On ‘hardcore’ fans

I keep seeing the word hardcore thrown around.

Not the Diablo character mode. And not what Infinity Ward’s Mark Rubin called it.

Hardcore as in, diehard loyal. To a media franchise – games, comics, movies.

There’s usually disapproval, or pride, behind it. Like elitist or old guard. Like an attitude that’s, intrinsically, more negative than positive.

But what exactly is it?

As in “this entry in the series is so bad, only hardcore fans would appreciate it”.

I call that loyalty. A willingness to overlook even glaring flaws because the sum means much more than the parts.

And “these fans are so hardcore, they refuse to accept what this entry did to their beloved series”?

That’s perfectionism. An unwillingness to overlook even small flaws because the parts, after all, are the sum.

Speaking of Diablo, many gamers will remember Diablo III’s launch. The WWII to the Diablo fanbase’s Korea. The polarising into South and North camps of ‘still good’ and ‘epic fail’.

Loyalty? Or perfectionism? Does it matter?

I’m a paying subscriber to a media franchise. I don’t just want a good game. I want a worthy successor. That I care enough to be hardcore is not nitpicking – it’s concern.

Besides, perfectionism is a kind of loyalty too – loyalty to standards. Which is becoming more important these days, with mass commercial appeal being the watchword, and growing dissonance between the standards we set for the games we buy and the standards the people behind those games set for themselves. (BioWare proved that, quite adequately, with Dragon Age 2.)

Do you care enough about a series to support a new entry that carries on its lineage within reason?

Or do you care enough about the series’ standards to denounce that entry’s failings?

Either way, you care about something. Does that make you hardcore?


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