Elites & Noobs: The Great Gaming Divide

hardcore gamerGaming 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.

FF GuideThe 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.

Super GuideTo 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???

Written by

Age: 34 PSN ID: Starkiller81. I've played games since before I can remember, starting with my dad's Atari and I haven't stopped yet. Keep them coming and I will keep playing them.

6 thoughts on “Elites & Noobs: The Great Gaming Divide”

  1. Guys. Difficulty Levels. Honestly, it DOES solve the issue. I personally keep the difficulty normal-to-easy when playing single player games because I want to enjoy the story without getting bogged down, and then I’ll go back afterwards and play through it on a harder difficulty. Making a game based around one difficulty level, whether easy or hard, is just not a good idea. It limits your audience and makes the game more irritating. If a game is too easy, people who want a challenge will get bored or probably not even buy the game in the first place. If the game is too hard, you’re alienating a lot more people who’d rather not have their soul ripped out of them, if they even buy the game at all. If players can enjoy a game on either easy, medium, or hard, that let’s them be in charge of how much opposition they’ll run into. Give the player some choice and a large enough range of difficulties and you won’t have to worry about the difficulty issue.

  2. Amen Anthony. A game like Super Mario World gradually grew harder as you moved on because gaps grew bigger, enemies became more frequent or larger … That was why as you moved on, you continually felt challenged. With an open world game like Oblivion / Fallout, they have to have enemies get “stronger” as you rank up because you could wander to any point of the game at any time… It really does defeat the purpose.

    But, I do play most games on normal or easy, because I am only playing them for the story. However, I do like Deus Ex (yeah, I know I bring it up a lot). Once again, way ahead of it’s time with Easy, Medium, Hard and Realistic. Realistic being actually worth it since the game was based so heavily in stealth. Shot in the head? Yeah, you die. Legs get shot out? Yeah, you can’t stand or run. Perfect.

  3. Great article Anthony. Thankfully I’ve never had to put up with much of the “Why do you play games on easy? Wheres the challenge?” crap. If I did, I would point them to this article, brilliantly summed up.

  4. I don’t mind games being a bit easy from time to time. What I do take issue with is if they NEVER challenge me. Zelda’s combat rarely ever causes me problems, but it’s the puzzles and figuring out where to go is the challenge. Likewise with Fallout. VATS amkes the combat easy, but also enjoyable. It’s the exploration in that game that made me enjoy it.
    FPS’s on the other hand tend to provide that level of difficulty either just right, or the extremes (either way). Call of Dutys have a balanced enough difficulty levels (bar Veteran. Fuck you W@W) which can cater for both hardcore AND casual gamers. Borderlands was also quite easy I found (on my own or with co-op partners) but the loot, the OTT action, the humour and the commaraderie more than made up for it.

  5. First I have got to say how Ironic it is that I’ve used that first picture in one of my own blogs XD.
    Secondly, I would have to say that I don’t really care for if a game is either easy or hard, or if someone is a noob or not. I remember being horrible at all PS2 games, and my friend would stomp me at them, for example Battlefront 1/2, but I had fun none-the-less, and he didn’t care about how good I was, just that we played. Of course, now I’m amazing at the game, but regardless.
    And, I just beat Black Ops on Recruit, so that I could see how well the story was and get “Five”, and I don’t care if it was wicked easy or not, it was still a great experience.

  6. Great article here, Anthony! I actually think it’s an interesting discussion that people are always bringing up the super old difficult games, when you’re right, many of them were probably just designed poorly. When I was younger, I had the time for that kind of mind-numbing and controller-destroying challenge, but these days, you have to balance a game just so for it to be a healthy difficulty.

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