Sorry, that game’s too hard…
I was browsing through the arcade forums the other day, and came across a thread with some interesting stuff on it. It was just a general discussion about a game, whose name I don’t recall (I forgot to bookmark the link). It ended up going into how quite a few of these guys have kids, and their kids won’t play arcade games. They play bullshit smartphone games, and console/PC games, but not arcade. Now I’m definitely a more “to each their own” kinda guy, but the reasoning irked me. They said it’s because the games are too hard.
Now I’ve spoken about my reasoning for preferring arcade titles before, and I mentioned the difficulty aspect. Newer games are more about instant gratification than real challenge. I seldom need to replay a level in a new game more than a dozen times, max, before getting past it. Before you get all uppity about that, keep in mind that I’m pretty shitty at video games, despite how much I’ve played them. Anyways, older games are where the real skill comes in. Any gamer who’s played an FPS or ten can blow through the newest Call of Doody without much of a problem. Ask any of them to get over 50,000 points in Missile Command or beat level 30 in Donkey Kong, however, and they’ll wind up in anger management classes. Why? Because it’s fucking hard as hell.
Like I said, normally this wouldn’t have set me off. I recently read an article and lengthy cartoon about “millennials”. For those who don’t know, that’s the name of this generation of teens, typically born between the mid-late 80s through to 2000. It was all about them not really having any sense of entitlement issues, or instant gratification problems, or poor work ethics, etc.. I’ve known and worked with plenty of the people this guy was talking about, and they all fit the stereotypes. They thought they’d get out of school and right into a high paying job without paying their dues first, thought they could fuck around at work and keep their jobs, etc. Why am I saying all this? The instant gratification part.
Keep in mind, I’m not only targeting millennials here, the article just set me off. The thing that irks me is that so many people, kids and adults alike, don’t find any enjoyment in doing something difficult. If it isn’t something that can be either instantly mastered, or mastered with relatively minimal effort, then it’s not worth it. I’d wager that this is due to the sense of accomplishment high you get when completing something or excelling at something. I believe people need and love that feeling, and would rather have it more often and with less effort. Most people wouldn’t equate the difference between someone saying “I beat God of War” and “I reached the kill screen in Donkey Kong”, but the difference is staggering. I personally get it, and I find it much more gratifying when I’m able to do something difficult successfully. Hell, some things sound difficult until you learn about them, and then you realize it’s relatively simple. A good example I can give is my current arcade addiction. If someone told me, before I got into the hobby, that they took an old machine, rewired it, rebuilt the monitor, updated the controls, etc., I’d have been like “holy crap dude, you’re like some electronics jedi! Let me be your student, and teach me the ways of the force feedback!”. Now that I know, it’s more like “Dude, anyone can do this, it’s not rocket science. You just gotta get over the intimidation.”. Honestly, I feel the same way about knitting. I see people make crazy sick shit, and I’m like “holy crap dude, you’re like some knitting jedi! Let me be your student, and teach me the ways of the fleece!”, but I’m sure if I took the time to learn about it, it’d be much less intimidating.
The real irony here, is that there are plenty of arcade titles that can be instantly gratifying. Sure, there are the punishing games, but there are also a shitload of others that are great to just play and enjoy. Beat-em-up games like Double Dragon, Golden Axe, Dungeons and Dragons (both of them), TMNT, Simpsons, X-men, and Metamorphic Force are all fun titles that can be beaten with enough quarters. I actually play them with my 5 year old every so often, and he enjoys them. Now, games like Donkey Kong, Pacman, Missile Command, Robotron, Gravitar, and R-Type are the games that require real skill to get through. You can’t just coin up your way through, you really have to develop skills and learn patterns. There are also intermediary difficulty titles like Black Tiger and Rolling Thunder.
What I’m really getting at
and taking FOREVER to explain is that A) doing something difficult is much more rewarding, in my opinion, than something easy, and 2) just because something looks intimidating, doesn’t mean it’s actually difficult or impossible. Basically, don’t get into that mindset of dumbing yourself down and taking the easy road every time. If you do, you’ll end up blindsided when something truly difficult is thrown your way.