Mobile gamers challenge stereotypes about heavyweight ‘gamer’

Mobile games are largest game segment by revenue, but it’s also one of the most misunderstood by self-proclaimed “gamers”. I know this first because for several years I play games on my phone more often than I do on PC or console. I find gacha games mechanically enjoyable, have other friends playing them and feel the same sense of accomplishment as I do in any game. Pokémon game.

Except they’re not what I’m really talking about. In the gaming community, the anime gacha game is seen as a cheap lottery for those who are thirsty for anime rather than feeling. However, that description doesn’t fit the gacha players I know in real life. They are programmers and administrative assistants. They are university students and school teachers. And many of them were master strategists in the matches they played.

Although often referred to as “normal”, many mobile game players follow in-game events, minimizing using custom tools and studying the tactics of the streamers to improve their gaming ability. They think about mobile games on a deeply strategic level, and the games they’re playing require as much investment as games played by mainstream console players.

This is because fully leveling up a character in a gacha game can take anywhere from weeks to months. And not all leveling materials can be collected every day. Usually one material can only be grown on Mondays and another can only be grown on Tuesdays.

A Genshin Impact hero unleashes magical attacks on enemies.

Screenshots: miHoYo / Kotaku

One The Genshin effect players I’ve talked to even create their own spreadsheets to “enhance” their characters. Each character has only two abilities, which makes the game look pretty simple. It cannot. Characters have unique synergies with other party members, and characters can be built differently using equipable “artifact sets”. Build strong characters in Genshin it has as much to do with long-term planning as it does about button-mashing skills.

“I keep my own spreadsheet that I made, [which is] It’s color coded, and it has all of my characters and their levels and their current progress with the required talents, upgrade materials for each character, and weapons. And then it has a second page with their artifact sets, allowing me to get all the stats… Just looking at it all in one place, I really feel like I’m lacking. where left. ”

Arknights is a gacha game that usually doesn’t require quick reaction times, with more focus on strategy and moment-to-moment foresight. This tower defense game is popular with Min, Natalie, and Jesse, three strategically minded players I talked to. In addition to having to understand character locations and the process of real-time battles, Arknights Players have to figure out a strategy to level up their character. Like using a spreadsheet Genshin players, Jesse likes to actively plan to improve Arknights character’s abilities using community-generated tools. Such tools are not strictly necessary to play the game (I do not use them), but they are an indication of a commitment to regularly playing these mobile games.

“Sometimes I will look at the stats and use Game Press Planner, [which helps] Min said. “And I’ll just spend my time like it’s making a plan in my head for how to promote my next moderator… usually it’s a newcomer and it takes a lot of work to get into my current roster. ”

Get new characters in Arknights involves a lot of strategy even for the vast majority of players that don’t spend anything on its microtransactions. In addition to the premium gacha system, the game also has a completely free gacha that allows players to use “recruit licenses” to get random characters. By combining specific fighter-specific cards such as “AoE” and “healer”, players can improve their odds of winning a particular character (or ensure a higher rarity reduction). ).

Min and Jesse were dedicated to maximizing these licenses even after they had collected all the characters. More than simply collecting every character through the free gacha, Jesse even aims to max out the rare cards to get enough money to buy the free monthly store.

Min doesn’t just use a fan as computerbut there is a lot of information to be memorized.

“But for the ones I haven’t memorized, I’ll look into it Aceship,” they said. “For a lot of the farming stages for the materials I usually farm, I’ve kept those stages in mind. This spreadsheet used to help me.”

Battle of Arknights takes place on a tactical grid.

Screenshots: Hypergryph / Kotaku

It should be noted that there are 25 different cards in the free gacha and 25 different farmable materials. While gacha games often make it easy to access this information in-game, players often have to internally combine many complex economic systems to play well, as well as knowledge such as rare materials. equippable and must be traded through a rarer material combination.

When I talk to Arknights players, they don’t seem to realize how authoritative their gaming knowledge really is. I played Arknights weekly to daily for almost half a year, and I can’t recall the card combinations that rarely popped up in my head. For longtime players, these game “rules” come naturally, in the same way I can immediately recall. Pokémon chart type. But they became experts without GameFAQs, IGN official strategy guidelines and guidelines.

When The Genshin effect has seen an increase in published guides, most English game news sites do not store gameplay information for mobile games. In their absence, community guides and streamers fill the void. Arknights The players I spoke with are quoted KyoStinV, Eckogen, I love Amiyaand kukkikaze as streamers helped them get through tough stuff. One player, Natalie, enjoys watching tutorial videos, but they also love watching live streamers like 777ucky and IronCobra take on challenges, including some based on “Nuzlocke“The permadeath rule is popular among Pokémon player. This culture of community-generated tutorials also exists on other mobile games. Olivia, an interviewee plays the rhythm game gacha Love Live! School Idol Festival, tell me she used a combination of wikis, fansites, and Reddit to remove in-game content.

However, Min has strong feelings about players who rely too much on YouTube tutorials instead of learning the game.

“Some people rely too much on [guides] and don’t know how to think strategically about what they’re doing…” they said. “Way [one YouTuber] explain that it helped me like this: I should probably think about this for myself, because the fun of Arknights comes from implementing your own strategy. ”

Natalie, too, is not content with simply reviving influencer strategies. They have two Arknights Accounts. On one account, they are dedicated to leveling up the best characters in the game and clearing it as fast as they can. On the second account, they use less powerful units to learn how to play unique strategies.

Most of the players I talked to used to play a few hours a day and were very consistent about making mobile gaming a part of their daily routine.

“I have a positive background [in Love Live!, and], I didn’t want to break it,” Olivia said. “I put in a lot of effort, so I want to maintain it.”

Screenshot showing the game from Love Live! School Idol Festival.

Screenshots: KLabs

Considering the amount of time some people go through optimizing their gaming experience, I’m curious as to why they don’t consider themselves “gamer”. Their responses provide a fascinating insight into what “game” means to unidentified players.

As for Jesse, the gaming community is known to have no sympathy for mobile game players like them. “The games I play are single-player, casual, and are the kind of games that are looked down upon by gamers.”

Several players have mentioned concerns about “just” playing one game, as opposed to playing many different games. For context: live service mobile games can be so time consuming that it’s very difficult to keep a lot of games going. Myself, I’ve compromised to update some mobile games: I’ll only log in during major events or story updates. But all the players I talked to logged into their favorite game every day.

Other interviewees said that they do not have time to play console games as often as they would like. Most of the people I spoke to mentioned that they have real-life commitments to prevent them from spending more time playing games. Three of my interviewees specifically mentioned that they had never owned a gaming PC before.

Natalie explains why they don’t identify with gaming despite already owning a Nintendo handheld.

“My priorities are different,” they said. “When the Switch came out, a lot of people got it right away. I still don’t have a Switch and I’m way behind the times. I still play the games I played 15 years ago, I still have [Gameboy Advance]and the game still works. I don’t update, I don’t predict releases or consoles, and I don’t care about hardware. ”

I’m a bit caught off guard with this assertion, as all of my interviewees are regularly updated with in-game events. And since the new character earning system in the gacha game is random, they know parts of the gameplay meta better than I do. Despite Natalie’s assertion that they don’t keep up with game news, updating game news and discussions is the only way to know which resource-intensive characters are worth the investment.

These mobile players meet the basic definition of what a “gamer” is. The complexity casual mechanical gamer Monitor and strategize the most impactful, self-determined gamers have learn or adapt them is the top “heavyweight” The franchise revolves around free-to-play models. However, members of the heavyweight “gaming” community often seem to define themselves by the consoles they own, as seen in the protracted “war” among Xbox fans. and PlayStation.

I understand why mobile games have such a bad reputation. All the most popular ones have microtransactions, causing “hardcore” gamers to worry that they will erode traditional single-player games. And I believe it is important to always be critical about how the free play is implemented.

But for too long, media discussions about mobile games have overlooked the human component: the actual players. Every mobile game has millions of players with their own victories and defeats, their own languages, their own norms and community behaviour. Mobile players have slightly different habits than PC and console players, but they are gaming in their own way. Their games aren’t inherently bad, and they consciously choose to play games that fit their busy lives. It’s time for PC and console players to learn to respect that. Mobile gamers challenge stereotypes about heavyweight ‘gamer’

Curtis Crabtree

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