I’ve been ruined by instant gratification! (In games)

How I’ve gone from hardcore gamer to pretty casual

A few years ago I wrote a piece on how video games have started to hold players hands. There was a comment on this piece stating that people were wanting instant gratification from their games.

Super Mario Brothers 3 (c) Nintendo
My kids struggled with the first level of SMB3 and gave up pretty quickly.

Recently I’ve discovered I’ve gotten so used to this that I no longer have the patience for gaming that I once had. This became apparent once I came into possession of a NES. I’ve greatly enjoyed this trip back to my gaming past, playing on my uncle’s NES. However I always seem to get bored or lose interest as soon as I start to struggle or don’t seem to be progressing fast enough.

Back when I was younger (I’m 30 now) I could spend hours playing these kind of games. The hours would just fly by, yes I’d get frustrated at times but I’d persevere.

Is instant gratification a bad thing?

Honestly thinking about it…. No in my case I guess that this is not such a bad thing. Now I’m older and have a family I don’t really have the time to sit and grind a game out for hours and hours. When I do get time to play I want to have a sense of some progression that my time hasn’t been wasted. This being said I still feel that what made gaming great when I was younger was the challenge.

My kids wanted to play on my NES, I obliged and to my amazement and humour, neither of them could finish a level on Super Mario Brothers 3. While I can understand this if you’ve never played this style of game before. What did bother me was how quickly they gave up, despite my encouragement and demonstrations.

It’s not all doom and gloom.

Dark Souls by FromSoft
The Dark Souls games are renowned for their difficulty

Not all games suffer from hand holding, or being too easy, just look at what FromSoftware did with it’s Dark Souls series. Those games are really challenging without being massively frustrating and leaving you with a sense of accomplishment and progression.

I know a lot of you are reading this and thinking ‘Why not just play on a higher difficulty’? I still feel that the presence of checkpoints and being able to just keep restarting the same bit over and over again hampers the challenge slightly. This is just my opinion of course and you can feel free to vent your rage in the comments.

Thanks to the rising popularity of video games I really can’t see this trend of dumbing down games going away. Like I said earlier, people don’t have hours and hours to play. This means that when they play they want to get the most out of them. They always have the option to turn up the difficulty should they so wish. There’s also the oppourtunity to play more challenging games and the indie community is more than happy to oblige. Instant gratification allows players to experience the bulk of the game.

I hope this hasn’t seemed too much like I’m rambling on. You can let me know in the comments if you agree with me or you think that I should just ‘Git gud’.



One thought on “I’ve been ruined by instant gratification! (In games)

  1. In some ways, the change in
    technology has changed how games
    reward the player. For a lot of early
    game designers the high difficulty
    without repeatedly playing a level
    and learning how the game worked
    was what kept players pumping in
    pennies. These days games tend to
    have more sophistication and some
    are very story driven, almost making
    it an interactive film. If you make the
    levels difficult and unrewarding then
    the story can suffer, and the player
    won’t experience the tale you wish
    to tell. Then you have the mobile
    gaming genre, born from addictive
    quickly rewarding short play. It’s
    often designed to reward until it
    wants you to start paying to play.
    Also the sub £1 games that work on
    scale of sales by making something
    flashy and addictive that millions
    buy and only play once, “but it’s the
    next big thing!”
    Users and platforms have changed,
    and so have the games.

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