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Video Games Shouldn’t Be Hard, It Can’t Be Easy Either

An online writer who is also an avid geek to automotive, video games, and anime. Have a soft spot for racing games

An example of recent hard video game is Cuphead, a run and gun game

An example of recent hard video game is Cuphead, a run and gun game

When did you feel a video game is hard? When did you feel you can no longer accomplish the game due to such difficulty? Do you wish the developer should make it easier?

The debate whether video games should be easy or hard is pretty interesting. It peaked when recent games such as Dark Souls series, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, and Cuphead being criticized for being “too difficult”. Ask people about the question to a random group of people and you will receive various answers.

Those who argue about the former will point out how everyone should be able to play the game. The latter, however, will state that taking numerous deaths and longer completion time is how a video game is meant to be played.

From Software's Dark Souls is known for its brutally difficult gameplay

From Software's Dark Souls is known for its brutally difficult gameplay

The keyword here is accessibility. How a video game welcomes players of any skill level, from inexperienced newbies to hardcore and skilled gamers. This is exhibited by two factors: game design and difficulty.

A video game must be accessible by gamers in general. This is a general consensus. It should be playable for any player, even though it means that the developer has to nerf a supposedly hard level or lower the skill barrier.

It is necessary for video game companies to include easy difficulty or making a game easier when it comes to increasing accessibility to players. After all, not all players dedicating their time to sitting in front of TV trying to beat a game. Sometimes all they want to do is relaxing after work by playing a video game without being burdened by any complexity the game has.

However, we must acknowledge that not all developers think “pick up and play” games are a cup of tea. Not all video games all designed with lower skill ceiling and high accessibility in mind. Some video games embrace hard difficulty and learning curves as parts of video game experience.

As expected from a From Software game, Sekiro is also notorious for its hard difficulty

As expected from a From Software game, Sekiro is also notorious for its hard difficulty

Some developers demand you to struggle to play the game. In other words, you must take hard times to advance. You are "forced" to take a much longer time to eventually master the game. In the end, there is the satisfaction you will get when you, say, beat the hardest boss or a difficult mission in one try.

There is also concern over making the game easier or adding hints might ruin the whole game experience. Indeed, some games will not be the same game without challenging and frustrating features. A Souls game, for example, isn’t the same without game levels that make you stressed out instantly.

Nevertheless, difficulty always exists as video game companies want us to play the game more. Regardless of accessibility, challenges are designed to make us learn then progress the game, spending longer game hours. The result is the experience as the developers intend, and we can’t help but be subjected to such.

© 2021 Muhammad Azka Prasetya

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