Correlation does not imply causation is a…for lack of a better phrase…self-check mantra in the scientific community. It simply means that because two variables have a link together does NOT mean that they are intrinsically linked. The ever famous, widely bandied about graph of the “pirates vs. global temperature” is a perfect example of this. In short, it says that, as the number of pirates has gone down, the global temperature has gone up. This is directly inferring that a lack of pirates is responsible for global warming. Correlation does not imply causation, in this context, says that while they may be correlated together…it doesn’t mean that that’s WHY it’s happening. Unfortunately, I say the “scientific community”. It hasn’t branched out of there and it should. Especially into the gaming community.
As I’m hope you’re aware at this point…I like games. I like games a LOT. One could even consider me fairly hardcore about video games. I would not disagree. I put in about 600 DAYS (14400 hours) of play-time in the ten (eleven?) years of Final Fantasy XI I played before I left. I have about 1000 hours in Team Fortress 2 (before I reset my stats due to a score glitch that bugged me). I recently put in 73 hours on Dragon Age: Origins in the span of 10 days. I feel like I’m pretty hardcore about it. But if you were to ask what difficulty I play these games on, you would immediately disregard a lot of that and call me…a casual. And that bothers me.
In the gaming community now, there seems to be a weight, a gravitas placed on being a “hardcore gamer”. From doing endless endgame runs in World of Warcraft to playing games on Extreme Ludicrous Gibs Nightmare Insanity Permadeath mode…difficulty and struggle is giving a priority, a badge of courage if you will. And, frankly, as well it should. If you’re getting Platinum God on Binding of Isaac, bully to you. But on the flip side of the coin, there is a growing trend of “scrub” and “noob” being associated with doing things the “easy” way. Easy difficulty, the perceived dumbing down of MMOs and other games to appeal to wider audiences. This is wrong.
I play my games on easy or “casual” mode if I am given the chance. Almost always. The only time I don’t do it is if I want to unlock an achievement because I love achievements as much as I love pork buns and scotch and sodas. I play on easy mode for a variety of reasons. First off is my anxiety. Easy mode allows me to relax and play video games, instead of constantly being tense and worried about upcoming battles or what-have-you. It allows me a degree of freedom from my ever present anxiety which is part of the reason I play video games in the first place. But more importantly, I play on Easy because I want to enjoy the story. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good challenge. But I have to be in the MOOD for a challenge. And it has to be in small bursts. Some may say that playing on easy mode (with “e-z mode” being borderline derogatory now) is a proverbial walk in the park and that no hardcore gamer would do this.
Have you ever taken a walk in the park? I don’t quite understand why this is a bad thing because walks in the park are AMAZING. Sure, it’s not a grueling race to the finish but you get to stop, see the sights, explore, take in the ambiance, get to know the park. I could choose hard mode which, I suppose, would be like a marathon over hot coals through the park. There is the sense of accomplishment of finishing the marathon, true…but do you really notice anything of your surroundings when you’re bolting through in a desperate attempt not to sear the flesh off your feet? Probably not.
I have played, at this time of writing, 75 hours of Fallout: New Vegas and I haven’t earned one damn achievement in it. Why? Because I play with god mode on. Sometimes I’ll give myself stuff. And I’d be seen as a casual because of this. But, dammit, I’m not there to cram Stimpacks into every orifice I have. I’m not there to inhale so much Jet I turn into a A10 Warthog. I just want to shoot the baddies, discover the absolute fuckton of hidden secrets tucked into every nook and cranny, and not have to worry about nearly crapping myself when a surprise Glowing Ghoul pops out from behind a door and doses me with enough Rads to cook whatever food I have in my inventory.
Just because I play on easy mode or with cheats or whatever doesn’t make me a casual. Correlation does not imply casualation. So, go ahead, call me casual. On some small level, I guess I do care (I’m writing this, after all) but that may just be something instilled in me by the community I’ve been a part of for nigh on 19 years now. But the vast majority of me knows how long I sat around camping Leaping Lizzy and realizes that you’re full of it.