Monthly Archives: October 2014

I recently read a tweet about somebody saying that they don’t play “hard” games, but they play games for enjoyment and entertainment. I found so many problems with this statement that I had to write some extended notes on the matter. There are so many problems with this statement that I cannot even comprehend it fully at once, but this statement is also semi-context-sensitive. If applied to a game that is too hard, or not enjoyable because of its difficulty, it isn’t because you aren’t a person who enjoys difficult games. This perpetuated mindset that difficulty is a gameplay mechanic is probably the most ignorant thing that people can pretend to know about. Allow me to elaborate.
A video game, in it’s purest form, is entertainment. It is just another entertainment medium, like film or literature. However, video games provide entertainment by presenting a player with a culmination of some sort of problem, visual and audio input, and player input to affect the world in which they’re experiencing. As a result, a boring game is one that fails to include one of these three elements in some capacity. Saying that you don’t enjoy difficult games doesn’t make any sense because there is no such thing as a person who exclusively enjoys difficult games. Video games differ in difficulty for a very deliberate reason, and that reason can vary between games; explaining all of them would take far too long, so I won’t elaborate on that specific note. However, it should be noted that good game design is to challenge the player in order to keep them entertained; aka, make a good game. Every single game is hard in its own way. It is literally the purpose of the game to provide a challenge to the player. This is why games that fail to provide a challenge get boring, and subsequently marked down as easily lost interest in.
That being said, anybody can enjoy a difficult game. However, if a game being too difficult causes displeasure for the player, then it wasn’t designed and paced properly. Difficulty in video games should scale, so that new players are not polarized by the challenge, and returning players can fly past stages which they’ve mastered. People who make the ignorant generalization that they don’t like difficult games have probably either been spoiled by easy games and never tried games that pose more of a challenge than the bare minimum for keeping interest, or were scared off by a game that wasn’t appropriately paced. Difficulty scaling is extremely important in games, but it exists in every single game, even the “arthouse” games. In Gone Home, the difficulty exists in the player’s own mind, by taking everything in, and trying to put the pieces together. In Braid, it exists in the narrative which the game presents, but also in the challenge of the puzzles. Difficulty exists everywhere, you just need to know where to look.
Concluding this rather long extension of my thoughts, people should not be perpetuating this notion of not being enjoying a difficult experience. It defies logic and only gives other people this ignorant idea. They usually picked this up, again, from the polarized experience with a game that wasn’t properly scaled in its challenge, or from just ignorance alone, and believing anything they read or hear without thinking it through.
tl;dr : People who make this statement are dumb and should realize that hard games include every single video game in existence until you apply an adjective to the word “hard.”