Challenge means something different to everyone. To some, a challenge is a test, meant to be faced head on. The harder the difficulty, the greater the reward. Challenge tests and hones your abilities, while triumph means your skills have succeeded in overcoming an almost impossible task. The joy comes from conquering. Then there are those that dislike the challenge, where the need to progress is stronger than fighting to move forward. Challenge is a chore and does nothing more than hamper progress. The more difficult the challenge, the less enjoyable the game becomes.
I fit into the later camp. In any game, if I have the choice to choose the difficulty, I will always choose easy. Many may see that as weak, or not hardcore, but for me it's how I like to play games. Here's why:
Usually, when a game is too difficult, I'll just stop playing it. I don't see it as a challenge to be met, and I feel no satisfaction from conquering a game that brutally assaults me. If I keep dying, or I can't continually progress from one area of the game because of the difficulty, I get irritated, then I get pissed off because I feel like the game is cheating. At this point, it just isn't fun anymore.
And if I ever have the patience to push forward, I don't feel accomplished. I feel like my time was wasted on something that got on my nerves. Why spend time, that I need for other things, on a challenge that's only going to rile me up? There's no need for it, because I don't play games for the challenge, or to compete.
When I play a game, I play for the story. I know there's an age old argument about the story in games, and how they're terrible, or shouldn't be focused on, but I enjoy them. Some of the greatest stories I've had the pleasure of experiencing were in video games. I mean, Final Fantasy IX, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Kingdom Hearts, Nights into Dreams, Dragon Age, and so many other games have left a lasting impression on me, through their story.
I want to experience and be a part of the tale as it unfolds. If it interests me, I want to keep playing, I want to know more. However, if a game is too difficult, and I can't progress through the story? What's the point?
#3- An Escape
Aside from story, I play games to escape. Sometimes, you get tired. Life and people get exhausting. And sometimes it's nice to get your mind off all the nonsense, and just clear your thoughts with a good book, a movie, a walk, or a good video game. Sometimes you just need to step back and relax, and video games help me do that.
I stress out a lot with life, as everyone does. I don't need to stress over a game. I won't. It just isn't worth it to be stressed and then play a game to get stressed. Playing on easy allows me to be a part of the game, but slowly experience it at my pace, and my timing.
#4- Sense of Power
Also, aside from the enjoyment I get from playing games, I love the sense of power that easy affords you, as a player. On normal or hard mode, the game will do its best to brutalize you, which brings me back to my thoughts on The Story and An Escape. But not only that, I like to feel like my character is powerful, without the need to exert that much effort. And truthfully...
#5- No Skill
I also play on easy because I'm not that skilled of a player. I don't have lightning fast reflexes, I can't react to an unstoppable onslaught with a well thought out button command, and I'm not very aware of my in game surroundings. I have terrible reaction times, I usually don't memorize strings of combos very well, and you can forget about any form of precision.
Any game that requires a high modicum of skill is usually a game that will aggravate me, and I'll stop playing. I almost, almost stopped playing the Last of Us because of how difficult it was. Those damn Clickers! But that's a rare instance where I pushed forward. That game was like a cinematic masterpiece, so I was willing to keep playing.
Most of the time, though, I play games where I can level up. If I can grind, and level up beyond the opposition? I love it! The ability to get stronger than the enemy, and just wail on them later on, is one of the highlights for me in any game! Especially in games like Dragon Age, Kingdom Hearts, or Saints Row IV. I level up to compensate for my lack of skill.
#6- No Time
Lastly, I just don't have all the time in the world to devote to games anymore. I have a wife, a daughter, freelance work, reviews to write, bills to pay, money to budget, errands to run, places to go, and other things in life that require more of my attention. I play on easy because I can enjoy myself, progress, have fun, feel empowered, and then be done with it.
I can't be spending hours, or days slogging away to a single game, like I did when I was younger. And if I play on a more challenging level, it takes that much longer to finish. And I want to finish the game. I want to see how it ends. Not only to put a close on my adventure, but also be able to move on, without thinking about it anymore. Cause when I finish a game, I usually move onto another one without looking back. There are the rare games that I will continue to play from time to time, like Borderlands 2, Destiny, or Street Fighter, but I eventually set those down, too. For the most part when I'm done I'm done. There are too many games and not enough time to stay on one. There really, truly, isn't enough time anymore.
I don't play games for the challenge or to compete. That's why I usually stay away from first person multiplayer, simply because I suck at aiming. I can never get a head shot, and I take to long to aim. That's also why I avidly avoid the Crucible in Destiny: I just end up dying, getting frustrated, and disappointing my Fireteam. Believe me, I tried, and I didn't enjoy it.
Aside from my list of reasons, I play on easy for the enjoyment. Some may think that I'm just a casual player, and not a true gamer, since I opt for easy. But hey, I've been playing since the Atari era. I started with Pong, worked my way up to Super Mario Bros., Legend of Zelda, and Metroid. I've beaten every Mega Man game on the NES. I beat Contra with the legendary code. I beat Metroid using Justin Bailey. I can beat Mega Man 3 and Super Mario Bros. 3 in one sitting. I love every console, and have been an avid gamer all the way to now, from Star Wars: Knight of the Old Republic to Dragon Age: Inquisition.
I play on easy and it works for me. If that means I'm not hardcore, so be it. I love video games passionately, and easy allows me to have the time, and the enjoyment, to get through them. That's just how I like to play. How about you? Are you like me, or are do you thirst for a challenge?