Opinion Story

When is it acceptable to play games on “Easy”?

The question came up the other day regarding when is it acceptable to play on easy. Let me tell you, It’s always acceptable to play games on easy and I’m going to explain why. The other day I fired up “The Chaos Engine”, the old top down shooter from the Bitmap Brothers, and got my backside thoroughly handed to me. The Chaos Engine doesn’t have a difficulty setting but somehow how 9 year old me and my younger brother beat this game numerous times in our youth. Getting thoroughly trounced by the game in my 30’s was not fun. I’m sure if I kept at it I would be able to get that skill with the game back. Which leads me nicely into my next point.

Half dead and only the first few screens

Time, I don’t have the the time nowadays to devote to a single game to master it. You could argue that a lot of older games have a higher difficulty due to either design or just sheer clunkiness vs what we are used to nowadays. I want to be able to enjoy the experience of the time that I have playing games, not punish myself repeatedly having to repeat the same sections.

Also a moment ago I touched on the experience of games. I recently acquired Ryse:Son of Rome as part of this month’s Humble Monthly Bundle (Good games, great for charity – Get in there). I was already in the middle of finishing my game of Stellaris but wanting to experience what I heard was a good but short game, I dropped it down to easy. I polished it off within a number of hours, only dying at the final boss fight in my opinion due to somewhat cheaty QTE like mechanics. Did it cheapen the experience for me? Not at all because I went for the story.

Marius Titus disapproves of you playing on Easy

There was a similar epiphany moment with “The Last of us”. My wife’s gaming CV reads, “Sonic the Hedgehog” for the Mega Drive, “Trolls” for the Amiga and “GTA V” on the Xbox so she enjoys a few games but it’s very rare. She played the absolute hell out of “The last of us”, I have never known her become so engrossed in a game that she didn’t come off until 3am in the morning. The phrase “Oh my god, is that the time? I understand now how you lose track!”

But why did she enjoy it? She started it on Normal but it’s a little demanding in places for someone who doesn’t really identify as a gamer. Knock it down to easy, Auto aiming assist kicks in and voila! A non-gamer enjoying what some would consider a flagship gaming title. The easier difficulty allows our hobby to become more inclusive, to bring in more people is essentially the life blood of a hobby. Thanks to The Last of Us, the wife unit has come into the fold and is currently cutting her teeth on some fantasticly accessible games such as Castle crashers, Broforce, Overcooked and Gang Beasts. She’s even threatened to write about them!

I’m not saying you should play on easy, I’m saying it’s up to you but I don’t think there should be a stigma involved. If you want the challenge, knock yourself out I’m not going to stop you. But playing on easy for me is an exercise in enjoyment and inclusiveness. As I so eloquently put it in Discord the other day – “Gaming for me is like a buffet, a little bit of everything”. I’m patenting that phrase.