During the heyday of arcade cabinets difficulty and monetization of video games were physically intertwined. You would put a quarter in the coin slot and… Boom! You can play the game until you run out of lives which was often pretty quick. For developers, the trick was to create a game that, when you watched it, you would go: “Oh, that’s so easy!” The original Pac-Man is literally just one repeating level. How hard could that possibly be? [Pac-Man Death Sound FX] Very hard, is the answer- This was truly the first survival horror game. The ghosts… are just total dickheads. Just when you think you know, that the ghost thinks that you’re going this way, turns out he knew you were thinking that and he went this way instead. If by some miracle you reached stage 19 you will discover that the power pellets no longer do anything. It’s like, at this point of the game, the ghosts should say to you: “Nope! You had your fun and now the game is over” “Goodbye!” Arcades were brimming with looping endless games that demanded one knee-jerk reaction after another.

I mean, look at this! Can you describe to me what’s happening here? How do you play that? These were games designed to kill you fast and suck down quarters and people loved them. Then, in the mid 80s, we see the focus shifting back towards consoles, with the NES. Games start to take on the structure of having a set amount of stages and with this change the role of difficulty is transformed. Now the challenge becomes: “How do we stretch out a 30-minute game into something that will take months to complete?” The solution… “Nah! Just put a bunch of stupid fucking bullshit everywhere.” (Laughs) Cheap-ass one-hit kills, oblique puzzles, broken enemy spawns, impossible jumps, enemies that constantly knock you off a ledge- Go dig up an NES and tell me how many of those games you can actually complete. None of them! Don’t lie! You probably can’t even complete Bubble Bobble. Look at you! Even the titles that were directed specifically at younger children make Dark Souls look like fucking DuckTales. Except that DuckTales is probably harder. Going forward, however games would continue to become more and more approachable as developers found out that people actually like to win. Red Dead 2 is a bright modern example of this.

The game aims your gun for you, it steers your horse for you. It practically plays itself and despite all of this it is the most critically acclaimed game this year. Is it so wrong that people want to play a game without getting their dick knocked off every two seconds? No! I don’t think so. Not every game needs to be some death march, but when you try to have it both ways you run into problems. Selectable difficulties are commonly achieved by simply giving enemies more health and damage, but, in the back of my mind, I’m always wondering: “How much should they have?” Halo 3 is the first game in the series that tells you “HEROIC” is how the game is meant to be experienced It just straight up says: “Hey! This is the real one. Those other ones are fake.” If only they told me this- Uh… back in Halo 2.