Let me start with a confession, and head off comment-based accusations at the pass: I have never completed a videogame on a difficulty setting higher than ‘Normal’, and even then the number that I have completed on higher than ‘Easy’ doesn’t exceed single digits. So, yes, I’m not that kind of player. I will, in all honesty, never be that kind of player. But let’s come back to that later.
First, as with my earlier article, I’d like to look at videogame history (from my point of view) and the evolution of hardness. I am, in gaming terms, a fairly old hand. The first electronic entertainment gadgeridoo in our house was a Pong ripoff by Grandstand, the Game 2000, back in the dawn of the 80s. It was pretty much the worst thing ever in terms of gameplay – one player hit the square ball, the other player hit the square ball, and so on until one player failed to hit the square ball, at which point the score increased. Imagine air hockey, but without the risk of a broken finger* adding that frisson of danger. But this was the Dark Ages, before the advent of real home gaming, and it seemed like some crazy electric dream. Was it difficult? Impossible to say. Is tennis difficult?