In praise of easy mode
One of the best things about the current generations of consoles is the proliferation of easy mode. Most modern games now have a difficulty setting for us wimps out there. Some call it casual. Some call it novice. Some call it beginner. I call it my go-to setting for playing games in 2013.
See, I get all the challenge I need from life. I have a job. I have a six-month old. I went through grad school while working full time. I serve on the board of directors for a nonprofit. I had to re-learn how to drive at 37 after not driving since I was 19. I got plenty of challenges in my life. I don’t need video games to give me a sense of mastery and accomplishment.
I’m not knocking those who play games on hard. I understand the appeal. I forced myself to play Arkham City on Normal, and there is something to dying repeatedly until you figure out the write combination of moves to approach a situation. The Nintendo DS Shin Megami games are similarly hard but fair, and there is something very satisfying about figuring out how to get through an incredibly tough section or boss fight without dying. Likewise, easy mode can be super boring if it allows you to flail about and still kill everything in sight. I made the mistake of putting in god codes on Saint’s Row the 3rd so that my character can kill everything in sight and never die, and it has effectively ruined the game for me. I know I can’t die, and it’s sucked all the fun out of progressing through the game because I don’t even have to try.
Most of the time I sit down to play video games, however, I don’t want to have my reflexes challenged. I don’t want to have to memorize the patterns of a level so I can get through without dying. I don’t want to get my aim down so I can take out all the guards with headshots. I just want to explore a different world and progress through the story. And the older I get, the lower my tolerance for frustration is. I don’t want to die twenty times trying to clear an area or make a jump. I get maybe thirty minutes to play games three or four times a week. I don’t want to spend that time getting frustrated an dying. If I want frustration, I can get that from real life. I just want to run around a virtual world and feel like a superhero – is that so wrong? So God bless easy mode, which has made gaming fun for me even after I’ve gotten way to old to still be doing this shit.