A few days ago, boogie2988 posted his thoughts on the Cuphead Controversy and difficulty in games: “Is it OK for games to be ‘TOO’ Hard?”

While that video was focused on video games, it inspired me to think about difficulty in games the impact it has on your game’s audience and market. A bit rambling (even for me), but I touch on a number key considerations when thinking about difficulty and how to expand your audience.

Another Perspective on Difficulty in Games

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Eduardo Baraf is a game maker from Mountain View, California. He is married with two boys (5/8) and loves playing games with his family and friends at home. He owns Pencil First Games (Lift Off! Get me off this Planet, The Siblings Trouble, GemPacked Cards) and runs the YouTube channel: Edo’s Game Reviews. Professionally his career spans Video Games, Startups, and VR technology.

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  1. Lewis Pulsipher on October 22, 2017

    Must be my age (66), but I cannot imagine someone saying it’s wrong to create a game that’s too challenging for some or many people. No matter what the game, some possibly small number of people won’t be able to play. I suspect it’s part of rampant egalitarianism, which is behind most of Political Correctness, that requires everything to be reduced to the lowest common denominator so that no one is ever left out no matter how incompetent or lazy or simply unfortunate that they may be.

    On the other hand, I’ve advocated for many years that video games include an “autopilot”, so that when it IS too hard, the player can let the game play the game through that difficult patch, in order to let the player experience the entire game. Simple. (But the outrage from hard-core players that has met my suggestion in the past has been remarkably irrational and often virulent.)

    Now the equivalent in tabletop games may be the impetus to make games highly transparent, that is, make a game so that by the time someone is finished playing it once they know, or at least think they know, how to play well. Than they typically play the game 1 to 3 times and move on to the next game. When you make a highly transparent game you can rarely put significant depth into the game, so we have a sea of shallow games that mostly don’t deserve to be played even once let alone more than three times. But making the game transparent and shallow means a lot more people can play without becoming uncomfortable. Even the whole situation where the majority of games are puzzles turned into parallel competitions is a way of making the games more comfortable for everyone.

    It’s the Age of Comfort after all, people are taught that they should never be uncomfortable. And a lot of people are evidently uncomfortable with the notion that Cuphead is too hard for them to “beat”. I haven’t played it but I have watched an extended play by a YouTuber, and I know I wouldn’t have a prayer – but that doesn’t bother me. Why would it?

    • Eduardo Baraf Author on October 22, 2017

      Thanks for writing this all up, Lewis. I very much enjoyed reading your comments/perspective here.

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