I have been listening to the Fear The Boot podcast for a few weeks now. The podcast is focused on table top role playing games, something I have not done for a good 15 years, but which I have fond memories of. They have a good format, the hosts are fun to listen to, and they go through a lot of stuff that brings back happy memories. (And many embarrassed ones… all my GM’ing sins remembered!)
As a group, they are not at the LARP end of the gaming scale by any means, but they do put an emphasis on character development, interaction, and story line.
One of the terms they use for play styles that differ from their own is Power Gamer. A power gamer is somebody who focuses on “winning” the game (which there is, arguably, no way to do in a role playing game) by maximizing their character stats, equipment, loot, and anything else the power gamer may see as desirable. For those interested in delving into the topic role (roll) playing power gamers, I would recommend The Munchkin’s Guide to Power Gaming from Steve Jackson Games.
So when I read a great post on Mystic Worlds last night about an exchange between the author and her son regarding raiding, epics, and the importance of the “casual” gamer in World of Warcraft, my first thought was “power gamer.”
We have them too in our MMORPGs. They do not always get that title, but they often net out to the same thing.
I am, in some ways, the anti-power gamer. I have had power gamer friends and guild mates get irate at me for rolling yet another alt, spending time running down low reward quests, doing trade skills (unless, of course, they need something I make), exploring, showing up for a raid or a zone with crappy equipment, not levelling fast enough, and generally just wandering off the power gaming path in what I can only guess they see as a rejection of the true faith.
I do not mean to antagonize the power gamers, really. I respect the time and dedication it takes to be a power gamer. They know what they want. They know how to get it. They are willing to put in the time to do so. I have just found that when I stop listening to them I have a much better time playing.
So what am I then, if not a power gamer? What label can be slapped upon me?
I am not a role player. Not, that is not my thing either. This is another group I respect. I try to make character names that won’t completely break somebody’s role playing immersion. (Really, I think about that. I was on the border with Blintz, but then felt, at least for a dwarf, that was acceptable. I’m not so certain when it comes to a fae.) When grouped with them I tend to conform and role play as well, in my own awkward way. But it is not an activity which I seek out. Not often, anyway.
What else is there? Not that I need a label, but I wonder if there is one. Saying what you are not does not say what you are.
Casual is correct in some sense, but I am pretty dedicated to gaming to be casual. Having a regular instance night, not to mention the play time numbers I have, make casual as far off the base as power gamer.
Tourist? (All those screen shots.) Reporter? (Maybe a bit, of late.) Archeologist? (What am I doing back in EQ?)
I will have to think about this some more. Meanwhile I will go back to having fun playing games.