Video Games and Difficulty

By Kyle S. - Tue Mar 22, 5:10 pm

Remember when video games were hard? Remember when you had to evolve your Charmander into Charmelion just to beat Brock? When it was nearly impossible to finish Donkey Kong Country 2 with 102%? When Ninja freaking Gaiden 1-3?

What happened? You got older. You got better. Video Games never got easier; you just got better. Arcades died. Difficulty wasn’t as important as they weren’t trying to eat all your coins. Limited lives vanished and were replaced by checkpoints and save states. You developed hand-eye coordination, the capacity for abstract thought and planning, and in certain cases, learned that the best way to handle clunky and counterintuitive controls and game mechanics is with patience.

Part of the fun is a good challenge. When I put in almost any game today, I have the expectation that I will beat it since it will have saves, checkpoints, unlimited lives, etc. When I bought a game as a kid I had no expectation of victory and there are plenty of games I played during my childhood I only managed to beat fairly recently. Video games being hard was a way for developers to try to stretch out the length of games and make you feel as though you were getting your 60 bucks worth.

Now they can actually fill it with content instead of artificial difficulty. However, I do agree that at times there is too much hand-holding in games now. Anyone worth their salt knows the phrase “Nintendo hard.”

Then again, challenging games aren’t exactly dead. Go play Demon’s Souls and see how badass you are getting shit on thirty minutes into your first playthrough.

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