Hello friends and gamers, I was scrolling across Twitter-topia today when Xbox posted a tweet that spawned many mixed responses. If you have seen other posts on my blog, you’ll know I’m all about driving positive gaming communities so I hope that my take on the situation sparks hope for all gamers.
Before I jump into some of the finer details of the video game difficulty topic, let’s start off with my background in video games and difficulty settings. I have been playing video games since I was a kid, so I confidently state that I’m an avid gamer who has played for most of my life. I grew up with the Nintendo 64, Gameboy, PS1, PS2, Xbox 360, and a Windows PC. My primary go-to genres are (J)RPGs, Third- and First-Person Shooters, Beat ’em Up, Stealth, and general Action-Adventure games. My secondary genre experiences are Survival Horror, Real-Time Strategy, Card/Board Video Games, and Management Simulation. Suffice to say, I’ve played an enormous amount of video games in my lifetime.
I even discussed my background to highlight that I am an experienced player who has played a majority of video games on hard or very hard difficulty. I enjoy playing at that level because it’s a FUN challenge for ME. That’s not to say I never play on easy or medium, but my typical taste is in the above-average difficulty set by the developers.
But to judge other people who play on easy and normal difficulties would be stupid and demeaning. Playing on hard does not make me a better person or better gamer than the ones who play on easy. It is natural for anyone more experienced in a subject to work toward a greater challenge, but it’s not even that! There are other gamers out there that have just as much or more playtime in video games than I, yet they still prefer easy or medium difficulty.
Here’s a few reasons why people play on the average difficulties:
Being a parent. Being a spouse. Being a caretaker.
As much as I would love to sit on the couch for 6+ hours and jam out to a game session—that’s just not what happens when you’re a guardian or caretaker that people depend on for support. Being a caretaker 24/7 quickly empties your energy tank. This would obviously put a heavy toll on your mental and physical attributes throughout the day. That weight, alone, can be enough to saturate your amusement for a video game. Double that weight if you are halfway through a hard playthrough and are approaching one of the most difficult boss battles in the game.
Hard Workers and Full-Time Jobs
The average American works 8-12 hour shifts per day. Amidst the pandemic that hit the globe over the past year, that number has most likely increased for employees of healthcare, postal services, truck drivers, industrial business, and more. Does anyone know who is used to working long-hour shifts like that? I highly suspect they won’t be in the mood to turn on the TV and defeat Remnant of the Ashes bosses on extreme difficulty. We need video games to be relaxing during these moments, and not just another headache.
In 2020, there were more than 264 anticipated video games released. That’s not including hidden gems, lesser-known Indie games, etc. Based on multiple sources and studies, the average person plays about 3-4 hours per day. The last time I checked, an average video game takes longer than 6 hours to complete the story. Playing side quests, hunting for collectibles, unlocking hidden cosmetics, and doing extra content can easily rack up 20+ hours on just one video game. I have 430+ hours (17.5 days) just on Monster Hunter World. The average person does not have the physical time to spend on hard modes which would prolong those completion numbers even further. Be reasonable with your time. An 8-hour boss fight that could have been completed in 15 minutes on easy/normal mode works for people who have time. But it shouldn’t be what defines your difficulty level.
I honestly debated including accessibility options on the list of reasons. Mainly because there are groups of handicapped gamers who are blind, deaf, or have other disabilities that can flat out destroy the hardest difficulty faster than I can say Doug Dimmadome, owner of the Dimmsdale Dimmadome… But I want to focus on interactive story elements in a video game when I mention accessibility options. I love video games for their unique mechanics on combat, puzzles, platforming, and storytelling.
Every video game is an interactive story where I get to experience whatever the developer wants me to experience. Some of those story writers really know how to pull on your heartstrings a little too well. Players following the story should be able to feel that same heart tug, regardless of combat, puzzle, or game mechanic difficulty. Most games now have audio and subtitles in various languages for multiple cultures.
In addition, big-time gaming companies have specialized in crafting personal handicap controllers to adjust gaming experiences for those who have lost limbs or developed other unusual impairments. Gaming has truly never been more widely accessible than it is today!
Play on the Video Game Difficulty You Love!
Did the shocking mind control scheme in Bioshock blow your mind any differently when playing on easy, normal, or hard? No! And Bioshock is still known as one of the best story twists in gaming history. It’s a beautiful creation that is loved with the absence of a difficulty barrier contest. And if you’re not convinced, let me pull out a popularized game title that doesn’t even have a difficulty level. Enter evidence #1: What Remains of Edith Finch. What Remains of Edith Finch won The Game Award for Best Narrative in 2017.
Playing this video game will result in a similar experience for everyone because it’s clearly defined by interactive short stories about a family’s curse. And none of the story playthroughs have an inkling of difficulty scaling. And is anyone upset about the game having no difficulty sliders? Of course not! Now the game doesn’t have a super intricate combat system or anything like that. But you don’t care! It’s an experience you witnessed for the first time, and it was absolutely perfect!
Gamers should be united, not divided. Play on the video game difficulty that you enjoy! I like playing most games on hard or very hard. That doesn’t mean I never play on easy or medium. I’m horrible at fighting games like Mortal Kombat and Injustice 2. You’ll catch me mashing buttons on easy/medium difficulty. I’ll yell at the computer opponent like I’m a god and they just so happened to step into the wrong dark alley. True story.
Game Gush Gamer was created as a safe haven for like-minded gamers looking for positivity in gaming communities. Just like you should not be criticized for liking a video game (even when others hate it), you should not be condemned for your playstyle. Video games were initially invented to create fun experiences for the player. So that’s exactly how you should approach your video games! Do what is fun for you! Rise above the negative backlash ashes, and join a positive community that will spread joy and love for your video game lifestyle!
What About You?
What difficulty do you love to play on?
What video game genres do you love to play?
Let me know in the comments!