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Yes, Games Are Easier, And I Say Thank God For That

Of course video games have gotten easier over the years. But if they hadn't, I probably wouldn't be playing them today.

I was there during the dawn of gaming when the hardcore and dedicated were rewarded with super high scores. I recall the fits of rage certain friends would fly into when playing certain games, and completing certain levels earned one a badge of honor. Of course, that badge of honor was only recognized by the other gamer geeks (the girls never cared) but hey, it was a niche hobby. Now gaming is mainstream and as a result, if developers and publishers wish to make any money, they need to make their products accessible.

I would think that much is obvious. But beyond that, think about a few other factors: Firstly, video games have every chance of innovating on a continual basis and these days, it's more and more about the experience. Journey is a perfect example; you can't die and you aren't penalized for having slow reactions. You merely indulge and enjoy the atmosphere and experience and perhaps unsurprisingly, this almost surreal adventure has gone over very well with critics and gamers alike. But there's a more logical issue to consider as well.

Firstly, the number of games that arrive in any given year today vastly outstrips that of yesteryear. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that five times as many titles arrived in 2011 as compared to 1991. On top of which, as opposed to the years when half the titles on shelves were just comical crap, one could go so far as to say the majority of games released today are perfectly playable. At the very least, we get way more titles that are well worth diving into, and most of us don't have the time to play them all. We definitely don't want to waste hours trying to master one level in one game. There are other things to play.

Time is the last common sense issue. As the average age of a gamer continues to rise, the average amount of time a fan has to play drops. People get older, have lives, and assume responsibilities that preclude entertainment. Gaming isn't just for kids coming home after school anymore, and many times, it's just about an adult unwinding and relaxing. That being the case, these games had better not be anything like they were a few decades ago. Nobody I know would play them and that's that. I wouldn't, either.

Tags: video games, gaming culture, easy games, hardcore games

4/5/2012 9:19:56 PM Ben Dutka

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Legacy Comment System (28 posts)

Thursday, April 05, 2012 @ 9:58:35 PM

I completely agree, while I don't want a game that's too easy I really don't want to be frustrated.

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Thursday, April 05, 2012 @ 10:02:07 PM

I appreciate and enjoy a wide range of games, some challenging, others emotive, others care free and simple. It's best that gaming can appeal to a huge range of interests. In my many years or gaming and the many gamers I've encountered I've seen a very broad range of primary motivators behind engaging interactive entertainment. It'd be interesting to see emperical data from sample groups as to what motivates game players to play games that considers factors such as age, difficulty, narrative, competition and social interaction.
My favorite game types are derived from highly detailed gameplaying fundamentals and competitive interaction. Not necessarily hard games, but detailed and in depth games. Games that are fundamentally games at their core and not a something too far derivative.

I do hate, however, the dumbing down and simplification of fundamentally complicated game design for the sake of broadening the appeal of an established franchise.

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Friday, April 06, 2012 @ 8:46:54 AM

Something I want to add, as an adult with many obligations of my time I find it more important that a game allows for save anywhere or frequent checkpoints. It's one of the reasons me and fighting games get along so well. I can get all of the intense and highly detailed competitive excitement but engage it incrementally if necessary.

Last night when playing NG3 on Master Ninja I was really enjoying myself, even with many deaths. Problem is, after fighting a massive amount of dudes, I mean MASSIVE, I still hadn't encountered a save point. So it absolutely sucks when after an hour or so of playing that I have to shut off my PS3 and lose all of my soft checkpoints.

I say the challenging games that I love need many checkpoints for busy adults.

As for difficulty and dieing, I think that is largely based on the motivator. If a person plays a content driven game, a game that is more about the messages it conveys, it'll frustrate the player to stop progression, where the actual game playing can become an obstacle for the greater desire to seeing or feeling what comes next. Other gamers enjoy games for the solving of the problem, where death is only a process of understanding and not a means to frustrate story progression. Where the solving of a problem brings immense gratification, the joy, not necessarily pride, is felt for achievement.
Demons Souls, for example, is a game I know that gamers who love methodical game design and "figuring it out" as a primary motivator as a good example. Gamespots Kevin Van Ord is one, my brother is another who enjoy this a lot.

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Friday, April 06, 2012 @ 1:34:35 PM

I am one of them as well, I love a challenge. :P

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012 @ 10:44:43 AM

I tend to agree with you Temjin001 (and nicely composed by the way). I like a large variety of different types of games with various difficulty levels (even occasionally some Move games/casual/some may find a little silly that aren't very in depth). I tend to prefer games that have some kind of coherent and personally appealing story, with an art direction, soundtrack and gameplay I find appealing, with a great atmospheric presence to match. I think the more choices available to appeal to a larger variety of gamers is better than a very small selection to appeal to just a very limited range. Having blockbusters that are mainstream and has a wide appeal is good, but I think having those other great experiences, some of them some gamers may even consider diamonds in the rough, is nice. Speaking in terms of frustration negating fun, I also feel frustrated at times, but not as much as a very close friend of mine who isn't quite as adept and gets frustrated more easily than I.

As for saving, I also tend to like the save on the fly type of saving mechanic, or at least the frequent checkpoint with one dedicated auto save with the choice to save manually at certain points too. It does depend though if the levels are massive or more numerous but typically smaller in scale, somewhat like Sly Cooper or Rayman Origins (which I don't have or have yet to play, though I did play a very little amount of a PS1 title). Good examples? I'm playing the first Sly (first time, I know I know :-O, and I'm really liking it) from the Sly Collection now and I think I played a level from the 2nd or 3rd quite a few years ago on some kind of demo disc possibly.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012 @ 10:44:43 AM

* Accidental Double Post *

Though I'd like to add that do often visit this site, more often at times than others, but I don't often post. I'd also like to commend the posters who seem to generally post or reply in a constructive, well thought out, civilized and even polite manner. Thank you for your kind, encouraging and helpful posts. Thanks, of course to Ben and Arnold, whom do their best to contribute and keep this site running as smoothly as possible. Thanks again.

Last edited by H8WL3R on 4/11/2012 10:51:44 AM

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Thursday, April 05, 2012 @ 10:23:20 PM

idk...i kinda miss the old days. where single player games were just as addictive as multiplayer games are today. can only say I've only really been addicted to R3 online this gen as well as uncharted 2. if pacman championship edition had more stuff to do on there i promise you i'd still be on there. The other games with minimal to no checkpoints, i miss those. nowadays it just feels like i buy a game...beat it...and depending on if i liked gameplay i'd try it out online...if it's an mp game that is. some mp games dont even have offline mp which kinda makes it hard to smack down atleast $40 a game if you dont buy it which case you'd still have to pay $10 on top of what you already payed

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Thursday, April 05, 2012 @ 11:00:33 PM

I agree big time Ben. Every time I start a new game, I look for the easy switch. If I want the frustration of repeated deaths I'll go online. My single player experience should be that of fun, relaxation and immersion.

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Thursday, April 05, 2012 @ 11:04:43 PM

<<<<As the average age of a gamer continues to rise, the average amount of time a fan has to play drops>>>>

Ha, at 59 I certainly resemble the 1st part of that sentence....but the second 1/2 is where I take the fork in the road.

At my age I am still marathoning my game-time & in all of the sittings of just the last 3 game's I've been playing(inFamous 2, LA Noire & now Borderlands, including every DLC for each), I've drained 2 fully charged controllers at least 3 times or more each, during every sitting.

The only slight downside of it is that once I'm revved up to go, I only stop playing once I've started seeing on-screen triples of everything. Plus I never know exactly what day or time zone I'm in when I finally come do up for air.

OK, I've just downed 3 cups of coffee, a couple of No-Dooz tablets, a few splashes of eye-drops, plus a Twinkie and I've now got my second wind back, so I'm off for another overnighter in Borderlands once again, this time I'm going to be visiting General Knoxx place, checking out Mad Moxie's Underdome riots, partake in a Claptrap Revolution, & visit some old zombie buddies at Dr Ned's crib.......

Then look out "Red Dead Redemption GOTY Edition, cause I'm gonna be gunning for ya next


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Thursday, April 05, 2012 @ 11:40:28 PM

Ah, Mega Man 2... the game I hated the most for difficulty, cried in fits of rage and anger over, but could never quit out of some need to show I was a true gamer. I'm pretty sure I learned how to curse properly from that one.

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Friday, April 06, 2012 @ 8:17:32 AM

Pfftt.... Mega Man 2 was a cake walk compared to Mega Man, particularly once in Wiley's castle =)

I'm an NES/SNES graduate of MM games.
I stopped playing them once PSX came around

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Friday, April 06, 2012 @ 1:10:43 AM

In my case, difficulty also helps with immersion. If I'm steam rolling everything, when the story rolls around, I don't really feel like my character should be taxed in any way. He should be saying things like "What a piece of piss that was! Hah! God of the Underworld?! Next time try a little harder."

In my opinion, if things aren't difficult enough, the game isn't fun or immersive. Just my opinion though, as people play games for different reasons, but it definitely affects my view. I love Okami and it's one of my favourite games, but it was a little too easy. I wish I could have switched the difficulty to a higher level.

I also don't like games that are cheaply difficult for no apparent reason though. This is downright frustrating and cheapens the experience because of how unrealistically MY character is steamrolled. There is a fine balance to meet my enjoyment expectations. This is why I think games should have fine tuned difficulty levels to implement for gamers of varying skills.

However there are also games like Journey and Flower that are more about the experience than anything. In this case, difficulty doesn't really matter yah? But in a game like Devil May Cry, there had better be difficulty levels so I can feel like a total badass when I get the hang of things and am able to juggle multiple enemies while staying airborn on the hardest difficulty.

Last edited by ZenChichiri on 4/6/2012 1:12:24 AM

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Friday, April 06, 2012 @ 1:29:18 AM

I should have also mentioned that difficulty levels should be there to fine tune and customize the experience to your own liking. Some things are easier for others, and thus we should be able to make our adventure how we want it. Many games have difficulty levels, but some don't. The ones that do often miss the mark completely as well, making hard mode feel much too easy or having easy mode still have difficult portions, such as frustrating QTEs that don't change at all with regards to the difficulty setting.

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Friday, April 06, 2012 @ 5:03:36 AM


Thank you!

Everything you wrote in here!! It is all exactly true and exactly how I feel about games these days.

I tried to get into Demon's Souls, I really did!! But I found myself enjoying it less because of the intense difficulty (and I know THAT was its selling point) but as a 25 year old about to leave university and accept responsibilites in life, I just don't have it in me to master entire levels of a video game anymore.

I actually enjoyed CoD's short campaign! I finished MW3 twice and got all the collectibles AND even had time to return it within a week and get my money back from EB.

Then there's games with reasonable increases in difficulty like Super Mario games, or games with frequent save points and shorter replay points like Uncharted or Gears of War. They are perfect for some short but frequent enjoyment whilst still progressing through the story.

We older gamers like to be challenged, but don't want to be forced to replay whole levels or restart from the beginning for a mistimed jump or not reaching cover quick enough, which is why I am very happy with the state of gaming where it is now.

The PS3, 360 and Wii can play pre-owned games, and the only extra you pay is for online which I don't use much anyway.

The PS3, 360 and Wii have amazing single player games with excellent stories, but a great assortment of online games for those of us only interested in playing with friends.

PS3 and 360 use standard control functions, but movement-based control technology and speech control tech is available and optional, NOT forced upon us!!

Difficult games are still around, like Ninja Gaiden 2 or Dark Souls, but for those of us who just want to play, enjoy and finish a game are very much catered to along with the hardcore.

This also makes me realise that any bad things gamers have to say is bred from the gamers being spoiled this generation and being able to communicate directly with developers via the internet.
Quite frankly, I'm not complaining. If I don't like it or don't enjoy it, I don't play it and move onto something I do enjoy. Complaining is the most immature and self-centred way to go about it, eg. I got sick of dying in Demon's Souls too often on one level, so before I got worked up, I turned it off and played some Flower, followed by some Rock Band. Any built up anger and frustration soon melted away.

Sony, MS, Nintendo... please, PLEASE hold off the next gen just that bit longer!! Everything is working just right this gen, and I for one am happy to keep it going for as long as possible.

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Saturday, April 07, 2012 @ 4:22:55 AM

25 ain't "older", kid.


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Tuesday, April 10, 2012 @ 12:14:25 PM

Age isn't a number

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Friday, April 06, 2012 @ 5:43:26 AM

you need a mix of both and sadly we dont have that!
that is EXACTLY why i loved splatterhouse so much!
because it was a old rump to the ways of old, instead of giving in to the bigger crowd the developers realise there is a oldschool crowd out there that wants oldschool games!
i just wish we had more of them!!!!!!!!!!

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Friday, April 06, 2012 @ 8:29:00 AM

I personally like playing some games where you have to skill up as a player to conquer them. You get better at the game by playing the game.

Dark souls hits all the right notes for me. When you die, you as a gamer have to learn what you did wrong, and as a person level up. The game isn't going to change for you, but you have to change and make the game your B%!@

Journey is my favourite game so far this year. I have played through it 10 times and probably will play through it several more.

If I'm playing a game and winning and its easy, I'm not satisfied in the slightest and get borderline bored. I play games to not be bored and to feel some type of satisfaction. Knowing that I made the enemy die easier because I put it on an easy setting doesn't make me feel accomplished and frankly isn't fun for me. I like a nice balance of skill and challenge vs reward.

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Friday, April 06, 2012 @ 9:36:01 AM

I live by a creed I first heard from a dear friend of mine -- games should not be harder than LIFE.

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Friday, April 06, 2012 @ 10:13:34 AM

So that means games should be very hard when life gets ultra hard?

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Friday, April 06, 2012 @ 11:07:21 AM

Har Har :)

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Friday, April 06, 2012 @ 11:43:25 AM

Castlevania games were incredibly difficult, so much that I never beat any of the first bunch until I was in college in 2006.

That was an infuriating and satisfying week of playing Castlevania I, III, Super Castlevania IV, and Dracula X(which I had never heard of on the SNES until about that time).

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Friday, April 06, 2012 @ 2:01:56 PM

I think games are easier because of better design and play testing. Alot of older games were hard because of technology limitation or quick development. Contra, three lives and good luck. If you took the checkpoints away and gave the player only three lives in CoD it would be just as hard. One of the hardest games for the NES was TMNT, not really a hard game except for that on pain I'm the ass dam level. Or Top Gun's near impossible landing. These weren't intentional difficult games, they were flaws that never would make it with proper development and technology.

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Sunday, April 08, 2012 @ 11:17:55 AM

This is an incredibly good point.

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Friday, April 06, 2012 @ 5:27:31 PM

I'm not sure games are as that much 'easier' at all. Hell, 2D scrolling shooters, if anything, have been growing harder over time (I go back to good 'ole 1942/43, or some of the earlier games in the genre for a break after the ridiculousness of the 'bullet hells' they have these days - it's as if the genre has been trying to one-up itself for 30 years ;)). And some old-school RPGs (I'm talking PC RPGs that used text sprites, or even just text - _really_ old school ;)) were pretty easy, and some these days are hard (DS is the obvious, of course, but there were some tough RPGs on PSP as well).

However, I think when people think of old games, their memories jump to the likes of Contra and Battletoads first, and forget the less emotionally intense experiences (frustration can be pretty intense ;)).

There's a term in surveying when asking people about their past called 'recall bias', and it kicks in pretty fast - stuff that's only a year old gets pretty skewed, and stuff like this, where we're trying to think of the difficulty of really old games, is full of pitfalls.

The best way to get an idea is to actually fire up the classics - and when I hit my Sega Master Collection, or my Capcom classics, or my PSOne games, there's no noticeable difference in difficulty, in general.

That said - I continue to be glad that there are plenty of accessible games, as I find the ridiculously hard games break immersion for me, as much as anything (ie, how can the story be taken seriously when the probability of anyone actually getting through it is so low).

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Friday, April 06, 2012 @ 6:34:40 PM

OMG!! Squirrelicus u are rigth!!! I play a lot of PS3 games and by far beat every one of them but rigth now im playing Prince of Persia Trilogy and im stuck in first 2 game not because i suck but due to the bad design.We have now better engine that are more accurate to what we do in real life and thats why we can assimilate better.

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Friday, April 06, 2012 @ 7:36:01 PM

Titles that are easy and casual are great for the industry, but the same good be said for titles like Demon's Souls.

Although Demon's Souls was definitely not for the faint of heart lol!

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Saturday, April 07, 2012 @ 2:03:14 PM

As long as there is a difficulty level I am ok. People who just want to sit back and enjoy a story can put it on easy. But I hate easy titles. I fall asleep playing. So they absolutly always have to make an extrem mode! :D

I want them to continue challenging us with crazy games always more difficult (as long as it is not difficult because the controls are not responsive or the camera is crappy lol) I want more unforgiving games like Demon's Souls where your skillz really do matter.

Last edited by Neo_Aeon666 on 4/7/2012 2:05:48 PM

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