Op Ed

It’s too easy!

I’m sure that not a lot of people have the unusual hobby of reading gaming website forums, but it’s something I like to do when I have a bit of free time. You can meet human nature in all its grandiose existence. One of the frequent comments that I see online about games in general is that they are too easy. People complaining that this to that game is made for “casual” gamers. But are games really becoming too easy? Through my hobby, I found that I could classify these people into 3 categories and I discovered a few things about the difficulty of games.

The first category is the gamer which I would classify as the ” I’m the best!”. They are easy to spot, they egos make them hard to miss. These gamers want to look cool and want to keep people attention on themselves. They believe they can achieve this by coming close to this or that game high score. These people complain a game is too easy, when too many people get “close” to their prize. Diminishing everything they accomplished and making them common men. So out of fear of losing the top 10 in the high scores, these people whine online that this or that game is too easy now and that only “casuals” play these anymore. As if any games that have more than 2% of it player base complete it was not good enough for them.

The second category are the powergamers. These are players that try to achieve “perfection”, they need to have the best weapons, best gears and best results in a game. These people try to find the optimal configuration for the game they are playing and they will ultimately cry that the game have become too easy after a while. Games developers really balance their game by taking the future powergamers’ spreadsheets into account, which means that their “characters” will become overpowered  and will soon slice and tear through the content like it was butter. As such, the powergamers will feel that the game is too easy and complain about it. I actually have pomergamers tendencies and I can relate to these people, but I realized that I was the problem and not the game design. Which means that I don’t try to optimize my “characters” as much as before, because I know that if I do it I won’t have as much fun.

The final category is the “Every fight should have me with only 1% of health left”. This is an interesting group of players. Part of them think that the game are too easy, simply because they are having an easy time on most “fights”. They want to “suffer” through all the content, regardless if they are fighting rats or a gigantic robots in spaces. Games should be frustrating, each encounter should have people die at least 10 times before they finally find a way to beat the regular foes, etc. They seek a challenge, but sometimes I wonder if they are just sado-masochists and want to be sure that everybody else suffers like they do. What’s the point of making a game so hard that nobody wants to play it?

With these 3 type of gamers, you might wonder if games are really becoming too easy or if some people just want strangers to suffer hardship for them to have fun. Their might be a bit of truth in their claims though. The video game industry has exploded to encompass millions of people and lots of them don’t have the time, reflexes or skills to play the games of yore. So developers make them more user friendly: better interface, auto-targeting for certain things, more visual information, simpler mechanics and easier to learn. But these things don’t necessarily make a game easier, it simply allow it to reach a wider audience, bringing in more money and in turn allowing for new games to be developed.

Finally, most games these days have difficulty levels, no point in complaining that the easy difficulty is too easy. It is meant to be. Try playing on hard next time.

2 replies on “It’s too easy!”

It’s funny, my son is a power gamer and he never complains about games being too easy. He gets what we have affectionately dubbed his Mad Scientist gleam when he has cracked the system and can play through a game without breaking a sweat.
I am the opposite, I guess what you might call an “anal-retentive” gamer. I want to leave no stone unturned, finish every side quest and find every treasure. For me, the only time a game it too easy is when it’s too straightforward and there’s not enough of a puzzle element. If gameplay is just a series of “go here, hit this thing till it’s dead, rinse and repeat” I will get bored.

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