Must games be difficult?

As a youth, I never particularly liked games. Board games, card games – they bore or frustrate me to no end. At first it’s fun, but as the game drags on I become tired of playing, but cannot just quit – oh no the game must be finished, and somebody must win!

I also hated losing.

Move forward a little to video games.

Video games on consoles are hard. They are designed so that you have to play them over and over ad nauseum until you can memorize the terrain and entrance of bad guys, thus winning the game.

I don’t understand how anybody can consider this fun. You make it almost to the end of the level, and have to do the whole darned thing over again. Why? Why do you ever have a limited number of lives? Why must the game end – and the player have to start over from the beginning – when they lose all their lives?

Tell me, WHY!

It doesn’t take brains to repeat the same 5-minute level 16 times until you master it. It’s no innate skill that allows you to memorize where the boss will strike and exactly when to jump because you’ve wasted 4 hours getting there.

That is not fun. It is not fun to work and work and work and have it all lost because the game designers want to make sure you are challenged.

Well I for one do not consider that a challenge – I consider it an exercise in futility.

When I play video games, I like to explore. I like to see if I can get into the back room. I like to talk to the NPCs. I like to be impressed by the graphics and music, to be drawn into the story line.

It is difficult to be drawn into the story line when you have to repeat the same mission 25 times before you complete it.

Take Max Payne 2, for example. It has a fabulous story line, great attention to detail, lots of ways you can mess with stuff and people…

I tried to play this game without cheating. Then I reached the dance club. Impossible. You are stuck – a single person with one gun in a building full of thugs who want you dead. Worse than that, they can fell you with one or two hits. This might be acceptible if it didn’t take you 4 shots to kill them.

WTF!?! Is that fun? A friend of mine managed to beat that section without cheating. It took him DAYS. He spent all his free time playing that game – he was good.

Once again I ask you, how is that fun? Challenging? Sure. Relieving? I suppose. But about as much fun as dropping a gigantic load.

Pc games are much better than console games however. When a console game is too easy (meaning it can be beat in less than 4 days) it receives terrible reviews and ends up in the bargain bin. A game designer can either make a longer game with a better storyline and more character involvement…. Or they can just make it so hard that people have to repeat vast segments over and over and over and over until they complete the game.

What we need is the equivalent of toys.

A toy is something you play with. You use your imagination and your creativity to amuse yourself. You build things. You break things. You set things up and knock them down. You pretend. You create the challenge youself in what you want to accomplish.

Katamari Damacy is an example of a Toy game. It is a little challenging, but you can beat the game without having to replay many of the scenarios. After you’ve beat it, you can continue to hone your skills and get more stuff – but the game is just fun and relaxing. It’s easy, but if you set your goal for something hard – it can be.

Lemmings is another example. That game was fun!

And how about The Incredible Machine? You didn’t have to do anything but play around if you didn’t want to.

To be continued – sleepy time calls

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