Discussion 9/28

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September 27, 2012 by ald7th

Hey everybody! This is Anna Dobben and Stephen Czaja’s discussion section post.

For class tomorrow we are going to discuss the difficulty of video games, and how it affects narrative and gameplay. The following article will serve as an effective introduction to the topic:

http://kotaku.com/5940154/easy-modes-ruin-games-like-hell-they-do

Here are some questions to fuel discussion:

1.  In regard to the dualistic perspectives presented in the article, which side do you represent?  Do you enjoy games because they provide a challenge and a feeling of accomplishment upon conquering this challenge, or do you prefer it when gameplay does not inhibit you from experiencing the story?  From the games we have played: which are fun merely because of gameplay, and which are enjoyable because of the story?  Could we say that Bioshock successfully accomplished both?

2.  Could Super Mario Bros. benefit from an easy mode?  Is it even possible for Super Mario Bros. to have an easy mode?

3.  There are a few major systems on the market and thousands of games.  If narrative really matters to the designer, is there a way to find a middle ground of difficulty?  With multiple systems and other underlying programming difficulties, can designers create equal experiences (both of narrative and gameplay) for all players?

4.  The author suggests that he plays games on easy to enjoy the narrative. But without the gameplay, what really makes this different than watching a movie, a television series, or even a mere play through of the game?  Games are created to be played on whatever level the designer intends.  By only caring about the narrative, doesn’t that take away a fundamental aspect of the experience?

5.  Assassin’s Creed 3 is part of a series, and some who have played the game for hours in the past want to continue to follow the narrative the new game presents.  But the concerns of some of the gamers probably don’t equal the concerns of the designers; i.e. immersion in the world versus new and more difficult aspects of gameplay.  Should game mechanics more fully take into account narrative concerns? If so, how might they accomplish this feat?
6.  As the only creative industry that needs to insert difficulty levels, it has not yet become a part of the traditional definition for being such a large part of the industry.  How does difficulty change the definition of a video game?  In the Wolf-Perron definition, they cite Graphics, Interface, Player Activity, and Algorithm.  However, we’ve discussed how all of these fit into other media as well (be it blogging, tweeting, or even reading a book).  If we were to incorporate the aspect of difficulty, how would that challenge the current definition that our class uses?  Does it all come down to the difference between gameplay and fun?

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