"Back in the day there were no checkpoints or difficulty levels, you died and died til you learned the patterns, it was pure skill"
I've heard that a lot on various gaming sites from various gamers.
Mention games that caused massive controller breaking rage due to difficulty and you'll hear, Battle Toads, Contra, Ninja Gaiden. Now people will say Demon's Souls and Dark Souls.
You'll also hear some gamers proclaim that these games measure a "true gamer". Only a "true gamer" can get through these incredibly hard games and anyone who can't isn't a real gamer.
As gaming evolves and embraces more people from all walks of life, the definition, if there ever was one definition, of gamer also evolves and changes. This means that games have to adapt to the influx of gamers, not the other way around.
I've had discussions before with gamers about game difficulty. I have said before and I will say again, I usually start a game on Normal difficulty but I ain't too proud to go Easy if I need to. I game to relax, to immerse myself in different worlds and do things I can't do in real life (like throw fireballs or rip someone's arm off and beat them with it...we'll talk about violence in games some other time though). Gaming is a large part of who I am but the difficulty I play at doesn't define me as a person. My life creed is "if your entertainment stops being entertaining and fun, its time to move on". So, for me gaming is entertainment, its stress relief, its fun.
During these conversations I've had with others I've been told that playing a game on easy is pointless and a waste of money. That playing on Easy defeats the designer's and developer's game mechanics and point. I've even been told that if I'm just going to play on Easy I should just watch a movie instead.
First is that obvious question...how do my gaming habits affect someone else? Obvious answer, they don't.
Second is, If the game comes with an Easy or even a Very Easy option, it means that the developer put it in there, so I'm not ruining their artistic vision. "But Dark Souls" you'll say...Yes, what about it? "It has no difficulty options"...Yes, what's your point? I don't play Dark Souls, because its too difficult and frustrating.
Obviously These games were intended to be punishingly hard. Many people will play them and love them, many people will not. The developers were aware of this and chose to go this route. I respect that, but I won't spend my money on their games. I won't spend hour upon hour in growing frustration replaying bits of the game and memorizing patterns and enemy locations because, after all is said and done and I reach the end, what have I proved? My skill? My ability to control rage? My determination? Perhaps, but overall I've proven nothing except that I'm a masochist. There is no glorious prize at the end of the rainbow except bragging rights. If I complete these games I can say "I FINISHED THIS GAME!!! KNEEL BEFORE ZOD!" Which truly changes nothing in my life at all or yours, or anyone elses.
"But you feel accomplished when you complete a hard game"
I squeezed out 3 kids, I already feel accomplished. I managed to get my fat ass outta bed today, I feel very accomplished thank you.
I played Hakuoki Demon of the Fleeting Blossom 7 times recently. Its an Otome game. A text adventure game for women. Though honestly, I think its a great story that everyone should play but I digress. Obviously, a text adventure isn't difficult, yet I feel accomplished. Because I played through all possible outcomes. I also learned a hell of a lot of history as well. Does anyone care that I finished 7 times? Not really. Did I enjoy the game, very much so. THAT is the important part.
I. ENJOYED. IT.
Right now Gaming is like the damn Gold Rush. Thanks to Facebook and the Wii and Smartphones and Tablets people of all ages (and some rally smart pets) can be introduced to the joys of gaming. Whether you consider a Facebook game a "real game" or Angry Birds, the fact of the matter is they ARE games, they are interactive media, they are entertainment. Gamers are no longer those people that dedicated weeks to memorizing the exact pattern to the final level of Battletoads. Gamers are Elementary School kids, That little old lady that walks her Sheltie past your house twice a day, your homeroom teacher.
In my opinion these people are TRUE Gamers because they don't care about leaderboards or trophies, they don't need to prove their skills, they play these games, these apps, these time wasters for entertainment, for fun, to pass the time.
Here's the thing Video Games are GAMES. The first definition of Game in the dictionary is: 1. An activity providing entertainment or amusement; a pastime.
Nowhere does it say: a frustrating enterprise that might result in rage or tears.
You know why I game on easy instead of watching a movie?
Cause I fucking feel like it. Because I want to BE in the story playing an active role. That role could be picking choices in a "choose your own adventure" type game or kicking alien ass in Mass Effect. Nowhere does it state that my role in the story has to be difficult, painful or frustrating. That's what I game for, so my character, my Avatar can go through drama while I eat Doritos during the dramatic cutscenes and stab things with pointy things in between.
Does that make me less of a gamer? No. By definition I play games, therefore I am a gamer.
"But", you might say, "you're really not bringing anything new to the debate. If you don't wanna play on hard that's fine why are you calling people who do masochists? Why are you taking issue with them if you expect them not to care about how you game."
Because I'm a hypocrite, we've established this in numerous blog posts.
But, not only that, Because in these discussions, not only are the people who play on easy decried as posers, but, there's a general call from the "hardcore" to do away with easier game settings. They demand you "go hard or go home".
See THAT is when I get my knickers in a twist
You wanna be a masochist? You feel a great sense of self worth for beating a game that made you break controllers, scream, rage, waste hours upon hours to get through a single boss. Yo, knock yourself out. I. Don't. Give. A. Shit.
You wanna put an end to "Easy" settings because you think playing on hard somehow makes you better? Fuck. You.
There you go, that's my reason for being a hypocrite and getting all up in other gamers' faces about difficulty. Cause playing on nightmare doesn't make you better than a gamer that plays on easy. Because you're forgetting that games are supposed to be a pastime, a FUN pastime and playing on difficult isn't fun for a lot of people. Because I'm sick of gaming on easy being equal to watching a movie. I don't know about you but, I didn't get to punch anyone or use a batarang once while pretending to be Batman ONCE while watching The Dark Knight. But I did get to do that playing Arkham Asylum, on Easy.
BTW...I have Demons' Souls...it makes an excellent frisbee for my dogs.