I’ve always loved gaming. And I’ve also always been bad at it. My brother used to have to beat all my bosses for me, I constantly refer to cheat guides and walkthroughs on the internet, and I’ll choose to play on easy mode nine times out of ten.
I don’t think this makes me any less of a gamer though, and really the unskilled gamer is an under-represented sect of the community. I hope that with this column I can bring a little more attention to the underdog with the few achievements and the terrible kill/death ratios.
Recently there has been talk in the gaming industry on the functionality and importance on including an “easy mode” in video games, and whether or not it detracts from the gameplay by making it easier to play. It seems as though the idea of making things simpler is met with crossed arms and shaking heads all around – three games in particular have had some news coverage recently regarding the inclusion of a mode suitable for a lower skill level.
Early last week an interview revealed that Dark Souls developers Namco Bandai is potentially considering adding an “easy mode” to their franchise, either as a patch to the current games or as an addition to future games in the series. However, a negative response to the comments let to an almost instant correction, citing a “miscommunication in the interpretation” and that they had no intentions of adding an easier difficulty to the game. This is a game that I personally would love to play, but I don’t think I ever will attempt it for the pure and simple fact that I know I will be getting nowhere fast.
Also last week Assassin’s Creed III lead designer Alex Hutchinson said that “a lot of games have been ruined by easy modes,” and that “if you have a cover shooter and you switch it to easy and you don’t have to use cover, you kind of broke your game.” While I understand that game mechanics are a huge part of the gameplay, I don’t think that easy modes ruin a game at all. While an easy mode might mean a skilled gamer doesn’t need to use cover and breezes through, an unskilled player will still find it challenging to play.
The upcoming Borderlands 2‘s latest class edition the Mecromancer was initially introduced as “Best Friends Forever” mode, although now has the more infamous label of “Girlfriend Mode” due to a poor choice of words by lead designer John Hemingway. All irritation aside that the easy skill tree was referred to as girlfriend mode, the idea of making Borderlands more accessible is an excellent idea – not only to cajole new players but also to facilitate those of us who need something less complicated in a skill tree; boys and girls alike.
Now, don’t get me wrong; I’m not going to demand some easier difficulty from games labeled “harder”; nor do I think that every game should have difficulties at all. But I do think that it’s a nice thought to make a game more accessible to those of us out there that love the ideas, the gameplay, and the graphics of games but just don’t have the skills to master them.
You can expect from this column the opinions and thoughts of a terrible gamer, that has love for the industry all the same.
Easy Mode is a weekly Gaming Angels column that celebrates those who love the ideas, the gameplay, and the graphics of games but just don’t have the skills to master them, written by our beloved Sarah Ingram a/k/a Ceratopz.