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How modern gaming has made us into wimpy gamers

Bosses who don't reset their health when you die

Bosses used to be something to be feared. Towering, all-conquering bastards of untold destruction who we had to earn bitter victory over every single time. Defeating one of those behemoths not only improved our gaming skills ready for the onslaught of the next, more difficult level, but also served as great character-building, both in-game and in the real world. Beating a boss made us feel like we and our on-screen hero had gone through a rite of passage together, and it was also an important tool in pacing the increasing difficulty of a game.

But to modern bosses, we pose only one simple question: What are you the boss of, exactly? Because it must be a pretty piss-weak organisation if a being of ever-degrading health and non-existing sense of self-preservation has limp-wristedly wrestled control of it. Far from giving us reason to man up and hone our fighting abilities, bosses are often now impossible not to beat on the first go. We don't need skills any more, we just need to have a spare ten minutes and no problem with back-tracking a few feet. We die, we restart, get back to the boss, and we find that although we now have full energy, he's spent the intervening time absent-mindedly perusing the texture quality of the surrounding architecture and is in exactly the same beaten-down state we left him in. It's about attrition, not ability. It says a lot when the button you'll use most frequently in a boss fight is Start.


Cut-scenes that do the fighting for us



And half the time we spend battling the malnourished-kitten styles of these bosses of not-much-in-particular, we're not actually fighting them at all! We're just watching them die while pressing the occasional button. It's about as challenging as switching a life-support system off.

It used to be that the introduction of a boss was a terrifying and awe-inspiring affair. "Holy shit!", we used to exclaim, "You expect me to fight that!?" Well not any more they don't. The scarier the boss, the more likely it is that its introductory cut-scene will involve it falling down a hole, getting auto-killed by your character, or just becoming bored and buggering off somewhere else with only a vague notion of returning at some later point in the game. And even if we do have to do the fighting ourselves, all too often the fight will boil down to landing a few easy hits, moving in close as said boss reels and cries like a chronically depressed dandelion in a gale, and then hammering two or three inputs as instructed on-screen to trigger an effortless kill.


Check-points and quick-saves

Has a marathon runner really run a marathon if he completes the course over fifty-two days, doing half a mile every day? No. No he has not. If that were the case, then the Radar staff could count ourselves as endurance athletes just for doing the walk to work every day. And endurance athletes we certainly are not.

Anyone can be good in short bursts. It's consistency that really counts. Anyone who started gaming back in the early days of cassette tapes and 8-bit cartridges knows what commitment really means. Hard-drives and memory cards have killed our dedication.


Scalable AI



If a batter isn't doing too well in a game of baseball, does the bat quadruple in size and the ball fill up with helium to allow for bigger hits? Does the adjudicators of school tests lower the pass mark for stupid kids so that everyone can get an A? And does, in fact, the rain stop falling if you find yourself outside without an umbrella? The answer to all of these questions is of course a resounding "No". The reason? Because if any of those things happened, it would be bloody ridiculous, it would remove all elements of achievement and self-improvement from life, and no-one would ever learn anything from anything. Much like what scalable AI does, then.

And to add insult to even bigger, more annoying insult, this insidious process of adapting game difficulty according to the player's skill actually provides an incentive for being shit. Finding things difficult? Just stand still, take a beating, and the world will go easy on you. What kind of a life lesson is that?



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59 comments

  • sporeboy100 - August 1, 2013 2:17 p.m.

    bullshit, bullshit everywhere, gaming isnt getting easier, its getting harder, there are still games being made by devs that are stuck in the 80/90's of gaming, that being most indie dev teams, Nintendo when they make a 2D mario game and the asshole teams that made Demon/Dark souls and (Super) Meat Boy, those who are saying games are too easy must be stuck in the 80/90's oh and for the save thing, the original LoZ had saves but no one moaned, maybe because the game WITHOUT saves would be like playing super meat boy, so hard you would NEED to break out the game genie and the forced tutorials because companies are being hippies and leaving out the instruction booklets that i doubt anyone ever reads anymore seriously, if you want to develop a game that is CRUEL, UNFAIR and PUNISHING to the player, make it exclusive for the OUYA or make it for the older consoles, i think some people are still doing that (hold that thought, gotta google that) *1 search on google later* (oh, nightmare busters for the SNES, came out earlier this year) just let us enjoy the handholding, and get your impossible mode loving heads out of the 80/90's, this isnt the 80/90's anymore, so get used to the handholding
  • Jason.Darksavior - October 11, 2008 8:40 a.m.

    haha. I agree espicially with 'auto-aim'.
  • ShadowGryphon - September 24, 2008 3:08 a.m.

    Two things I'd like to take to task. 1: "Anyone can be good in short bursts. It's consistency that really counts. Anyone who started gaming back in the early days of cassette tapes and 8-bit cartridges knows what commitment really means. Hard-drives and memory cards have killed our dedication." Sorry, but you're wrong here. There is commitment, then there is pure stupidity and playing a game from beginning to end in one sitting comes under the heading of stupid. Besides, some of us simply don't have that kind of time, what with work and wives(husbands) and actually living our lives. 2:"Does the adjudicators of school tests lower the pass mark for stupid kids so that everyone can get an A?" In the US........ HELL YES they do. damned liberals have to make sure -everyone- is on the same footing. Screw that, sink or swim damnit!
  • TheKickAssSpartan - September 23, 2008 3:14 a.m.

    i'd agree fully, the first halo you couldn't through the first lvl on legendary for hours, on halo 2 and 3 it takes a couple seconds, and no, it is hot that girls like games but I don't think that way about ppl like you that can pwn, and don't say we haven't been laid...! well, not all of us anyway...
  • genequagmire - September 22, 2008 4:23 a.m.

    I'm tired of this pseudo-wistful past bothering. Games are different now. Stop the presses! Also, girltroll is troll.
  • Jerm007 - September 21, 2008 4:02 p.m.

    registered just to say how much i loved this. David Houghton?...is now one of my gaming hero's.i'll link this everywhere i can think of(that it hasnt been already).
  • familyguy829 - September 20, 2008 10:34 p.m.

    i've got to say that i disagree with the article..
  • JumppyMcFarfingham - September 20, 2008 1:46 a.m.

    @GamerGeekThatGetsLaid: Yes, I've played both of them. Not as challenging they could be. Devil May Cry's AI is very simple to predict and basically Hell and Hell mode is simple memorization. Ninja Gaiden, eh, a decent challenge, but not as hard as it could be. Anyone who can't get through it is a weakling in terms of raw skill.
  • Spybreak8 - September 19, 2008 6:39 a.m.

    hahahaha
  • Thequestion 121 - September 17, 2008 8:21 p.m.

    I wholeheartedly agree with this article.
  • bron1417 - September 17, 2008 7:32 p.m.

    i lol'd hard at the whole article nicely done.
  • quicksilver_503 - September 17, 2008 5:58 p.m.

    i don't really agree with all that was said but still, a good article.
  • Vita Spero - September 17, 2008 3:02 p.m.

    http://www.videogamer.com/news/17-09-2008-9366.html
  • dustLOOP - September 17, 2008 9:21 a.m.

    Like cart00n said, take it with a pinch of salt. I admit games are a hell of a lot easier today. Loads of people are saying 'LUL, PLAY IT ON HARD/VERTAN/HEAVEN OR HELL' whatever you wanna' call hard mode. Well the truth is, NO ONE what-so-ever wants to play a game on the hardest difficulty. There are a few that will willingly play it on the hardest difficulty, I am one of those people. To all people piss-moaning about this article, its true. You had to pickup health packs, save at the END OF THE LEVEL or not even save at all. I've said it since day one, have levels fair enough, but take away the regen health and checkpoints and see how much people enjoy games then. They wont because they will have to THINK about what they have to do. I am still playing Ridge Racer 6 because that game has stuck to its roots in terms of difficulty. You can say lol n00b and all that, but if you have finished the game, link your gamertag here to prove it. Also with the ninja gaiden thing, that again is a game that stuck to its roots. If you take out the games that are difficult like Ninja Gaiden, Ridge Racer and Devil May Cry for example all games are easy. Call of Duty on vertran isn't. It just isn't just because I have seen it that if you die repeatedly, the game gives you a checkpoint like its feeling sorry for you! Anyway, I found the funny side in the article. Keep it up GR!
  • Juriasu - September 17, 2008 7:48 a.m.

    What about COD4 on veteran!! That is some difficult shit.
  • cart00n - September 17, 2008 1:30 a.m.

    You are pretty dense if you don't understand that this ENTIRE article is facetious i.e. the whole damned thing is a joke! Of COURSE D.H. isn't being (entirely) serious here. Do you REALLY think that any person a part of this magazine, all gamers to the core, would be able to SERIOUSLY compare today's apples to yesterday's oranges and say "they had it harder" without throwing in a sizable amount of salt? Even so, you have to admit, he's right. Yes, today's games are far more complex than the days of yore, meaning the gamer has to keep track of a LOT more things at a time at once. But games are, in many ways, a LOT more accessible as well. While Pac-Man's controls are certainly simple to grasp, that constant siren whining and ghosties coming at you from all directions certainly ramped up the pressure! I know many a non-gamer who blames Pac-Man's intensity on never picking up on the hobby...
  • JakeBob - September 17, 2008 12:59 a.m.

    you say these games are easy, but only because you've been playing since the pre-NES days at the earliest. they're only easy cause you know the controls and your reflexes are quite high. you'll probably be able to call yourself a moderately good player of the video games if you can get 45 points on 150cc Special cup on Super Mario Kart.
  • JoeMasturbaby - September 17, 2008 12:48 a.m.

    EdelweissPirate: im a gamer geek, i get laid. swallow your pride. you are no better than the "geeks" you insult.
  • GamerGeekThatGetsLaid - September 17, 2008 12:48 a.m.

    Bulllll...shiiiit. I take it that you've never played Ninja Gaiden, Ninja Gaiden 2, or pretty much any top-quality video game on the most difficult setting. Devil May Cry 4, Hell or Hell mode, anyone?
  • JumppyMcFarfingham - September 17, 2008 12:10 a.m.

    Ah, this is very true. We need more games like I Wanna be the Guy. Yes, I beat it. Yes, on hard mode. Every time a game comes out that presents the slightest bit of challenge, people wine about it. guess what? Halo on legendary mode is EASY! Anybody can beat that game. Devil May Cry, not that hard. Shinobi, decent challenge. Gamers ARE soft nowadays.

Showing 1-20 of 59 comments

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