Why We're All Idiots For Thinking Video Game Difficulty Matters

It was designed to take advantage of you. No more, no less.


Video game difficulty is a fascinating topic to pick apart.

On the one hand, there's definitely psychological and philosophical value to "overcoming" an obstacle or purpose-built challenge, emerging on the other side having accomplished something; having conquered a feat you know huge swathes of the population might have given up on.

On the other... is the reality that video game difficulty was invented to rob you. Literally born in the arcades as a way to MAKE you cough up more coins for another chance to beat a boss or level, this mentality resulted in primarily children and teenagers priding themselves on getting as far as possible on each subsequent run.

Come the time technology had advanced far enough to allow for the likes of the home console, video game devs were hit with a problem: The complete lack of a recurrent spending method after that initial price point. They weren't NOT going to charge a premium amount for the game, and thus we saw a mutation of the purpose behind difficulty itself:

No longer would games kill you unfairly or throw up obstacles that required trial and error because of the need to pay again - they would be hard, to elongate the overall amount of time spent playing, thus giving any gamer "their money's worth", justifying that high unit cost.



Gaming Editor
Gaming Editor

Gaming Editor at WhatCulture. Wields shovels, rests at bonfires, fights evil clones, brews decoctions. Will have your lunch on Rocket League.