There's no "right" way to play a game, and Twitch streamers are sick of being shamed for playing on easy
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- Patricia Hernandez
- Apr 1 2021
- Word count
- 712 words
I don't read Polygon, so maybe this kind of content is common on that site, but I found this to be a really awful article that would only real serve to fuel an argument with Internet trolls. Is Polygon just Buzzfeed with video games at this point?
I thought the article was fine. I haven't bothered with higher difficulties in most video games in years, so I sympathize with her position. Hard mode usually just makes the player take more damage and deal less (proportionally to enemy health), which makes the experience grindy and deeply uninteresting. Unless a streamer is playing a game specifically because they can do it at a high skill level, I see no value in bashing them for actually trying to enjoy themselves.
Absolutely -- you should never bash a streamer, or anyone for simply wanting to enjoy the video game (or board game, movie, ham sandwich, etc.) they bought. I disagree with your opinion on "hard mode" in games, but I guess that really depends on the game & the person playing it.
I suppose it's pretty subjective, yeah. I don't play too many games, so take my experience with a grain of salt, but most AAA RPGs and shooters I'm familiar with have had fairly unremarkable difficulty systems. The worst offender in my mind is Skyrim (2011), a game which I very much enjoy, but for which I have little patience. Outside of genres like isometric strategy (Civilization, etc.), I've always felt it was uncommon to see a game whose gameplay seriously changes across difficulty levels. Recent titles have been marginally better about improving enemy AI, like DOOM (2016), but I have yet to be knocked off my feet.
More broadly (perhaps this is a little off-topic), even a fairly robust difficulty system can be unpredictable, artificially segmenting certain gameplay elements in ways that are ultimately confusing to the player: "why can the AI do X, but not Y?" I'm of the belief that games should be relatively easy, and if people want to up the difficulty, they can be given pathways in gameplay to discover difficulty themselves. I always appreciate a challenge, but mostly in the form of restrictions to my playstyle. Metal Gear Solid V (2015) was enjoyable for me because its level ratings acted as an implicitly enforced difficulty system; to "make it harder," I could go for full stealth, pacifist, etc. But I didn't have to. If I just wasn't feeling that intense, I could play a little sloppily. i.e. I am not changing the game's difficulty (which I feel is closer in practice to the game controlling me), I am simply having a personalized experience. Of course, this only works in games that are well-balanced overall.
I'm not just in it for the narrative—I like good gameplay for its own sake—though what motivates me to play a game is usually more than technical perfection alone. I'm there to experience the work in all its artistic glory, but I also have a lot of other things to do, and several other media I could be getting entertainment from instead. Dark Souls is a series I might grind out someday for the sake of the difficulty; "random moderately acclaimed video game #457" honestly just doesn't deserve that much from me. Unless it's specifically built around customizable or at least nuanced difficulty levels, the entire system looks like window dressing in my eyes.
One game I'd like to give a shout-out to is the Witcher 3 for really making Hard and up worth playing on.
The game has a lot of depth in the combat and in potions and in monster weaknesses and strengths. On the easier difficulties you can basically just rush head first into any encounter and whack them with your metal sticks until they die, ignoring all the lore and the bestiary and all the prep that witchers canonically have to do to fight.
When I started playing on Death March I really had to change the way I played to survive. Suddenly I had to search for the crafting recipes for the potions I needed to help me fight specific monsters, I had to read the bestiary entries in order to understand how to better fight them, I had to spend time upgrading my armor and equipment. It felt many times more immersive than it felt on lower difficulties. (Although, I also remember dying to the first pack of wolves you come across when you're going to talk to the first Nilfgaardian in the game like fifty times as well)
I found myself in the comments on her tweet earlier today because folks I follow (like disabled gamers) were retweeting stuff. Bad idea on my part. I ended up yelling at people who were telling disabled people that easy/story/assist modes doesn't count as accessibility. Which is infuriating — if we say it's an accessibility feature for us, it is. Random abled gamers don't get a say over what counts.
Also, "disabled people are lazy and just want a fast way to win; they could play these games on hard mode if they just tried enough" is really insulting... And a thing multiple people believe, apparently!
This is things like that which really strengthen my belief that articles like this one serve no practical purpose other than amplifying a niche message.
Fact #1: You will never get 100% of people to agree on anything, there is always a niche opinion.
Fact #2: Niche opinions are popularized by having their message spread.
This article probably has its heart in the right place, but as @keb points out it ends up being nothing but toxic IMO. And people retweeting stuff they don't agree with so they can point and yell, or in turn get their followers to point and yell? Toxic AF. The only one who isn't toxic in all this is the person who originally tweeted that video. She was communicating with her community. Polygon picked it up because polygon craves drama.
Of course difficulty levels are a form of accessibility. The people you were getting in a row with? Who knows how old they were. Who knows how much experience they had. They were very unlikely to be game designers, because most designers today consider and treat difficulty levels as an accessibility feature. What did it achieve? Maybe you changed a mind here or there, but probably as many saw the arguments and decided to just pick the other side because that's where they defaulted to. None of it matters because all those people are followers, not leaders; they don't call the shots. They're not the ones who decide what accessibility means in that scenario.
More generally: most people don't know what the fuck they're talking about, but several social media make it easy and accessible to participate in debates regardless of that. And when that happens, people just pick a side. They're rarely interested in something constructive; they wouldn't be there if they were.
(This isn't to berate you specifically by the way; I'm only annoyed by people using their reach and influence to direct swathes of people to behave shittily)
I had a (minor) stroke almost a decade ago. Full feeling in my left hand is never coming back. I'm thankful for gaming in that it's a great physical therapy tool for the hands. I streamed for three years (RIP), and in all that time, I felt this kind of pressure. I usually played games that didn't have a difficulty per se: Marvel Heroes (RIP) and GTA Online (friend sessions only.) The idea that I should have to do something less fun for me because it's more fun for you (general you, not you personally)? Yeah, no. I'm here to have fun, and when I streamed, I figured I'd cultivate the audience I wanted instead of the people who wanted to see me fail.
Never actually materialized, but that's why I'm a former streamer.
I had this realization a few years ago for myself. There are just some games where I know I'm playing a movie wrapped up as a video game (Naughty Dog games come to mind) and I'm definitely in it for the story, not the challenging game play. So I usually play their games on lower difficulties. Get to feel OP and experience a story without the disruption of death.
And then there are games where I set out to get good at the game. Usually simulation, strategy, resource management, etc. games. I'll start on normal and ramp up the difficulty until I feel like I've mastered the game. And the best part is that it can take years. I'm still not playing Civ V on its highest difficulty after all these years. I've been slowly making my way through FrostPunk's scenarios on medium for weeks now...I'm terrified of the higher difficulties. But It's fun.
And ultimately if you make a big stink about someone else's decisions that don't impact you, you're being a dick.
The only metric important for streamers is if they are entertaining. I don't see any reason for the game difficulty being relevant to entertainment, unless the streamer is claiming to be playing on a harder difficulty than they actually are in a misleading way to gain credit.
Unfortunately people will always choose to be elitist when it comes to things like that. PC vs console, playstation vs xbox, online vs offline, call of duty vs battlefield, red vs. blue etc. people love choosing sides and belonging to groups, and if someone does not fulfill their arbitrary standards, it's supposedly okay to shame them, because they don't belong in your group. It feeds some very primal windings of our lizard brain probably and the world would be a lot better if we didn't have those, but my best guess is that we have them because made us a successful species, and success as that is not connectec to ethics or morals.
The only people I expect to at least be proficient in whatever games they are playing is reviewers. I don't need them to be good, but if you are terrible at something, you can't properly review it. Anyone remember Polygon trying their best at playing Doom?
Don't help perpetuate the "if you do anything on the internet, you're signing up to deal with endless assholes and deserve everything that happens to you" attitude, please. Everyone acting like it's just natural and expected is exactly how the internet ended up getting so bad in the first place.
That kind of attitude is pretty much the opposite of why this site exists, and I don't want to let it get treated as normal here too.
How is pointing out how people who put themselves in the limelight get treated perpetuating something? You can go back to ancient Greece and find people criticizing public figures and their choices. It's no more perpetuating something than pointing out that the earth revolves around the sun.
Is it natural? I don't know. Is it human nature to be critical of others or find faults in those they envy for being more successful? I'm not sure. Is it expected? History shows us yes.
I agree to an extent, but it's an issue that goes beyond just 'internet culture' - there will always be assholes either offline or online and I don't think there's any real solution to it. In this day and age I would assume that someone trying to cultivate an online following without expecting some form of occasional toxic interaction is fairly naive, not as an excuse for internet trolls being the way they are but because some of them are just toxic by nature and no amount of arguing with them through a twitter chain would fix that. Just like there will probably always be bigots/racists/whatever other toxic mentalities out in the world, there's really only so much you can do for someone set in their ways like that. My best solution has always been to just ignore them since interacting with a troll tends to go nowhere and giving them too much thought will just drag you down.
I don't view passive statements of the current reality as normalizing nor encouraging of such behavior. Thievery exists, I don't like thievery and would appreciate all thieves being punished accordingly. But at some point "thieves exist, lock your doors" has to be the answer until (if ever) this utopia exists. I'd hope I wouldn't need to preface every statement on owner safety with "I do not condone thievery".
I can't see the removed comment, but from the conversation around it it sounds like they were saying something to that effect. "Trolls exist, learn to block/ban/moderate". If it happens even on this invintation-only environment with moderatione being needed, it will happen on the largest open game streaming platform. Again, not an excuse, but measure to protect the individual.
I view it as, if you're a standup comedian, you have to learn how to handle hecklers, because you'll definitely encounter them in your shows.
And at the same time, if I'm at a standup comedy show with some friends and one of them starts heckling the person on stage, I'm going to elbow them in the ribs and tell them to shut up.
Hecklers exist because assholes exist. Some assholes will see someone else in the limelight and feel the urge to steal a bit of that limelight for themselves. Yes, it's human nature, but that doesn't mean it's a good part of human nature.
I don't think even the removed commenters were suggesting as such. I imagine it as seeing the topic from the "standup comedian" angle and Deimos taking it from the "friend next to the heckler" angle.
In a meta sense, I don't see this as the heckler being kicked out by the club owner. I see this as the club owner pre-emptively banning some passerby outside when they say "yup, there's always assholes like that".
As the other user involved in this comment thread who had a comment removed, I think it's worth pointing out that (IMO) kilroy is not being entirely honest in characterizing their own statements as being entirely neutral and just "pointing out" the nature of things.
fair enough, I could only evaluate based on some of the other reponses made after the removal. Tone is definietely an important factor in a conversation like this.
It's not good to normalize it, but I feel it is also overly optimistic to ignore the reality of the situation. I don't feel discussing the concept of incivilities among an anonymous mass does anything to perpetuate the problem, and I want to hope that it doesn't need to be prefaced with every comment here.