It has been said a thousand times. Everything is a competition. They wouldn't call it the human race if they didn't expect someone to win. It doesn't matter what you do, there is someone out there devoting time and energy to doing it better than you. Good at setting your watch? You wouldn't last a day on the Professional Watch Setter's League ?. In small enough subsets of society you can divide people into winners and losers. As the group grows and the competition becomes more fierce, you have to slice things up a little finer. Well, video games are serious business these days. That means a whole spectrum of mastery and dedication has been created. Unfortunately, like most such sliding scales that society builds for itself, it isn't very well defined. Well, we here at Brainlazy are as qualified as any to assign arbitrary labels to nebulous subsets of a social niche, so let's nail this thing down, shall we?
Nipping at the root of the gamer's food chain, the Anti-Gamer is in many ways the most visible portion. These are the Jack Thompsons, over-protective moms, and hyper conservatives of the world. Their motivations vary, ranging from a need for publicity to a desire to lay the blame for bad parenting upon something besides bad parents. They are a part of the gaming world in the same way that STD's are a part of reproduction: Unpleasant, unsightly, but unavoidable if you aren't careful. The most irritating aspects of the Anti-Gamer are their general ignorance of the thing they are so rabidly opposed to and the frequency with which they find themselves with the opportunity to spread that ignorance through mass media. The less destructive but no less irritating version of the Anti-Gamer is the sort who objects to games based not on moral grounds but on grounds of pointlessness. This hatred is most acute in regard to games that simulate a real world activity with a dedicated controller. Generally that means rhythm games, but no doubt if there was a surge of popularity in Super Bass Fishing, the cries of ?Why don't you just go fishing for real!?? would echo through the halls.
Technically the largest rung on the ladder, these are the people who couldn't care less about games. They may or may not be aware of games, but in any event, they don't play. They are differentiated from Anti-Gamers by being apathetic rather than hostile. They are no more opposed to video games than they are opposed to zebras. For the Non-Gamer, video games stopped evolving immediately after they first popped up on the radar. The atari style joystick motion is the pantomime for playing games, all game music is bloops and bleeps, and games are still coin operated. Whatever console gets the most commercial coverage is the name for all consoles. That means ?Nintendo? in the 90's, Playstation in the early aughts, and xbox in the late aughts. Regardless of the system in question, these folks will ask if you have the new ?mario,? and regardless of the answer will offer up the one and only anecdote they have that is even peripherally related to gaming until you nod and pray that they stop trying to relate.
One step up from the Non-Gamer is the casual gamer. There are technically two types of casual gamer. The first is the group who only plays casual games. These are people who find themselves with a little time to waste and with access to a web browser, cell phone, or handheld. Time for a few minutes of colorful blocks, flashing lights, bloops, bleeps, and stabs at high scores. Contrary to popular belief, the Casual Gamer can be very dedicated and skillful. Face it, any game with dirt simple gameplay and a high score indicator is a recipe for addiction. Many is a casual gamer who has stumbled out of the bathroom on two sleeping legs after a game of cell phone Tetris ran into two hundred line territory. The other type of Casual Gamer is the player who plays games casually. These folks have a gaming interest, but not any real motivation other than enjoyment. A casual player of games might get good at a game, but won't practice to get good. There are no strategy guides, no complex techniques. Just a few enjoyable hours. This slice of the pie is by far the least contentious and confrontational.
A noob (aka n00b, nub) is a newcomer to competitive gaming. Like a toddler taking its first steps, the noob stumbles and trips its way through each session. They don't know any of the secrets, have a low kill ratio, and generally don't contribute to the team. Every higher rung on this ladder has passed through noobhood at some point, but few will admit it. Generally techniques and strategies have only begun to take root, so expect a noob to cling to the simplest of them, much to the frustration of other players if doing so brings any level of success. Be nice to noobs, though, because from this point forward, the slightest misstep will slap this label on your forehead until you redeem yourself. Also, most other types of gamer will have dual citizenship in the nation of noob as well. Just as a hall of fame baseball player might suck at basketball, so might a Call of Duty master suck at Gran Turismo. Rare is the gamer who isn't a noob in at least some area.
Once a noob starts to get his chops, he graduates into a Serious Gamer. Skilled enough to contribute in a team game, and dedicated enough to improve and excel, Serious Gamer is the result of a sort of Gamer's puberty. This is the level at which video games have finally made the jump from interest and pastime to official hobby. It is also the last level where you probably won't get strange looks from non-gamers. Anti-Gamers already hate you, though. Be careful, by the way. You have to have at least have tried multiplayer with a hardcore gamer or higher in order to be officially considered a serious gamer. Most noobs think they are serious gamers until their first online deathmatch.
If games are a hobby for a Serious Gamer, for a Hardcore Gamer, they are a passion. This is the level of gamer that keeps a gaming PC built to at least the minimum requirements of modern games. You keep an eye on rankings, use voice chat where it is available and Team Speak when it isn't. You have a regular crew put together for every game in your rotation. You know who you can call when you need someone to tank for your raid, and you always keep your team buffed. Chances are you are on first name basis with the Gamestop guy, and he's probably on your friends list. All the better to keep tabs on your preorders and potentially score an import or two.
The Leet (1337) Gamer is the Sith to the Hardcore Gamer's Jedi. He is the first step into the dark side of gaming. The Leet Gamer has got the skills and will not pass up an opportunity to rub them in your face, hard. If you have been called a noob, chances are it was a Leet Gamer who said it. The Leet Gamer is a noob hunter, stalking his hapless prey and teabagging them relentlessly. Once you reach this level you can expect to fall victim to a host of typological impediments. Words like teh and suxors work their way into your vocabulary. If the media is to believed, this is the only kind of gamer that exists.
Once the Leet or Hardcore Gamer stops taking games too seriously and moves on to taking himself too seriously, he becomes a Gaming Elitist. This person does not have opinions, he has facts. The Gaming Elitist is prone to fanboyism, often for no reason other than to feed their ravenous appetite for telling other people that they are wrong. Games ceased to be about enjoyment long ago. Now they are about equal parts art and superiority. A PC exclusive gamer tends to head in this direction. After all, everyone knows that a game that lacks the precision of mouse and keyboard isn't worth playing, and that these millions and millions of people who are picking up that latest cliched piece of crap on the console don't know real gaming, and the sellouts who cater to the mindless masses are ruining gaming.
A Gaming Elitist knows better than you. A Gaming Snob is better than you. This final and most irritatingly superior level of gamer seldom even plays games due to impossibly high or, more accurately, impossibly specific standards that have not been reached since their childhood. ?Oh, what's that? You enjoyed Final Fantasy XII? Everyone knows that the nuanced story and perfectly balanced play mechanics of Final Fantasy II have never been topped. Oh, and that is the Japanese Final Fantasy II, not US Final Fantasy II, which was really Final Fantasy IV. Of course, you wouldn't know that, fneh fneh fneh.? The Gaming Snob will base their decision to play a game not on how fun it looks, how impressive the graphics are, or the reviews. The quality of the game is based entirely upon the artistic integrity of the production staff.
That should cover it. So, which rung are you on? As with all things here on Brainlazy, we'd love to hear your input. Did we miss the mark? Did we miss a rung? Join up and give us a shout.