This is the last in an 11-part series. To start from the beginning, read part one: "What We Talk About When We Talk About Games." Or read the previous post, "Tying It All Together."
Employing this new taxonomy, we're able to discuss games without resorting to a simplistic rubric in which games either suck or rule. And we're able to see gamers as a lot more than simply hardcore or casual. Instead of talking past each other when we're coming at games from fundamentally different perspectives, we'll be able to seek common ground and at least disagree with one another from a place of understanding.
Again, I'm not suggesting that we simply slap labels on people and let that take the place of constructive dialogue, especially because nobody is likely to fit neatly into one category or another. In particular, Premium and Wholesale Players aren't necessarily in separate groups as much as they are points along a continuum. Thinking seriously about your own inclinations can give new focus to what you like and why.
For myself, I'm predominantly a Tourist. To the extent that I have any Skill traits, Completism ranks high above Perfectionism. On the value scale, I'm more of a Premium Player than a Wholesale Player. Now that I know this, it explains a lot about myself that I had never been able to concretize before -- like why I preferred Ratchet and Clank Future to Super Mario Galaxy.
Ratchet and Clank is almost all Tourist events: fairly rudimentary combat, lots of jokes and well-produced cutscenes, and unique platforming elements from one world to the next. The Completist aspect consists of searching for hidden golden bolts and the secret components of a weapon schematic, but these parts are fully optional. Powering up each of Ratchet's individual weapons is also a Completist factor, but because this happens as a result of simply playing through the game, it's a side benefit to the Tourist. Perfectionism doesn't really factor in.
Super Mario Galaxy, on the other hand, is primarily Completist and secondarily Tourist. It's close, which is why I did enjoy the game quite a bit. But I could never quite shake the feeling that I wasn't loving it as much as I should have. The reason is that collecting stars is the objective of the game, and experiencing all those wonderful galaxies supports that aim. You don't have to collect all the stars, but to advance through the main story you do have to revisit the same places over and over and pick up most of them.
On the value tip, Ratchet was fairly short, and although there was some optional content (like the battle arena rounds), for the most part it was a linear, narrative game. That fits it comfortably on the Premium end of the scale. Mario Galaxy is similarly short for the main game, but since collecting about half the stars is optional, that puts it on the Wholesale side of the divide. As before, it's not so much that Mario is fully one kind of game or another -- it's that the parts of it to which I responded most strongly were usually not the most salient ones.
This isn't to say that I fully eschew Perfectionist games, either. Some games, like and Ninja Gaiden and Devil May Cry, are so difficult that they require the rigorous effort a Perfectionist craves. These games also have so much to offer my Tourist nature that I play them as a Perfectionist without even realizing it. That doesn't mean I achieve an S ranking -- or even care to -- just that it takes a greater level of effort to beat these games than I'd ordinary be willing to commit.
None of what I've written here is intended to be the final word. In fact, I hope it's only the first step toward a broader and more constructive gaming conversation. There's much more to be said, and probably better than I've said it. I'll consider this series successful not if people adopt the terms I've suggested, but if it inspires anybody to think more critically about the way they play. That's the critical next step for games to achieve cultural relevance.
I cede the floor to you, readers. What are your thoughts?