This is a guest post by Megan E. Pearson who you can find at twitch.tv/lolizombie
Lately I have been seeing more and more people that like to get on others for being “casual” gamers. One such instance was someone I follow on YouTube wishing that a recent game release had different difficulty settings so that they could experience the story with slightly less challenge. This was of course received with a lot of hate and criticism. it’s hardly an isolated experience however. From reviewers pointing out a game being challenging, to streamers choosing to play a game on an easier difficulty, to someone simply pointing out that they prefer to play on easy. All of these things are received with harsh criticism from outside sources, even complete strangers.
The reality is I am what these random people would call a “casual” gamer, and I simply feel no shame in it. Nor do I believe I should feel it. There are a lot of reasons for us to decide to go with easier difficulties or shy away from more challenging games.
One such reason for me is, admittedly a lack of talent. I won’t say I am the worst gamer in the world, but I am far from a pro. My response time can occasionally be slow, I don’t have the greatest time with memorization, and if I get frustrated my skill level only gets worse. These problems, among other things, have a tendency to work against me when I am gaming. What comes naturally to some takes more effort for me. I sometimes appreciate the challenge. I’ve been known to go after achievements that require you to beat a game on a certain difficulty. When I am in that mind frame I love a good challenge and embrace the chance to go for it. I am not always in that mind frame though. Gaming to me is truly an escape. There are times I simply want to shut down and enjoy something. I don’t want frustration and challenge, I want entertainment and fun. I want to relax and enjoy something. If you are more skilled this comes more easily for you, my lack of skill means sometimes I need those easier modes.
Another such reason for my embracing being “casual” is time. I would love to game like I did back in high school. I would get home from school and game. I would spend entire weekends locked in my room doing nothing but gaming (and taking care of basic needs). I would spend vacations in front of my TV or at a friend’s house in front of theirs. I do still have gaming marathons like this, but they are no longer the norm. I will occasionally say, “You know what, this weekend we are going to do nothing but play games”, but it’s the exception, no longer the rule. I simply don’t have the time anymore. I have a job, a home to take care of, and a laundry list of responsibilities and things to do. I still make time for personal gaming, and would largely call it my biggest hobby. That being said I still don’t have the time.
If I want to play Fallout, Mass Effect, and Dragon Age multiple times in multiple different ways some of those playthroughs have to be on easy. If I want to devote time to epics like The Witcher or Horizon: Zero Dawn I might need to tone it down. If I want to go back through games to find all the collectibles it might require easy mode. I want to game, and I want to play a large variety of games. This means sometimes making the choice to play it on easy to get through the experience. Or if a game doesn’t have difficulties, using certain upgrades that make the experience easier. It’s not that I don’t want to spend more time on every game, it’s that my “to play” list is constantly growing, and I have yet to discover a way to fit 50 hours of activities into a 24 hour day.
It comes down to my having to make a choice. Can I beat this game a lot faster if I tone down the difficulty? Does it make it slightly boring to do so? If I tone down this game does it open up more play time for other games? Or would it be better for me to tone down a different game? These are all things that I take into account, and then I decide how to move forward. It also matters for games that I know I will be playing more than once. Even more than twice.
Mostly however, I find that I simply don’t think it’s anybody else’s business. I might have these reasons for choosing to play a game on a different difficulty, but the reason “because I want to” seems like it should be enough. Why does it matter to other people how I play a game and why? Does my playing on easy really change things for you as a gamer? Does my desire to see an easier difficulty in some games negatively impact your experience? No one is saying that you have to play on easy, we are simply adding to what you already have for yourself.
Of course there are games where this wouldn’t work. Where difficulty is part of the core element of the game. However, for the rest of them if you have the choice for a challenging experience the people that want it should have a choice for an easy one.
I feel there is just not justifiable reason to hold this judgment over other people. No reason to want to shame me for my choice to play on casual, normal, or whatever difficulty I choose. Why should I feel the need to justify how I experience my hobby to other people?
At then end of the day I say if how you game is not impacting other people in a negative way then it shouldn’t matter to anybody else. This can range from choosing to get into the RP aspects or not. Using cheat codes for single player games. Deciding to play on easy or insanity. If you are enjoying your game then that’s all that matters. We all need to live and let game.