A Challenge In Gaming

You get a trophy for reading this!


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What happened to the idea of games being difficult? Why is it that if something offers a real challenge it is just seen as too hard and not worth doing?

Introduction

Remember when things used to be challenging. Remember when you had to work to hear the phrase, Well done you did really well!”
I don’t because I grew up in the participation medal generation.
Some of you might not even realize that a reward for just showing up didn’t used to be a thing. I mean for fuck’s sake I got a trophy when I finished the sixth grade. Along with every other person in my class. What bigger fuck you could exist outside of a trophy that literally means. You have finished Primary school now fuck off to high school.
A note for people reading this. In Australia primary school is Kindergarten till sixth grade and high school is grade 7 to 12.
Just this fact confused someone when they test read this article for me.
This concept has also run through in to gaming and that is what this article is all about.

The Problem

The problem breaks down in to 2 separate parts.
The first is the inability for people to accept a challenge when they find one. This honestly used to be why people liked games. It was coming up against challenges they had to really work for. This could mean spending days searching maps for path ways and items, or Perhaps replaying levels in games over and over until you work out the best strategy.
Some where along the path of recent history giving up and bitching became the new normal thing to do.
Forget the challenge if you can’t beet it on the first try, Just have someone help you do it or bitch and wine until it gets changed.
This brings us to part 2 of the problem. Developers giving in to peoples wining, either because they love the idea of making everyone feel special even when they fucking aren’t, Or just to shut them up!

The Whiney Voice In The Back Of My Head

Even as I write my thoughts down here a whiney voice in the back of my head is saying something along the lines of.
“But Hannibal, We have to cater games to all skill levels. So if something is to hard we aren’t doing that.”
While most of me wants to say shut the fuck up to the voice and ignore it. The other part of me understands that this is one of the biggest arguments used by people when they can’t get past a certain part in a game.
I hate to say it to anyone out there…but if you say especially on a regular basis. “I can’t do this.”
You are a liar…You are lying to me…and to everyone else, but more importantly. you are lying to yourself.
The fact is…with enough practice you can do it. Don’t get me wrong I am sure people will come up with solid reasons why they can’t do certain things in games. But for the most part you are being lazy or impatient. If you put the time in to get better, you would find you could get past it. You choose to limit yourself, and no one else is to blame but yourself.

The Solution

I touched upon the solution above but lets talk about the problem and its solution more fully.
When it comes to players, practice is really the best, and in most cases only thing you can do. You can watch videos on others doing the part you are struggling with sure…they can certainly help. You might be having difficulties because an idea hasn’t occurred to you. I am not against people getting a certain amount of help with challenges.
In the end however you need to do it for yourself. If you don’t you will come across a similar challenge and guess what. you won’t get past it.
You will just make things harder and harder for yourself until you just give up in anger!
From a developers side of things. You can address these issues in several ways.
You could very easily just ignore these people. If you find that some people are able to do this challenge, but allot of people are still bitching that its too hard, chances are you have made a really good challenge and you should stand by it !
The other thing that you can do is offer difficulty levels. Have an easy setting, and if things get 2 easy for the player they can up the difficulty.

Examples

In case I have not made myself clear here. I want to offer 2 examples of games where in my opinion 1 gets it wildly wrong, and the other gets it very right!
The first is Crazy Party. Most people who know me know that I love Crazy Party. It is one of my favorite games of all time.
But sadly it has been made easier time and time again for no real good reason. If you were playing crazy Party at the time the Plains world was released, you would know the Bicycle Path game used to be really fucking hard. This mini game you are riding on a bike towards other bikes coming in the other direction. If a bike is in front of you, then you need to get out of its way. a pretty good challenge. But people bitched saying it was to dam hard. So they made it easier but putting in an alarm to let you know when a bike is in front of you. it made the game so much easier it really isn’t that much fun.
But Hannibal didn’t you say something about difficulty levels. Crazy Party has a hardcore mode? Yes it does, but the alarm on the bicycle path exists even in the hardcore mode.
If that isn’t a good enough example. to unlock the city world you used to have to get 20 points on a certain mini game in the castle. Apparently that was to hard for people, so he put in a short cut with the stupidest game that exists in crazy party.
But I do have an example of a game that does it all right. Ironically its a game that can be played by sighted or blind people so maybe I shouldn’t count it. I am referring to sequence storm.
Sequence storm apart from being an amazingly fun game to play, it also Has well balanced difficulty settings. More than that it has the ability to change very specific settings to make the difficulty even more user specific.
Now this to me is an acceptable solution. Sure some people will set it to the easiest settings they can and just barely stumble through. But if you find it to be too much of a challenge, you can make it a little easier on your self. Then once you get some practice in and work on your rhythm a little You can change it to be a little harder and have more and more fun.
2 different approaches. 1 in Crazy Party catering to the whiney players who just need to try a little harder.
And one catering to everyone from the shit players all the way up to the elites.

Conclusion

Will this article change anyone’s mind? Probably not, But maybe, just maybe next time you reach a challenge in a game and you feel like jumping on a forum on Twitter to say its to hard and should be changed. Maybe you will stop and think. Hannibal said I shouldn’t be a little bitch. and you will settle back and try again. And maybe, just maybe, you will find you get better and better until you can pass that challenge with out it needing to be made easier for you.


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