This article has been making the rounds on game blogs and mailing lists. Some of the OMs were discussing whether we agreed with the article or not, and I thought I'd link it here and see what you guys thought.
The article is about one gamer's concern about the impact of consoles like the Wii and the growing populations of "casual" gamers on the game industry and development.
I disagree that the games industry will suffer if "young males will no longer be the dominant segment of the console audience". No offense young men, but I believe that an industry focused solely on making products designed to appeal to young men will not have the depth or range of an industry focused on making things to appeal to, well, a variety of people.
Furthermore, if the games industry expands to include more gamers and a wider audience, it will most likely expand in terms of employees, development, and game companies. Why would we start making fewer games for young men if they still want to buy the same number of games? Why not develop both the games targeted to their demographic as well as different games (that they may also enjoy?) I can see at least the same number of game companies specializing in the types of games made now in addition to the new games developed. Why not, if it is a profitable business?
Second, the person in this article seems to focus a lot on how the games made for a "casual" audience aren't pushing the limits of new technology when I feel that games don't need to be on the bleeding edge of technology to be good. In fact, why do more games not use tried and proven technologies instead of brand new and often unstable products? People often point to the art style of World of Warcraft, the most popular game in the MMO space right now as something that isn't hyper-realistic or the most technologically advanced. This is not something that seems to have crippled its popularity.
Lastly, "hardcore" as it is defined in this article is a very arbitrary term. The population of console games has traditionally been young men, but if you're the target population that a product has been (successfully) geared towards, you'll probably be an enthusiastic customer that plays the games. It hardly seems fair to call the current population of young male gamers "hardcore" because they like the games that were made to appeal to them. It seems a more indicator to me that the game companies have achieved their goals well.
If two people spend an equal amount of time enjoying two different games, what makes one gamer "hardcore" vs. the other? If my flatmate spends 3 hours a day playing say, Crackdown on the XBOX 360 every day, and the other spends 3 hours playing say, Wii Sports, both focus on perfecting their scores and techniques. Where is the difference?
I think that this attitude about "hardcore" vs. "casual" may come from the current population of video gamers feeling overwhelmed by a large new generation of game players that do not share their console and game history coming into and influencing the market.
As a martial arts enthusiast, I welcome new people practicing my style, but I do also have very strong opinions on what is "good" and what is "bad" martial arts practice, so I understand concerns, especially concerns about the new "whippersnappers" coming in without what I feel is the same knowledge and appreciation of the history and fundamentals of the art.
As a "casual" gamer, if a gamer at all, I hardly see my interest in some games as an invasion of an existing community, and I feel that being interested in some games and having some games made that I'd like more than within my rights.
What do you mates think?