Experienced Points

Experienced Points
Give Me a Win Button

Shamus Young | 25 Sep 2009 17:00
Experienced Points - RSS 2.0

When I game, I'm there for the content, not bragging rights. I want to look at the scenery, discover the story, hear the dialog, and see all the bad guys. Sometimes I'm playing an RPG or a first-person shooter and I take the gameplay very seriously. If I like a game enough, I'll gradually ratchet the difficulty all the way up during subsequent play-throughs. Other times, I just want to soak up the content and move on with as little hassle as possible. If I'm playing a platformer or fighting game, I want to put it on the easiest difficulty possible and roll through the game tourist-style.

At least, this is how I used to game. It's become increasingly difficult to be a tourist over the last decade or so. The once-ubiquitous cheat codes have been all but abandoned. On the exceptionally rare circumstances where games still have cheats, they usually do something un-helpful like unlock a new hat for you to wear while you're getting your ass kicked. Or if there are cheats that make the game easier, you have to earn them by beating the game first. Which sort of defeats the purpose of having them in the first place.

Difficulty selectors have become less useful as well. In the old days Quake, Wolfenstein, and Doom had four or five levels of challenge in addition to functioning cheat codes, and the lowest difficulty really was pretty easy. A completely new player could pick "easy" and roll through the game with only a few deaths. Today I'm noticing most games just have "normal" and "hard," where "normal" means "the average experienced gamer who is good at this genre of games," and "hard" means, "we dare you."

I don't see any rationale for this. Certainly making the game frictionless would be a great insurance policy against a flop. Just about all A-list games have something worth seeing in them, but they're not all worth taking the time to learn to play well. I've got Velvet Assassin right here. Some of the locations are quite striking and while I know the plot is purportedly a bit bland, I'd still like to roll through and see it all. But there are no cheats. No easy mode. If I want to see the endgame, I'd actually have to endure the stiff trial-and-error stealth gameplay. I'd have to take the time to master the game, and I just don't care that much. (And no, watching the play-through on YouTube isn't nearly as satisfying, for the same reason that your slideshow of Paris isn't nearly as exciting to me as actually visiting Paris.)

Comments on