Thursday, January 19, 2012

The honest 'No Challenge' gamer

Wow. I just found a post by someone who openly says they want something that I suspect alot of other gamers do, but just can't openly admit it. Link.

And to quote it
I'll continue to freely admit that I don't want challenge in my games. I want a story about how my character starts awesome (born the chosen one) and then goes about being awesome (fated to save the world). It's already known and decided that the world will be saved, the story is just how that comes about. The drama comes from the NPCs who can't or won't hop on the train of inevitability to awesometown.

I want the game to be a sycophant for me. In the movie Minority Report where there is that virtual "arcade" (or whatever you want to call it) where people are in pods where their fantasies are being enacted, crowds shouting adorations, etc. That's what I want out of an RPG.
 See, I hate the game style, but because this guy is honest and open I think that's valid. It's where someone wants this, but they pretend they are gaming in some other way, that strikes me as denial. A kind of gamer closet, if you will.

I'm actually thankful of coming across this. So many times I suspect someone just wants the above but wont admit it - I try and describe it but they will tip toe around it, even as they use a bunch of techniques to make the above happen. Now I don't have to describe it in abstract - I have a living, breathing example of a real person embracing this gaming. One of the things that kept it all in the closet is only being able to refer to it in abstract before. Hell, even the word sycophancy - I've wanted to use that exact word! Perfect example!


  1. This touched me. I hope you check your old posts for comments, because I'm gonna pour my heart out here.

    Games are possibly entirely about escape for me. My life is not pleasant, and one of my deepest fears is that my dependence on games to make it bearable is one of the chief things that keeps it so unpleasant; the alternative is that it's so bad that debilitating escape is still better than the alternative, and I can't say which of these possibilities is the worse one.

    So, coming from where I am, serious defeat in a game can be crushingly depressing for me. I just recently got into Team Fortress 2 after a lifetime of avoiding FPS's (for work reasons, believe it or not), and was stunned at how cathartic it was to just frenetically kill people with only a slap on the wrist consequence for failure. On the other hand, I've spent a shameful number of hours trying to get into Civilization III, and ragequit every single time when the AIs all squeezed me out during the first wonder race. I'm paradoxically most drawn to games about spending huge amounts of time constructing elaborate base systems but I never have the stomach to stick them out when the going gets tough- I have a vision in my head, I'm trying to create it, and when the game determines to thwart me, I can't adapt. The enjoyment is gone and there's just no motivation any more. Yet, I demonstrably will not play easy games. They are not interesting. I don't know what that means.

    There are a very small number of game types I can enjoy without high difficulty and these mostly deal with adult subjects. I used to hear the phrase "adolescent power fantasy" thrown around a lot, but I think what I want is a thing that's not been named yet. An adolescent power fantasy, in my mind, is about enjoying power without really needing to worry about its source, or the consequences of its use. Great Power without Great Responsibility. But I'm living out here in the world, I've seen the elephant, and you can't unsee that. It's like, I want to find an exploit in Ayiti: The Cost Of Life and buy the family everything from the store. I want a fantasy where I have Great Power, and something meaningful to *do* with it. Or something sick and prurient, but that deals seriously with the consequences of my actions. I'm one of those people that, when I play Grand Theft Auto, I tend to obey traffic laws, and try hard never to involve bystanders in the violence, but love the freedom to just ignore the missions and wander aimlessly in stolen cars across the countryside. The only name I have for this is an "Adult Power Fantasy", but the connotation of that leans too heavily towards the sexual.

  2. I don't think this is about wanting _no_ challenge. I think this is about desperately wanting to overcome challenge, but coming home at the end of a day where you've been defeated too many times and you just want to get to the light at the end of the tunnel you've been lying to yourself about seeing all day. But when you try and write a game for a mindset like that it starts to look like a menu at a restaurant that just lets the player select which positive experience they'd like to have. Which, funnily enough, works great for food but leaves something to be desired when dealing with achievement.

    There are a number of games I can think of that manage to occupy this space without stopping being games, and I think the key thing about them is that they either allow the player to select their difficulty naturalistically during the process of play, or they preserve the reward in the event of failure. Any number of good RPGs allow players to grind their characters up by replaying older areas in order to reduce difficulty in the new ones; it's only the bad ones that actually force the player to do this for manageable difficulty in order to pad out content. And then there's flOw, for example, which is entirely about this concept. Hydorah, on the other hand, is an incredibly difficulty shmup, but no matter how many times it beats you the story of survival against all odds remains there to be played through, and when the player does beat it, it will still be a triumph, because they did it by improving their skills, not lowering statistical difficulty or save scumming. It's the only game I've ever played that gives you encouragement after a death.

  3. Hi Strain, thanks for your comments! I decided to make a post of my reply to you, over here