Drawing the Line: When Skill-Shaming Goes Too Far

Published February 16, 2018 Leave a Comment

It’s not uncommon to see a gaggle of teens gathered around popular arcade machines, each one of them vying for the highest score and the dominion of the whole arcade floor with nothing but sheer skill and persistence. Retro games were, arguably some of the most simple titles gameplay-wise; they offered simple-to-understand mechanics, but a significant skill ceiling, which the players had to practice and study a lot to reach. In this sense, old games idolized difficulty and skill and gave power to the players when they were good at certain games, while players that didn’t have the same amount of skill were relegated to the sidelines.

While I was never a “good” gamer; I have tons of experience with the craft. I was practically born with a controller in hand and was gaming since the early stages of my childhood. I’ve played tons of titles; and the ones I haven’t played, I’ve most likely read about and are familiar with, at the very least, their concepts. Regardless, I’ve never been one to boast high scores, excelling at the local arcade, or being the best at one of the more recent online multiplayer games. I’d much rather be along for the ride than actually being the best any given video game. Regardless, I enjoy challenging myself to the point of competing in some games, like CS:GO, Super Smash Bros or, more recently, the critically-acclaimed PUBG. In these titles, I strive to do my best and, about 50% of the times, manage to end up on top, at least in the latter game.

The thing about difficulty in video games is that, in the past, said medium was much more niche. Today, everyone can be a gamer, and that’s a good thing. However, as the crowd of gamers expands each day, so too must the mechanics of said games in order appeal to the widest possible demographic, should they desire to win over the most amount of people. No one likes to be alienated from a good game just because it is too difficult to complete; this is not a sign of good quality, it’s a sign of bad game design. If your game cannot be completed by everyone who bought it, then perhaps its design must be reformulated; unless, of course, that’s the whole point of the game. The video below is of I Wanna Be The Guy, a game that’s supposed to be unfair, hard, and inaccessible by all but the most avid and patient gamers

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