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Are modern video games too easy?

Have all modern video games become too easy and predictable or are there just more of a variety of gamers at our disposal?

Student Blog by

Stuart Ryan

 

In recent years, a large majority of people believe that modern video games have become far easier than that of what they used to be. This is true in many cases, and hardly surprising, as there is an extreme amount of competition between major titles which has created the need for video games to be entertaining from the moment the player presses the start button.

Are these modern games actually easier?

Gamers nowadays complain a lot about the industry and say that it is suffering from new games being dumbed down and the players hand being “held” along the way. The worst thing about this accusation is the people complaining are usually right. It would be unfair to accuse all modern games being too easy, as some new games manage to deliver a tough and rewarding experience to the players; From Software’s Dark Souls series springs to mind. But it wouldn’t be entirely unfair to call these modern games a stripped down version of what we used to have just a few years back.

Many games depend on a magical line that shows the player were to go at any given time and show him/her exactly what to do. Some games have regenerating health, where the player can just hide behind a wall and wait a couple of seconds while the enemy is blindly firing at him. Other games give the player access to a huge arsenal of many different types of weapons to choose from without any need to conserve their ammo.

But this is not necessarily a bad thing, or makes these video games bad. Many gamers enjoy this type of game-play, where they can just sit down and enjoy a game without the need for two much thought or strategy. The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim is a good example of these types of games. You have a fantastic world that you can travel almost anywhere, with beautiful graphics and a very good story, but when it comes to the game-play itself, it lacks any real strategy. You just basically keep hitting the same button over and over again while fighting an enemy, while watching your own and the enemies health go down. When you go on a quest, you just look up the quest location on the map, "fast travel" to the exact  location, and usually enter a cave where there is a bunch of necromancers or bandits for you to wipe out. Again, this does not make it a bad game, it just doesn't appeal to every gamer out there.

Many people believe there is a split developing between gamers who only care about mechanics, too gamers who believe that games can be used as a great story telling medium.

Nowadays, games can be considered extremely powerful storytelling devices, in which full motion video has contributed a lot too. Thinking about it now, it’s hard to remember any game in the recent times that hasn’t relied on heavily featured cut scenes, usually to advance the player in the story. This makes the gameplay suffer significantly, either by the gameplay being too short, easy or shallow and leaving nothing to the player’s imagination. Sometimes these cut scenes can also be deceiving to the player, as the main character could have all these amazing moves and abilities in the cut scene but lacks most of them in actual game-play. In Tomb Raider, you could be roaming around an area shooting guys in the head left and right with such ease, and then a cut scene appears in which you, the main character, fails to save someone from a guy with a machete whose back is completely exposed for several seconds.

The main reason I myself don't like too many cut scenes personally, is because it ignores what the main advantage that video games have over other art forms, which is interactivity. When a video game stops and goes to a cut scene, it takes the controller out of the gamers hand and then becomes a movie. Video games have a unique advantage to tell us a story through us interacting with the game world or even using our own imagination to create the stories ourselves.

In my opinion, I think that there are two types of “hard” in video games. There is the normal kind of hard, were you keep getting killed by the same enemy. Then, there is the type of hard where you just sit there and stare at the screen and say something in your own head like “I think I must have missed something a while back ” or “it must be a bug, I need to restart”

I experienced this kind of hard almost every couple of hours in the game Dark Souls. This game forces you to come carefully consider each enemy and environment so you can understand the dangers and there is absolutely no cut scenes that will explain the story or how to win. Actually, the story in Dark Souls I rarely explained, and many different gamers have come up with their own story for the game. Strategy and a lot of patience are the only thing that can lead one to victory in this game. There are other games that have this similar kind of difficulty, like Demon Souls and Outlast to name a few.

The problem with these types of games is that many gamers may not have the time or patience to master these kind of games. In my opinion, there has to be some kind of middle ground between dozens of cut scenes every hour with an arrow pointing the way, too expecting the player to repeat and attempt everything, in every location, over and over again until they are successful.

As we can see, there are modern games today that provide a challenge for those who want it, and it's refreshing to see those challenges available to us. But it's important not to forget that these few games only represent a very small number of many that exist.

Too return to the question at the beginning; Are these modern games too easy? My personal answer is, no, I don't believe they are. Rather, we actually have a huge variety of games available to all types of gamers. Although many have completely removed all but the lowest levels of difficulty, we still see many titles being created that challenge us to our very core. Just like we have good and bad games, we have games with various different difficulty levels that can appeal to all gamers.

Although on average, games can be finished rather quickly, is this because they are easier, or is it just that developers have designed games better and want to make games that we can consistently enjoy without pushing us to a breaking point?

What do you think?

 

 

 

References

10 Modern Trends That Make Gaming Too Easy. 2015. 10 Modern Trends That Make Gaming Too Easy. [ONLINE] Available at: http://whatculture.com/gaming/10-modern-trends-make-gaming-easy.php. [Accessed 24 April 2015].

Video games have gotten too easy - Games Discussion - GameSpot. 2015. Video games have gotten too easy - Games Discussion - GameSpot. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.gamespot.com/forums/games-discussion-1000000/video-games-have-gotten-too-easy-31728063/. [Accessed 24 April 2015].

Are Modern Video Games Too Easy | N4G . 2015. Are Modern Video Games Too Easy | N4G . [ONLINE] Available at: http://n4g.com/news/1483039/are-modern-video-games-too-easy. [Accessed 24 April 2015].

BS: Are Video Games too Easy Now? | ScrewAttack.com. 2015. BS: Are Video Games too Easy Now? | ScrewAttack.com. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.screwattack.com/news/bs-are-video-games-too-easy-now. [Accessed 24 April 2015].

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