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'Difficulty' in Gaming
by Nate Paolasso on 01/08/13 05:18:00 pm   Featured Blogs

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The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

This article was originally posted on N4G.

The value of games lies in the gamers sense of accomplishment over challenges. This is the reason why games like Dark Souls, Demon's Souls, Spelunky and Super Meat Boy are so successful. These games do not hold our proverbial hands; gradually, they teach crucial mechanics to the player that are continually presented throughout the game. Then, when the gamer uses these mechanics correctly and effectively, the game rewards the player; not only than with in-game items, but also with a snese of pride. There's no better feeling than defeating Great Grey Wolf Sif after attempting it four or five times, or finally beating a level in Super Meat Boy. 

While some gamers enjoy challenging games more than others, these games do not alienate gamers that want a casual experience because casual experiences don't exist; just different experiences. Maybe the gamer likes side-scrolling platformer experiences over third-person RPG's. So someone might come across a game like Dark Souls and claim it's too difficult. Then they try out a game like Super Meat Boy and absolutely love it, even though it's arguably very difficult. The main difference in challenge between these two games is pacing. Dark Souls presents a much slower trial-error reward system, while Super Meat Boy's is fast and intense. People aren't afraid of a challenge; they crave it. But it has to be the right challenge; everyone has their tastes and they need something that is worthwhile to them. 
Dark Souls
The reasons we, as gamers, play videogames seem to be many and incredibly dependent on the individual. One gamer might say that they play games because they love getting lost in its' world. Another might say they play videogames because they love to save princesses and destroy monsters. But when it comes down to it, gamers take pride in their videogame accomplishments. When the gamer saves that princess, they are proud that they defeated the evil dragon and jumped the river of lava to do so. And when the gamer gets lost in the captivating virtual world, they're getting involved through the activities within that world that reward the player for their time. If all it took to save that princess was a walk through the park, then the gamer wouldn't waste his time saving her. And no matter how beautiful a gaming world might be, if there's nothing to do in that world then the gamer won't stay for very long. 

Gamers need to be engaged when they're playing games. The best kind of videogames present new and exciting challenges over the time spent with them. As we play these games, we take pride in our accomplishments and triumphs. The challenge of videogames is what brings us back to those games over and over. Whether the challenge lies in endurance and patience, or wit and cunning; great videogames are challenging. Those that lack challenge are simply not worth playing.


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