Confusing title, I know. It’ll all be clear by the end of this opinion article.
Video games have been, since their humble beginnings all the way back to ‘Pong’ and ‘Space Invader’, majorly based on challenge. Hell, it used to be worthy of pride to have your name up on the high-score list at the local arcade shop. That is all but clear: video games started out as a way to challenge and entertain the player – simply as games.
Yet, we are seeing this medium evolve at a rapid pace. Once, it was all about one simple, primal objective: score as many points as possible. Classics such as ‘Pac Man’ were based on this motivation. This is no more. Sure, you still have this element present in almost every game you might play. The recently released success, ‘Grand Theft Auto V’ is littered with minigames as basic as your average arcade game. Each mission you play is ranked through a percentage, and you are given the gold, silver or bronze for it. However, are players really feeling the same motivation with this, as they were back in the dawn of video games? The answer is no.
This is because video games are becoming deep and immersive experiences, as they delve into the journey of its evolution as a form of entertainment and art. Gamers are now playing the games to experience a new world, and a new story.
Now that my little introduction is settled, let’s talk about my argument here. Not long ago, I was discussing ‘The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion’ (my favourite game of all time) with a friend. I told him that at first, I began playing through the game at a moderate difficulty level. Unfortunately, this meant that battles would take much longer than usual, and I was killed and sent to the dreaded last checkpoint more than a few times. This was not the way I wanted to experience the game, as it just stalled my exploration of the stunning and rich world of Cyrodiil. So I went to the settings menu, and pushed the difficulty bar about 1/5th down. He seemed appalled by this, but I haven’t messed with that bar since.
The problem was, an increased difficulty was not delivering the expectation I had with the game. I simply wanted to become a hero from a high-fantasy story. The Hero of Kvatch. The Champion of Cyrodiil. That was NOT the hero who would be killed by a couple of Scamps and a Clannfear try after try. Turning the difficulty to that level, and making the battles extremely easy to win made the game virtually challenge-less, and that is exactly what made my gaming experience so much better. After realizing this, I did the exact same thing for ‘Fallout 3’. And the ‘Halo: Reach’ campaign. And ‘Halo: 4’. And countless other games.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a game with a challenge. Sometimes, all you want is to push your limits and reach that high score. One of the best gaming experiences in my opinion, is to grab a bunch of pals, sit down, and settle a 4 vs. 4 fight in ‘Super Smash Bros. Brawl’. I spent my best moments in ‘World of Warcraft’ at the battleground or fighting through dungeons with a party. But sometimes it’s just nice to take it down a notch, and enjoy the ride without any major bumps on the road.
So, here I am offering an alternative to all who fail to enjoy the richness of a game’s world because of the challenge it presents. You’re gonna want to navigate the menus, find the difficulty settings, turn them down, and just let the dust build up on that option.