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Game difficulty "gatekeeping" is bullshit, and here's why

Gifmaker

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And no, I don't mean to say that "gatekeeping" about video game difficulty is a shitty thing to do; rather, it's a bullshit notion to say that people who acknowledge the achievement of higher difficulties are "gatekeeping". The reason for me to post this thread was this tweet by one of our major companies:



Yeah, alright. The tweet is not wrong per say. But what's the message here, exactly? "You can still achieve the same thing as other people, even though you did it in a less impressive and objectively worse and less proficient fashion"? So... how can it be seen as the same accomplishment if the performance was measurably inferior?
Or, as I put it in response to that tweet: running 100 meters is still running 100 meters even if it takes you 5 minutes to do so, but it's not exactly gonna get you into the Olympics! Of course, people would respond with moving goalposts like: "BuT nOt EvErYoNe WaNtS tO gEt InTo ThE oLyMpIcS", which is factually true of course, but that's hardly the point. The point is that if you were to compare two runners sprinting 100 meters, and one takes 10 seconds to do it while the other takes 5 minutes, the latter has hardly accomplished something to write home about. Should the first runner "brag" about it? Probably not, but the second runner should definitely not insist on being compared favorably to the first one, or even worse start to believe that somehow, they accomplished the same thing. Because they didn't.

And that's okay.

I feel like this is the most confusing part about this whole discussion for me: people who accuse others of gatekeeping are so vehement about their opinion that I can't help but wonder why it's so important for them. They claim that game difficulty is not relevant and thus nothing to brag about, then why do they freaking care about it that much? Why not just accept that there are people who are simply better at that stupid game than you are and move on? Why does it matter so much to them that game difficulty should not matter to anybody that they are so up in arms about this whole thing? Can't they accept that people who beat the game at a higher difficulty are probably better than them? Does the knowledge that there are higher difficulty settings in the game which they don't dare to touch somehow embarass them? Why do they care so much about it? And why do they care so much that other people shouldn't care?

I am genuiely puzzled by this phenomenon. That... concentrated outcry of inferiority, people who seemingly try to silence anyone who might be above average. Do these people really feel so bad about themselves that they desperately need other people not to feel good about themselves and their (evidentially existing) skills in order not to feel left behind? I don't get it. And the reason I don't get it is because I am not a pro gamer. I am average, and usually I don't stand a chance against more professional gamers. I suck at FPS, I suck at Rocket League, and I have a friend who I have never beaten in Smash Bros. ever since Brawl because he is just so damn good with his stupid Pit that I will never overcome his skills. I acknowledge this, and I am fine with it. I don't feel like a pouting child who will cry about it and point fingers at a gamer better than me just because I think that makes them a meaniehead somehow.
Don't get me wrong: I am not in favor of abandoning game difficulty or whatever. Accessability is a good thing, and if a game incorporates lots of different modes for people of all skill levels to enjoy, that's fine with me. But what I frown upon is this "victimized" notion to insist on that you are just as good as anybody else who beat the same game even if you played on Easy and they played on Hard. You are not. And you should not feel like you are, because that'd be delusional. You can still feel fine about beating the game, you can still be happy about enjoying it and all that. But you should by all means also accept reality and not fight it; anything else cannot be good for your mental health in the long run.

One or two years ago, Mike Matei got a lot of shit from people because he tweeted that if you beat an old SNES game like Castlevania IV with emulators and savegames, you did not by any stretch "beat" the game. And as someone who only beat Castlevania IV with savegames, I gotta say: he's right. I played through the game, yes; but I did not overcome the challenges of the game through the means the developers intended. I did not "beat" the game and its challenges. Accept your own limits, people. Don't go on the internet and start debating on principles just because you cannot admit defeat. Nobody wants to take your fun away when you play games on easier difficulties (as I do). But if you participate in these accusations of "gatekeeping", you are actively trying to take away from other people: their skills, their achievements, and their rights to feel accomplished for them. Don't be that insecure kind of person. If beating the difficulty's challenge doesn't matter to you, more power to you. But don't take it away from people it does matter to, just because they feel different about it and because virtue signaling companies tell you to. They don't care about you as a person or the difficulty you play at one bit; they only care about your money.
 
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Miles708

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Sep 11, 2019
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I'm not sure the tweet is about the argument you're making here, so I guess it's just as a starting point of discussion.

I'll try to be as brief as possible as I don't have the strenght for long posts, so:
  1. Some games (like Souls games, Ninja Gaiden games and so on) are 100% designed around their difficulty, and you have to account for that
  2. Other games are simply bullshit, and you need to account for that too
  3. Stylish gaming (like speedrunning, endless combos, no-die runs etc.) is an art in itself
  4. Cheating, at least offline, is legit gaming
  5. Using save states, is legit gaming
  6. Glitching the game to pass difficulty spikes, is legit gaming
Deal with it.
 
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TheCockatrice

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Jun 16, 2019
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Five bucks says Elden Ring now has an easy difficulty mode.

That being said, games should be however the developers intended but the problem is developers no longer have any say in it but producers and corporations do. I'm all in on accesibility and giving everyone a chance at finishing a game but if you're going to disregard the crowd that prefers a challenge in the process, then you're just a bunch of idiots.
 

Gifmaker

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Is this just a really long metaphor for something actually meaningful?
I don't know about it being meaningful, I'm trying to express my confusion with why people insist on this stuff so much. I think that "Everyone's a winner, there are no wrong ways to enjoy a game!" approach is just incredibly insincere and only serves to teach people to be less ambitious and feel like victims too easily.

Nevan Nevan Hard disagree. I cannot help but be impressed when seeing highly professional performances on some games, like certain kinds of speedruns or no hit/death runs. Especially if it's a game I know well and have a grasp at how hard it must be to perform that way.
 

BabyfaceRe

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Jun 12, 2020
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That's one hell of an essay brother!

The Olympics comparison is extremely weak. Because if 2 ppl complete a game, one on easy one on hard they have a lot more in common than someone who runs a 10 second 100m and a 5min 100m. The reason for this is the essence of the game remains the same across difficulties unless it was specifically designed otherwise. This is called game design.

There arent many games where difficulty (or lack thereof) is essential to the game experience. Souls being a prime example, where high difficulty is baked in to the experience, making it easy makes the design fundamentally different.

Your other misconception is that playing a game on harder difficulty makes you 'better', which is honestly kinda laughable. Difficulty is a choice with many factors at play. My friend ALWAYS plays on the hardest difficulty because he LOVES the challenge AND the bragging rights, he is certainly not 'better' at games than me. We can discuss the games in depth because the mechanics, gameplay, story etc are the same. The main difference is that it just takes him longer to finish games than me meaning I end up playing more game than him.

I just finished my first run on hades at 7 heat as another friend just beat it for the first time. We spent hours talking about the game and the difference in difficulty disnt stunt the conversation once. People who complete games on super hard difficulty and want a pat on the back are pretty sad imo.

Unless difficulty is baked into the experience then all games should be as accessible as possible imo. Ppl who want Sekiro to have an easy mode and equally as sad as ppl who think they are 'better' than others for completing on a high difficulty.
 

Punished Miku

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Jan 13, 2018
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Do these people really feel so bad about themselves that they desperately need other people not to feel good about themselves and their (evidentially existing) skills in order not to feel left behind?
I don't think the conversation about gatekeeping was ever genuinely about games difficulty. It was a proxy war for allowing people that have no real knowledge, skill or credibility to speak on games and to influence games when they really have no qualifications to speak on the subject with any authority.

For over a decade there's been a concentrated effort to dismantle the entire idea of "gatekeeping." Usually when a gate is put up, it's to protect something important and vulnerable from some type of invader or threat. Gates are typically good things.

Over the last 10+ years, there's been a consistent campaign to demonize the entire concept of gatekeeping itself. It's usually pushed through in the context of defending "gamer girls," or trying to make gaming more inclusive. But really the only reason anyone "gatekeeps" is to just try and assess authenticity or validity when people talk. For example, when you see a journalist talk about a game in question, you may wonder if they know what they're talking about, or if they have a history of valid opinions about games in the past. You basically are trying to figure out if they're telling you the truth, or have any qualifications that give them a valuable and trustworthy opinion. When you demonize the ability for a community to assess qualifications or authenticity, then the gate is open - and the hoard rushed in immediately. And what did they do when they got here? They started ranting about how Gone Home is a 10/10 game (even though their friends made it and they didn't disclose that). They started advocating for shorter and simpler games since they get their games for free and don't actually enjoy challenging or complex games. They started shifting the entire discussion of games into cultural issues that they actually care about, since they're really not that into games and couldn't pass even a minimal authenticity check.

Some people are braggards and just flex their high score or something, but this is honestly mostly just fiction. Gatekeeping is about protecting a community, and elevating voices of people that are qualified to speak on the subject. The gate got broken down a long time ago though. The invasion already took place. We're currently being occupied. Now it's the long guerrilla war of attrition. The borders were broken down 10 years ago.
 
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Captain Toad

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I still believe all games should have one and only one difficulty. I don’t care if it's easy or extremely difficult or anywhere in-between, whatever makes sense for that particular game.

Many of the best gameplay experiences still do this from Mario to Dragon Quest to Dark Souls.
 
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Boglin

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It seems there has been a glorious melding of the participation trophy mentality along with a cheater's mentality in the gaming community.

It doesn't matter how you get to finish line. Whether it be through a practically god mode easy difficulty, cheats, save states or any other means, it's valid and you should be recognized for it.
 

Danjin44

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Not all games meant to appeal to everyone, should I feel "left behind" just because there is no offline mode in games like FF14?

We have 1000 up on 1000 games can appeal for different players, I wish people wouldn't make drama out of 1 from 1000 games that doesn't appeal to them.
 
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KyoZz

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I think the more option the better, as long as everyone has a setting to play with.

Anyway I saw this:

Big Brother Reaction GIF by MOODMAN



Don't come at me I'm pro games, not brands.
 
Mar 28, 2021
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Five bucks says Elden Ring now has an easy difficulty mode.

That being said, games should be however the developers intended but the problem is developers no longer have any say in it but producers and corporations do. I'm all in on accesibility and giving everyone a chance at finishing a game but if you're going to disregard the crowd that prefers a challenge in the process, then you're just a bunch of idiots.
i wouldn't be surprised if ER has easy mode. with Sekiro they dumbed the game down too much. it's too forgiving. i hope Elden Ring is more like Bloodborne/Dark Souls where you're just thrown in the deep end without even so much as "good luck".
 

theclaw135

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Fans of several genres emphatically do not want the minimum entry barrier reduced. To them trying to expand the audience isn't worth the risk of a shallow experience nobody likes.

Traditional fighting games are deeply rooted in what Street Fighter 2 popularized. Games that deviate too far from SF2 tend to be regarded as different genres (sports fighters, party fighters, etc), and develop separate communities.

Maze games, shmups, etc, are usually more about points. If they even have an ending. I'll agree making such titles longer or easier defeats the purpose.
 
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elliot5

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I still believe all games should have one and only one difficulty. I don’t care if it's easy or extremely difficult or anywhere in-between, whatever makes sense for that particular game.

Many of the best gameplay experiences still do this from Mario to Dragon Quest to Dark Souls.
a tailor made difficulty with accessibility options seems to be the way to go imo rather than some arbitrary difficulty slider that is typically just "make health more bigger" on enemies.

though some games like DOOM Eternal get difficulty settings right by actually changing the AI behavior rather than just being you take more damage and deal less damage.
 

99Luffy

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Developers definitely mess up the difficulty on some games, and it ruins the experience. The people that say gun fights in Uncharted games are boring are playing on normal difficulty where theres no strategy. And thats on ND.
And then theres games where you just dont know wtf the developer was thinking when they made the difficulty levels. Like the medium difficulty in Diablo 3. You cant die on the normal difficulty. And it got hilarious as the game progressed where there were like a dozen difficulty levels that had no player count online.
 
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Raven117

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Just depends on the game design. If difficulty is a core design choice, then no difficulty slider. If it’s just “harder more Hp enemies” then difficultly slider is fine.

the older I get. The more I lose patience with artificially difficult games. But souks games and their ilk are my favorites. The difference? It’s how the game is designed.
 
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Maxwell Jacob Friedman

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All games shouldnt have a difficulty setting and here is why: because the scale from easy, medium, hard etc sucks. The hardest difficulty makes enemies bullet sponges and the main character paper thing, whilst on easy its reverse and give countless resources. All games should be like fromsoft etc where the game is literally tailored a certain way and there is no difficulty slider. Gaming should be all about learning how to do/become better and not by adjusting a slider. Fromsoft have had it right all along because they dont nerf opponents and enemies its up to the player to figure it out. Having a slider devalues the game and what the creators intended.
 
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KhrisNF

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Not everyone can stomach horror movies or bullshit spicy foods, others thrive on them. Same applies with games. There're so many games out there ffs. Just play what you can/like. Why insist on playing Cup Head or Dark Souls if you cant handle them? Seems like a deeper rooted issue to be honest.
 

Duchess

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A shame that adaptive difficulty never tends to work out well.

What I mean by that is, the better you play, the harder the game gets. If you're having a rough old time of it, the game gets easier.

The trouble is, if you're failing due to something really stupid, like missing jumps, it then makes all the enemies in the game stupidly enough to take out, which isn't what you want.
 
Aug 6, 2010
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Five bucks says Elden Ring now has an easy difficulty mode.

That being said, games should be however the developers intended but the problem is developers no longer have any say in it but producers and corporations do. I'm all in on accesibility and giving everyone a chance at finishing a game but if you're going to disregard the crowd that prefers a challenge in the process, then you're just a bunch of idiots.
Of course there is going to be an easy mode, you will be able go online and summon for help and/or use the game NPCs.
i wouldn't be surprised if ER has easy mode. with Sekiro they dumbed the game down too much. it's too forgiving. i hope Elden Ring is more like Bloodborne/Dark Souls where you're just thrown in the deep end without even so much as "good luck".
Is this a joke? I'm asking not because I find Sekiro unforgiving but because most people that play it get filtered by the second main boss and first optional boss.
Most players would agree that Sekiro is harder than any game in the Souls series.
 
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SlimeGooGoo

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All (good designed) games are supposed to require some sort of skill at something, and challenge the player to become better at that skill.

Olympic (games) are exactly that. All sports are exactly that.

Video games should ideally be like that, unfortunately that are too many "auteurs" and SJWs that internally hate games and suck at anything that requires testosterone and adrenaline.
And so they try to lower everyone to their level so that they can fell good about themselves.
 
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OP I don't even know who you're mad at or talking to. Nobody actually cares what difficulty you beat a game on. Pretty cringe thread. Who cares what some low-paid employee trying to be SELF-AWARE and IN-TOUCH is tweeting out on their company's twitter? Obviously they're trying to flex that beating a game on easy is still beating a game. I mean yeah, it is, but you prob a bitch.

Just keep the beta males away from my Dark Souls.
 

nkarafo

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I still believe all games should have one and only one difficulty. I don’t care if it's easy or extremely difficult or anywhere in-between, whatever makes sense for that particular game.

Many of the best gameplay experiences still do this from Mario to Dragon Quest to Dark Souls.
100% agree here.

Whenever i have to select a difficulty i always wonder, what is the "correct" one? The one the developer mostly balanced the game for? I assume it's "normal" most of the time as the name suggests. So i'm always using that.
 

Danjin44

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Most players would agree that Sekiro is harder than any game in the Souls series.
One reason some people find Sekiro harder because they overly depended on summoning other players for help and second reason Sekiro is an action game, is not RPG that you can grind souls to increase your states.

For me personally always played Souls series offline, so I was very comfortable with Sekiro and I'm HUGE fan of parry based combat, Its one of my reason why LS is my main in MH.
 

LazyParrot

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Many of the best gameplay experiences still do this from Mario to Dragon Quest to Dark Souls.
Dark Souls has multiple difficulty settings, it's just that you don't select them in a menu. Not using a shield makes the game harder. Focusing on magic instead of melee weapons makes the game significantly easier. Summoning help turns most encounters into a joke.
 
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DonkeyPunchJr

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That’s like saying that beating Michael Jordan in 1-on-1 basketball while he’s blindfolded and in a wheelchair is still beating Michael Jordan.

no, you are less of a man if you consider that to be an achievement and you probably have a really, really tiny penis
 
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Crimson_Fate

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Not all people are capable of playing on "Normal" levels.
You have some people with physical or mental disabilities needing modified controllers or more time to do things and you may have some really young kids who just want to play the same game they see others playing without dying every 5 seconds.

I generally don't really care what other people do or how they choose to play through their games.

There are usually different achievements for playing at higher difficultiy levels if dicerning your gaming prowness to others is important to you .