On the recent Gamer’s With Jobs podcast with Tim Schafer he brought up the idea of the executive gamer. I’m not sure where it is on that weeks’ podcast, but on this weeks GWJ there’s a great discussion of what it means starting at about 53:10.
Basically its about people who play games while thinking about the play experience rather than simply, well, playing the game. I think it refers to most of us, and plenty of people passionate about games, but I don’t think it applies to all hardcore gamers.
An example in my life was playing Oblivion. Once I got the hang of the fundamental mechanics, I enjoyed them for about 5 hours before I started seeing how they were limiting me, and started modding the game to better suit my desires. According to Xfire I’ve played Oblivion for more than 200 hours, but I’ve got to say that much of that time was spent interacting with the game-world in an incredibly executive way. I was thinking about mechanics, and possibility spaces within the game, and how my various mods changed those things, and for the most part I was using my play time to explore those ideas instead of simply being immersed in the experience.
I highlight that not because it’s a radical idea, but to take note of it. Being an ‘executive player’ is about playing a game at a distance. And there’s plenty of joy to be gained from it, but its interesting to think how many games I play that are fundamentally about the interactions of mechanics, rather than the story of my play. CoD4 was a game I played with a low degree of remove; I was immersed in the story of it and the moment-to-moment interactions FAR more than I was during Oblivion. I’ve also been playing Xcom recently, and that type of game encourages a level of remove, as do all tactically/strategically-minded games.
So, anyway, I think the idea is interesting, and HIGHLY encourage anyone interested in it to check out the section of the GWJ podcast I mentioned above.