Gaming has become big business, of this there is no doubt. Few would argue that video games are not a major force in the entertainment world. But with the rise in popularity comes an ebb in challenging games for the so-called “hardcore” crowd. Indeed, as more and more casual gamers enter the market, games are being streamlined, dumbed-down or made to be even easier than normal. There are many who are upset about this. But I say: so what?
Gaming is a business and it doesn’t pay to make your customers feel stupid or inadequate, unless you are MTV, of course. If a person pays $60 for a video game, they want to experience as much of it as possible. Having supremely difficult enemies or puzzles doesn’t do anything for the publisher in terms of making money, so why shouldn’t they do what they can to level the playing field and ensure that every potential consumer has a meaningful experience with their product?
I know, I know: I can hear the so-called hardcore already, crying about the death of challenging video games. But you know what? Those types of games died a long time ago. When was the last time you were really challenged by a game? It happens, to be sure, but it is a rare event. Sure, you can jack up the difficulty level, but that usually just makes things feel cheap: enemies come with tons of health and apparently they all are equipped with the Golden Gun, as one shoot usually does you in. Beating games like this is more of an exercise in patience and sadomasochism than any discernible skill involving video games.
Besides, some of the complaining about games being too easy usually end up on a message board devoted to discussing tips on games, such as GameFaqs. People go to these sites, learn exploits to farm gold, experience or whatever they need and then conveniently forget all about it when it comes time to brag:”Yeah, dude, I totally whipped Mass Effect 2’s ass and I only used the experience glitch 12 times, unlike those noobs out there who did it 13 times.” So you found all 200 pigeons in Grand Theft Auto IV? Words can’t express how little I care about such a mundane achievement, although I am glad you got your money’s worth out of the game.
The same is true of strategy guides. It defeats the purpose of playing Final Fantasy if you have a guide that you keep on your lap, barely looking up at the TV as you navigate your character to all the different treasure chests hidden to the naked eye. Oh and that super-ultra hard boss, Omega Weapon? One-hit killed him, thanks to careful use of an item that no one in their right mind would think to use on an enemy. I buy guides for some games, but only use them when stuck or after I beat them, so I can go back and find all the things I missed.
Now, this doesn’t apply to all gamers, so calm down if you are getting offended at reading this, thinking I am talking about you. Actually, if this offends you, it’s probably because it strikes a nerve, so maybe I am talking about you. But it doesn’t matter, in the end, does it? Why should you care how other people play their game, as long as it doesn’t affect you, just as it shouldn’t bother someone else how you play your game. We are talking about single-player games here for the most part and not online games where griefing is prevalent. That’s a whole different issue.
And don’t give me any BS about Trophies or Achievements because, cool as they may be, they are not indicative of anything regarding a person’s skill. Sure, a few of them do take some true elite playing to get, but most of them are trial and error, testing your willingness to play the same game much longer than you would normally. How many people are still trying to get the Achievement in Halo: Reach where you kill an elite by assassinating him after jumping off a cliff? I tried it twice and moved on with my life. Getting the right circumstances to align properly in order to reach (haha) that goal is almost random chance than anything else. But if you want to try it for 2 days straight, then may the Force be with you, my friend.
Part of the reason that games are now considered easier is that game design in the old days was pretty poor. Enemies were overpowered, controls were imprecise, level design was a nightmare and you didn’t have a decent checkpoint system for most games. How many games do you remember playing where jumping seemed like the most difficult thing to do successfully? That’s not the mark of a great game, but of poor design, which was understandable back in the NES days, but only to a certain extent. After all, Super Mario Bros tight controls is why that game is still highly playable even 25 years later.
What all this boils down to is that games are as hard or as easy as you want to make them. My cousin insists that any gun in Call of Duty that isn’t a single-shot assault rifle is too noobish for him. But then, he is 15 and he has the time and energy to waste caring about such things. For gamers on the go, like myself, something like the SCAR-H is perfect for all my killing needs, especially when you absolutely, positively have to kill everyone in the room. Accept no substitutes.
To conclude as best I can: games are meant to be fun. If someone wants throw a game on Very Easy and play, why should it matter to you? If you ever play against that person head to head, odds are you will win the day. If publishers like Nintendo want to include something like the Super Guide, which will play part of a level for you if you die 9 times on said level, who are you to complain? If you are so elite, don’t die 9 times on one level! I beat New Super Mario Bros Wii without ever having the option presented to me, thus retaining my honor as a hardcore gamer.
But you know what? I played Ghostbusters on Easy mode. Why? Two reasons: the first being that I mainly wanted to see the story and experience the game without getting stuck or frustrated and the second because I ain’t afraid of no one calling me a noob simply because I chose to make one game easier on myself. And you shouldn’t either.. These days, if you want a harder game, you have to seek it out, like Demon’s Souls or Ninja Gaiden. Most games are pretty easy to complete. In fact, one could say that you can play them casually. So try to relax when it comes to things like this and remember: games are entertainment. Are you not entertained???