Yeah, it’s fast becoming the world’s worst kept secret. Nevertheless, it’s not something I like to broadcast.
Anyway. Why do I like playing fighting games solo? Probably because I’ve done it for most of my life. I still remember eagerly running to an arcade in Tucson to check out the latest releases, and play them to the end, or as close to the end as I could. (Damn you, Onslaught!) Other players were typically rare, and generally viewed as a nuisance. They often cut my games short, and I don’t really like to lose (that’s the world’ssecondworst kept secret), which is why I was thankful when I had an arcade cabinet all to myself. From 1997 on, I also bought a lot of console fighting games, typically on the Saturn and Dreamcast. Those too I preferred to play alone, although there were times I’d compete against friends just for the hell of it.
One of the things I really hate about online gaming (aside from the rude opponents and convenient disconnects) is that it keeps a permanent record of your wins and losses, docking you points for every loss. It’s like it’s putting all your failures on public display, which really makes me hesitant to participate.
The rant about male ego was ill-considered, but I really do feel strongly about making games accessible to everyone, not just those who are willing to prove themselves in trials of searing fire. That’s entertaining to some, but a game like Super Meat Boy is like pulling teeth to me. There are few things I likelessin a game than repeating a scene over and over again until you’ve gotten it just right. The golden raccoon suits in the latest Super Mario Bros. games (for 3DS and Wii), I think, are a good response to this. It gives players a chance to enjoy the whole game, rather than getting roadblocked at one tricky stage and quitting in frustration. I know the idea’s been mocked, and I personally wouldn’twantto use a game breaker like this if it wasn’t necessary, but it’s nice to have that option just in case.
I guess the most succinct way to put it is that when I play video games, I don’t want to grow hairs on my chest or flex my muscles to other players. I just want to have fun. When a game is too difficult, either by intent or due to faults in its design, that fun is lost..
Here, we can take this to somewhere a little bit more productive. There are two problems here (and these are understandable problems that tons of other people make so don’t take this in the same tone as my original post).
Fun is RELATIVE. A lot of people say similar things to you. “Oh, I just want to have fun” sorta implying that fun is both a consistent and something players who enjoy harder content don’t get. Like I said above, many games that people might say are ‘fun’ I find to be boring and games you say are ‘grow hair on your chest’ hard are for me, fun.
You can read about this concepts with ideas such as Aesthetics of Play in the MDA framework . People play games for tons of reasons. From challenge, to story, to comforting repetition to exploration, to social interaction…. all of which can be called ‘fun’. I’m having fun, you’re having fun, he’s having fun, she’s having fun. Most of us just wanna sit down and “have fun”. We all simply crave different play aesthetics and as such, “just have fun” in different ways.
Super Meat Boy was, for me, just difficult to be engaging and with levels that were so fast I greatly enjoyed repeating them and bettering my times. Repetition is a very common aesthetic of play. Despite being ‘hardcore’ that enjoyment from me is no different from my mom wanting to play bejeweled for the nth time. It’s highly subjective.
The next idea is the idea of accessibility. While many games are accessible across skill levels (Mario is a classic for this), most games simply can’t be… As such, someone is getting excluded. It might be weird to think about it this way, but when a game is made really easy and focuses on more passive play aesthetics, -I’m being excluded-. Unless you have a disability, it’s no different for you. You could power through the game. You could play it despite losing. You could — but you won’t. I could play a game I found really boring too. But I also won’t.
Now this is a bit of a simplification. Even my own tastes are more complex than that and there are non-challenging games I like that hit on the key aesthetics I enjoy, but the idea is still the same. Games can’t be everything to everyone. Someone is getting left out. It might be preferable to not leave people out unnecessarily or in ways that are not conducive to the design of the game, but good games often exclude out of necessity. There conception and target audience requires it for them to have fun.
There is no universal concept of fun and ‘accessible to everyone’ represents such a small pool of potential games that it’s unsustainable. Taste dictates that different games need to be made for different people. Hell, different games are enjoyed by different people for different reasons, which is totally awesome.
I think you’re thoughts on why you don’t like playing certain games are totally rational and you’ve explained them well, but you still seem caught up in some fallacious ideas about fun and accessibility. And that’s okay — a lot of people are. I think getting past that is a good thing. I could be bitter too, but in the opposite direction, but I’m not. Even if I’m sorta under-served as a gamer. I wish I got more games targeted at me, but I can’t blame anyone for wanting what they want anymore. I just hope they enjoy themselves.
Definitely lame when people disconnect from online play, but that second bit to me is seriously silly. Disconnect’ers I would say are afraid of losing and can’t accept it, but at the same time you seem to be as well. So much so that you refrain from even participating… In a game. Please make an effort to see losses differently from how you do now.
Now with regards to difficult games. I’ve simply accepted that some are probably conducive of rage for many—take a deep breath I tell myself. Any game I play at any particular time depends on my feelings or mood. Sometimes I want a challenge, sometimes I want to …uh let’s go with relax or mess around. I think all games are simply what they are and it’s up to me to choose based on what type of experience I want. Someone may want a game to be harder, but I don’t think all games can just simply be made more challenging. Nor can all games simply be made easier. I think that depends heavily on the type of game and the mechanics. Look at Mario—all they did was break the game with a special tanooki suit. I myself am super glad there was no such thing in NES Mario when I was a kid. I didn’t beat Mario, and I’m quite certain I will never beat World 8 of Super Mario 3.
I feel like I could go on a rant about pandering and the nerf-padding of the world. Instead I think it’s worth thinking about the effort Developers put into creating their games. I believe it’s well known they work their asses off, and it’d perhaps be mean to add upon their workload by forcing them to think of a way to “make the game accessible for everyone.” Dev’s would have to think of changes and implement them. I just do not see how that could be done for a number of games. If a game isn’t for me, then it isn’t for me.
Seems like Mr. Michael O’Reilly has already laid it down with regards to accessibility and audiences and whatnot.