games / Columns

The Gaming Rs: The Right, Wrong & Ridiculous of The ‘Get Good’ Syndrome

October 21, 2017 | Posted by Stewart Lange
Dark Souls III

Hello everyone and welcome to this week’s Gaming Rs! It’s another stressful one as I’ve moved house this last week and although my internet has moved with me, it’s currently registering at a mighty 0.2mp/s so my reviews of South Park, WWE 2k18 on the Switch and Gran Turismo will have to wait as South Park needed a 168mb update and it’ll be finished sometime around Christmas. Thankfully I’ve not had the time to look up the dirtier side of the internet, I’m not sure my body would remember how to cope with having to wait for images to buffer. Now, I’m not sure why any of you needed to know that information, and hopefully you all ignore me. Like last week, there’s a theme to this week, which you’ll probably have figured out by now so just skip down if you want to see what that is. As always, I encourage you to leave a comment sharing your thoughts on the column! I’ve probably gone on long enough that I should look back at last week for a moment.

Reader Feedback:

Last week, I looked at the Right, wRong and Ridiculous of Microtransactions. As I guessed, there wasn’t really much in the way of support for them.

Stephen Ross: To get a better picture of fair loot boxes you probably should have included some words on Overwatch and Dota. Both games loot boxes are purely cosmetic with no impact to the game.No mention of Battlefront 2 either.

Shut up, Master Racer. (Stephen is a friend, folks. Calm down.)

unhappy_meal: Y’awl know there’s a Sega Genesis/Mega Drive classics compilation on Steam with like 60 games, right??? I bought it on sale, maybe for $20. There’s also a Master system package, and some CD games. Methinks you can also buy games individually too…

Now I do! All I need now is a Mac that isn’t dead so I can actually reinstall Steam.

Crackhead_Bob: I was sick of microtransactions before they even became a thing in the AAA gaming space. Back years ago I used to play Maplestory (grindy Korean MMO, but was cute and would run on any old potato PC). Anywho, it was free2play. Of course the microtransactions were a thing under the “only cosmetic, nothing that effects the gameplay” line. And it was true at the time, little by little though the pay2win elements started to creep their way in. Every time just pushing the line ever more slightly. Well, fast forward to 2017, and the game is still limping along, though every aspect of it is entirely based on who can spend the most amount of money. The stats on your gear are gained by gambling real cash. Every piece of gear. Last I knew there was something like 15-20 gear slots per character. And to get a single piece of quality equipment it could take upwards of $100, and that’s not an exaggeration. And this is the same trend we see now in AAA. Starts off not too bad, and now with the loot crates, the line is being pushed.

As Mr. Horse would say… No sir, I don’t like it.

MMO’s are the absolute worst for this kind of thing, as illustrated by the next comment.

Khal: Check out www.gemstone,net for a game based on all money now.

It used to be subscription only 14.95 for ONE characters, 29.95 for Premium (up to 10), and then a Platinum server with unlimited (but a new world and you cannot import your characters).

Then came pay events, pay quests, now the F2P option exists but has all sorts of paywalls, and now they even have paywalled areas to grind.

The amazing part is people pay this and there used to be a robust silvers/cash market. When I cashed out my account about six-seven years ago I made $25,000 USD.

Oh, by the way, Gemstone is a TEXT game.

World of Warcraft was just as bad at one point. Heck, one person sold her body for enough gold for a flying mount.

Sold her body. Like, that actually makes me glad to not have full internet access. Some people always have to take things too far, don’t they?

A lot of you were talking about loot crates and Ultimate Team being a form of gambling and I absolutely agree. I think the odds should be published openly and there should be safeguards in place to prevent children from spending their parents money openly. Just a thought really. It’s fucking exploitative.

Enough about that, though. This week, I’m going to look at game difficulty. In the wake of Cuphead and the likes of Dark Souls, game difficulty is actually an extremely divisive subject and I’m going to completely solve every issue surrounding it, RIGHT HERE, ON 411!

The Right:

I think it’s pretty fair to say that most people like to feel challenged when they game. You want the evidence? Take a look at the retro resurgence, with people yearning for the difficulty of the old 16-bit games. If that isn’t good enough for you, then check out the loyal fanbase the Souls games has gathered, or the success of the recent Cuphead. There is undoubtedly a huge market of gamers looking for that sort of challenge and are happy blistering their fingers and grinding their way through shot after shot at the same bad guys. That’s really all there is to it, though. The level of satisfaction that is achieved by finally defeating a level, boss or section that has been beating you over and over is unparalleled in gaming and like drugs, you just have to go after the bigger thrills. I’ve heard, of course. But seriously, it’s this mentality that has given rise to the likes of Souls and Cuphead. The same gamers that struggled with Sonic the Hedgehog 25 years ago now have 25 years of gaming experience. Kids are being born with some sort of controller in their hands. They don’t need to learn how to use a controller with over 20 button functions on it. The difficult games of the past aren’t as hard anymore.

The wRong:

For every gamer who thrives on the agony of defeat knowing it’ll make succeeding that much sweeter, there’s a gamer who just wants to experience the fun of the game. It’s not always about being bad at the game, although that can be a factor. A lot of the time, it’s because of other commitments. Work, children, real life relationships are all things that can hamper gaming time and with the number of titles coming out that can require hours upon hours of grinding, it’s unrealistic that everyone will get the same experience. Take Shadow of War as an example of this. It’s not an especially hard game, but there’s moments in the game that are somewhat challenging. Given the fact that Assassin’s Creed comes out next week, there’s a very real chance that the remainder of the game will be too hard to finish in time. I’m not suggesting that I want to wish the rest of the game away, nor that the rest of the game being easier would magically give me the time to complete it either; but the grind of this game compared to the first does feel like it owes something to the Souls series. There are so many intertwining objectives it’s not as easy as just battering through the story mode either. The other side of the coin here is actual ability. Not just in a “get good” way. Some people physically can’t do certain things as well as others. I’m sure I’m not the worst case but I have mild arthritis and it means my hands can get cramped up. See- fighting games. Certain games offering a difficulty tier would help out a number of people for a number of reasons.

The Ridiculous:

The Ridiculous here is just the sheer mentality of “get good.” Now, I hate to slander here, or make assumptions, but if you’re the sort of person who pumps 400+ hours into a Dark Souls game, there’s almost 100% chance that someone who maybe isn’t as good at the Souls game has spent the same amount of time doing well at something else. You know, outside of your own four walls. So, before insulting someone over their ability, or possible lack thereof, ask yourself this- can I play the guitar as well as them? That person who didn’t get to level 20 in Destiny 2 in week one… they made $500 at work instead, that they can buy themselves something nice with. If you hadn’t noticed, I end this column the same way every week, with the sentence “don’t be a dick.” Now, I put it there because it’s how I sign off my Progress wrestling podcast, given that it’s their first rule, but it’s words to live by. Competitive gaming is totally fine, but don’t be a dick for the sake of it. So what if someone can’t defeat a certain boss in Souls. So what if they haven’t been able to run a 6 hour plus raid in an MMO. They may not be as good at Warcraft as you but I bet there’s a knowledge exchange that could happen somehow. Maybe look for that instead of throwing insults around.

What do you think about gaming difficulty? Is it easy for you to breeze through the hardest of challenges? Or do you like to enjoy the story without too much blood, sweat and tears? It’s a tough line. It all comes back to last week’s play to win argument though, no matter which side of the fence you fall on, don’t pay to win. It’s the biggest rule of all.

See you all in seven and remember, don’t be a dick!