For the most part, nobody has to spend hours redoing insanely hard levels anymore. If a game gives you too much trouble, you can just change the difficulty setting. Call me old fashioned, but I won't do it. Guess what setting my 12 year-old stepson plays games on though?
To tell you the truth, it irks me. I wasn't raised to lower the difficulty on my games. Few games had the option. Back in my day, you just suffered through Ghouls n' Ghosts and Battletoads. If it was too hard, too bad. You had to earn your sense of accomplishment.
Alas, my childhood is not the same as his. He can change the difficulty setting whenever he wants.
Why would he do it, I asked myself. I never adjust games to the easy setting. Perhaps he learned it from his father, but he seems as old fashioned as I am, so I doubt he learned it from either of us.
So, during dinner one night, I asked my stepson why he sets the difficulty setting to easy, and he gave me a very practical answer: difficult games frustrate him. He doesn't like to feel frustrated playing a video game so, if he can adjust the difficulty, he does.
This explains a lot about his gaming preferences. His favorite games are Traveller's Tales Lego games. Not only are they fun, but the puzzles are easy. It doesn't hurt that these games are based on franchises he knows and loves.
He told me about a few games he finds particularly frustrating. On the list were Portal 2, Batman: Arkham City, and Tomb Raider: the Definitive Edition. In Portal 2, he didn't like piecing together a solution but always coming up short in his execution. He had to play through Batman: AC on easy and then went through it a second time on normal. About half-way through Tomb Raider: DE, he stopped playing because the game was too hard, even on "easy".
"But isn't it part of the fun of playing a video game feeling frustrated?" I asked him.
"What about Battlefield 4 then? Don't you die constantly in that game?"
"Yeah, I die all the time."
"Why don't you give up on that game?"
He came up with two reasons. First, he plays Battlefield 4 with his Dad. It's their game. When they play together, he doesn't feel so frustrated that he wants to give up completely. Plus, it's more fun to play with another person.
His answer seemed right on the money. When we play any Halo game, he wants to play together. He follows me around rather than taking the lead and insists we set the difficulty to easy. The enemies still feel too hard to him, but my perfectly average FPS skills help him cope. When things are easy, he's happiest. This flies in the face of how I think people should experience accomplishment in games. But, he's right.
We each got into this hobby for our own reasons. He should be allowed to get what he wants out of gaming, not what I want to get out of gaming. Imposing my value system about how to experience accomplishment is as ridiculous as he trying to do that to me because feeling accomplished is a subjective experience. I would grant any grandmother that loves Dark Soul II and every teenage girl who plays Titanfall that same courtesy.
Perhaps, in the name of being an accepting gamer, I should let my irked feelings go, learn to empathize with my stepson, and play my games on an "easy" setting. Ironically enough, now I wish I could change the setting on how difficult that task sounds to me.