What does Goldilocks have to do with video games? Well, she knew things had to be “just right.” She could probably help us find the right video game difficulty.
Some games are too hard. You know the signs. You ripped out clumps of your golden locks and smashed your controller against a wall. I’m talking about unfair cheap shots, like a never-ending torrent of grenades in a shooter. The enemy pelts you with potato mashers before you can take two steps forward. That’s unfair because you can’t win at all.
Too hard is different from challenging: a challenging game tests your skills in a fair way. That means you die because you made a mistake, and to improve, you need a better strategy. So instead of walking into the wave of grenades, walk around them. There’s nothing wrong with a fair challenge that requires some skill to solve.
However, an unfair and difficult game is like a red hot bowl of porridge. It seems like fun at first, but it leaves you burning with anger as you consume more of it. There might also be some steam involved. Though, in the case of the game, it will probably come out of your ears.
So we don’t want to be angry. Let’s see what else is on the table.
Ah, yes, this game looks nice and easy. But your average seasoned gamer might fall asleep behind the controller when they play an easy game. They’re hard-boiled and have been around the block. They find themselves reaching level five hundred in the first hour only to snore as loud as a leaf blower. The same game might be so easy that it even offends newbies who want some challenge.
The easy game is like the frosty bowl of porridge: it’s dull and lacks any flavour. We need to look again.
Ah, we’ve found the right game. This game achieves the golden mean: it’s a balance between too hard and too easy. It’s just right. It teaches you how to play, without being too easy, and it’s challenging but fair.
I’m also happy when a game has several difficulty modes. An easy mode can help new gamers. Then more people discover the art and joy of video games for the first time. For example, adults who want to learn video games might want to jump into the shallow end with wings. In addition, hard modes allow everyone to boast about their impossible victory. And the “normal” setting strikes that just right balance.
Looks like the bears caught me playing their video games. Time to run!