Quote of the Day – Difficulty is the Point

But you should never forget the fundamental contract every game seeks to forge with its players: accept this world and these obstacles in the name of experience, and make of them what you will. Difficulty is the point, not the problem.

-Tom Chatfield, Ars Technica article When it comes to video games, difficulty is the point—not the problem

An interesting read that explores how video games have a different relationship with the end user compared to various other mediums.  I like that he dips into things like nostalgia for Vanilla WoW.  Things difficult at the time… or difficult relative how things are now… look better in hindsight.  Things annoying at the time often become the best tales after the fact.  That, in turn, also pokes a bit at the game guides question I suppose, as presenting things to overcome and then handing out (or selling) the teacher’s answer key no doubt changes the relationship.

Of course, when speaking of gaming difficulty, I suppose that it says something that the graphic chosen for the article was an EVE Online desktop picture.

Lost in Space...

Lost in Space…

There is difficulty, and then there is the passive-aggressive, near hostility with which EVE Online greets the new player.  EVE Online is a game where I find simple travel to be post-worthy at times.

6 thoughts on “Quote of the Day – Difficulty is the Point

  1. C. T. Murphy

    Considering I spent the weekend hopping back and forth between a vanilla WoW server and a Everquest circa Kunark server, I don’t disagree with this quote.

    In current sight, vanilla World of Warcraft struck a pretty good balance between the old guard and a much more accessible approach. If I could just get that back with some decent class design!


  2. Pingback: Asking | Kill Ten Rats

  3. Wulfus

    When I hear about difficulty in WoW it always strikes me as odd. The game runs the gamut from extremely easy to extremely difficult depending on what you’re doing. If you’re questing and just levelling the difficulty is trivial. However, going into Challenge Modes and Raiding Heroics the difficulty is only beatable by a tiny percentage. I always get the impression that the people who complain about WoW’s lack of difficulty aren’t actually looking for it.


  4. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Spinks – I think you might be confusing “difficulty” with “being difficult.”

    Every game I have ever played has required me to do something to reach the goal set out by the game. That “doing” tends to be the point of the game, the playing, and therein lies whatever level of difficulty the author of the game has included.

    Basically, the difficulty is in the playing, where “easy” is a legitimate level of difficulty, and I cannot imagine a game without any level of difficulty.


  5. Matt

    As stated it seems kind of banal. Even Dear Esther possesses “difficulty”, if only the difficulty of moving in the right direction, which someone out there is sure to find impossible (or maybe the difficulty of staying awake?). The real issue is more of what the difficulty should be, with the constant implication that games are too easy. My impression is that games have jettisoned a lot of pointless BS masquerading as difficulty and not always found something good to replace it.

    There’s also the saturation aspect. Back in the day we got one game a month or whatever and had to make it work. Today I can play whatever I want to. Not much reason to put up with frustration for the sake thereof. And even in the good old days, pretty much everyone just gave up on Battletoads.


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