Give Me a "Real" Challenge

“If you’ve not the cred you ought be getting, perhaps augment your difficulty setting.”
The Gamer Code; Chapter 2, Verse 1

If you're into games and you haven't given this one a shot yet, you probably should.

If you're into games and you haven't given this one a shot yet, you probably should.

“Say, Wren, what difficulty did you play The Last of Us on?” 

My hackles rose. I knew where this was going. Gamers don’t ask that question to start a friendly conversation. 

“Easy.” I could have lied, but I shouldn’t have to, so I didn’t.

The gamer, a co-worker, scoffed. I expected that.

“So: you didn’t really play it.”

I expected that too.

In just about everything else you do in life, when you start at the beginning, you have nothing to be ashamed of. When you learn to read and write, you learn your ABCs. Not so in gaming. If the rules of gamercred applied to literacy, you’d have to start by correctly spelling and pronouncing “hyperbole.”

Dara O'Brian, on video game difficulty and design. Some of his themes aren't for kids, folks, but then neither is Grand Theft Auto V.

The bulk of early video games started as arcade games. They were short and hard to beat because they were limited by the technology of the times. Now games can be more than just something to beat. Technology has taken leaps and bounds and we can do more with medium. The Last of Us is the very moving story of a man learning to trust and care for others in a world that had gotten well out of his control—and I wanted to experience the entire story for myself without getting spoiled. I’m a busy person, and I only had a day to spend on it, so I set it on easy mode and powered through.

“But that’s not real,” my co-worker actually tried to tell me. “You don’t have to, like, conserve ammo or scavenge for stuff. Stuff is everywhere.”

It’s a game, dude. Games are, by definition, not real.

But, insanely, my co-worker is a portrait of the typical gamer attitude toward game difficulty. Many gamers believe you can only be a gamer if you’re good at games. Playing to experience the story is almost blasphemous.  Again, I think this comes back to gamercred boiling down to commitment. The consensus among many gamers is that if you were really committed to games, you would be better at them. Right?

Well, that’s like saying if you were really committed to sports you’d be good at all of them. And I don’t think that Wayne Gretzky would do well rushing the Argos' defensive line.

Wren Guilmain


Wren Guilmain is a gamer by just about any arbitrary definition. As a self-professed BioWare fangirl, Wren loves her RPGs and Action-Adventures. To her, games are the next evolution of storytelling: "It's like a book that's trying to kill me; I have to solve puzzles and stay alive to find out what happens."

Check Out These Links:
Dirty Rectangles -  As they put it: "a collective of Ottawa based game designers and artists committed to the exploration of games as a medium of expression."
Penny Arcade - It's not just about video games anymore, but it's still worth exploring.
Joystiq - Where Wren goes for video game news.