Why We Like Hard Games Again

April 22, 2015

Easily one of the best things about the gaming industry is that it’s constantly changing. Who knew music video games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero would have such a huge impact in the first decade of this millennium? Even less predictable was its meteoric fall to the point where you could find accessories for these games in the discount bin for mere cents.

And just like mobile gaming and the MOBA genre, few could ever expect gamers to suddenly have a taste for games that make you rage and scream like never before. Just look at the reception the newly-released PS4 title Bloodborne has received since releasing. Despite being a game that most will struggle to complete, and many will drop due to its difficulty, it is already a critically acclaimed title and one of the highest rated Action RPG games in recent years.

How can that be, you ask? Here are four reasons why…

Hard games are more satisfying.

Even if you’re not a soccer (or football) fan, you probably heard all about Brazil’s final defeat in the 2014 World Cup. Despite playing on their own soil, and being of the most feared names in international football, they were completely dismantled by a German side in a way that had both Brazilian players and fans literally weeping.

Even though Germany themselves are an excellent team, it was quite gratifying for them to know they not only beat a powerful team, but also did it in front of a sea of yellow jerseys with an incredible 7-1 result.

That is what it’s all about when playing tough games. If you consider yourself a skilled gamer, there’s something captivating about playing a seemingly-unbeatable game where the odds are against you. It’s why after defeating a boss in Dark Souls, or completing a stage in Mega Man, you feel like your diligence and tenacity paid off. It’s an experience that doesn’t compare to games that are still fun but don’t require nearly as much skill to beat.

Hard games have little to no hand-holding.

While many gamers appreciate lengthy tutorials that explain the gameplay step by step, some of of us don’t care much for it. So when we’re forced through these hand-holding sections, we can’t help but throw our hands up in frustration. Although Assassin’s Creed gamers are notorious for this, it was quite disappointing to see The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword do so much hand-holding.

Do we really need a game intro that takes hours before letting you finally do things on your own? Or how about reminding us what an item is for the first time we pick it up after playing our file again, even if it’s an item we’ve collected dozens of times already? It’s then no surprise that gamers today are flocking to titles that, instead of holding your hand and showing you everything, force you to learn on your own.

Which leads to the next reason…

Hard games force us to learn and adapt.

This is possibly one of the most important reasons why games like Dark Souls and Bloodborne are so popular. Instead of feeding you information in tutorials, they toss you into the world and expect you to learn how to play yourself. Even if you look online for tips and “how to” videos, there is still plenty of challenge involved actually taking down a tough foe yourself.

The two games mentioned both have two gameplay elements that make a hard game fun: good combat and a punishing world. Suffice to say, the first time you fight a boss you will rarely defeat it in either of these two games. Instead, you’ll have to learn its moves and figure out what you’re doing wrong before finally coming out victorious.

At the same, time you’re never told if you’re going in the right direction or straight into a den of high-level enemies ready to tear you apart.

Hard games give us something to brag about.

Let’s face it: anyone can get through the average Call of Duty campaign, reach high levels on the popular match-3 games, or have an amazing village on Clash of Clans. It’s not that most games these days are bad or don’t have their own challenges, they’re quite simply not that difficult and can be mastered by just about any gamer. On the other hand, when you tell someone that you actually beat Dark Souls or solved every puzzle on Braid without looking online, gamers who know how tough the said task is can’t help but show respect.

What’s interesting is this is how it was in 8-bit and 16-bit era when difficulty was used to make sure games lasted longer. From Mega Man and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, to Ghosts n Goblins and Battletoads, those of us who grew up in the NES days know how great it felt to complete these tough games. Even more satisfying, however, was going back to your friends and bragging to them that you finally did it, which would often be met with either disbelief or praise.

[su_note]Learn to develop all types of games at the School of Game Design at the New York Film Academy. Campuses in New York and Los Angeles.[/su_note]