He thinks that we’re all a bunch of casual dorks.
Essentially, you can’t refer to anything as being casual or hardcore without first comparing it to something else. It’s the same as short and tall. Fast and slow. Closer or farther. Casual or hardcore.
Even if we agree on what these terms mean, they can still exist in a continuum instead of a linear system. If you are “casual” and then you step up your “coreness” towards being more “hardcore”, you are approaching “Max Potential Hardcore”. This isn’t your personal potential, but instead the potential that exists for all players to an amount that is the absolute most. Conversely, you would approach “Most Chillax Casual”. What’s beyond either of these two extremes? A “Non-Existent Level of Gameplay”. You can’t be more hardcore than the most hardcore. You can’t be more casual than the most casual. This state of gameplay just doesn’t exist, and thus is essentially equal no matter what direction you approach it from.
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We need to tread carefully when applying labels to things. This goes far beyond the confines ow WoW. We use labels to simplify the difficulty in understanding the world around us. This habit of course follows us into WoW. We also use labels to promote psychological welfare (or to do damage) or to differentiate ourselves from what we prefer not to be. Something that has stayed with me ever since the first time I saw the movie “Wayne’s World” is the quote, originally by Søren Kierkegaard, “Once you label me you negate me.” If you want to prove this, organize a guild and label it “casual” or “hardcore” . Right away you’re setting not only and expectation, but a limitation.
So my real question for you is not what your idea of what casual and hardcore are, but what issues come up that have to do with balancing these two extremes? One of the things I feel my guilds does very well is to maintain this kind of balance. We manage to meet the needs of our serious raiders and of our just-for-fun players. Often times we do this simultaneously. Any input to help this podcast get up and running would be most welcome.
Thanks for reading!