Do games need to be hard?


Written by: Gareth Nelson

Part 3- Simulation Theory

Hello again OUG readers. We all know about the ups and downs of life and our ever continuing search for escapism from our true existence. Don't worry I am not writing a script for a new Matrix movie (even though that should be warranted from the horror I saw in the cinema last year). With times being hard with wars money being tight and there being mental health struggles, I like to unwind with a good story driven game or maybe even a quick multiplayer session. What I have also seen recently is the huge success and hype behind Elden Ring. This is by all accounts a brutal hard game. 

A brutal hard game by FromSoftware who are notorious for making brutal hard games. Many call titles such as Dark Souls and Bloodbourne the greatest games of all time, with Elden Ring getting the same hyperbole. A little premature reaction I thought, can a game really be so good in the little time that it has been released? Then in Twitter feeds I have seen reviews that class the game so highly because it is brutal. This is an alien concept to me personally as I am self professed coward who runs and hides from games that are difficult. This is why I have never played a game by FromSoftware. It just isn't my thing. I hate dying over and over and over, it is in my opinion tedious and gets in the way of the enjoyment. But it seems to be a subculture of gaming identity that has existed in the world in some form for the last 40 years of our beloved hobby. I grew up hearing of the legends of Ninja Gaiden and Battletoads being unbelievably difficult to complete. My little meek mind thought immediately "why would you want to play something that is hard? Why would you want to be upset after paying money for it?". 

I have never claimed to be very good at games. My brother would always beat me, my friends would always beat me and my brothers friends would. But I would never get upset by that, I would never put too much pressure on myself. I could take comfort that even if I couldn't win at least I would enjoy myself. 

In today's climate of wanting to be noticed and validated by the slightest amount, there is a quite a large toxic display of bragging. This is seen particularly in shooters when there are many who spend up copious amounts of money and time and deploying cheats in order to be the best and keep new players who just want the enjoyment of taking part right down at the bottom of the pile. 

But with Elden Ring, I have noticed that there is still a portion of people who have enjoyed themselves to a large extent as they feel that they have beaten something that is challenging. They are happy and contented. It maybe be puzzling at first to someone such as myself who has never even played the latest craze (I tend to avoid them). I am safe with my controller away and my Youtube videos showcasing content creators taking the brunt instead. Also my wallet is safe from harm too but that is another rant for another page.

To paraphrase John F. Kennedy, "we do these things, not because they are easy but because they are hard" looks to be in full force with the 12 million selling blockbuster that has dominated the game charts.

I am not totally in the dark as I once had a little epic quest of playing Alien Isolation every day for six months and feeling so good when I completed it. Maybe there is hope for me yet...

Written by: Gareth Nelson