The Philosophy, Art, and Social Influence of games
User avatar
marurun
Moderator
 
Posts: 9204
Joined: Sat May 06, 2006 8:51 am
Location: Cleveland, OH

Re: Are Cuphead and other difficult games ableist?

by marurun Fri Oct 20, 2017 4:20 pm

Yeah, phone replies either take forever or result in some unintended, and often hilarious, arguments.
B/S/T thread
My Classic Games Collection
My Steam Profile
The PC Engine Software Bible Forum, with Shoutbox chat - the new Internet home for PC Engine fandom.
User avatar
BogusMeatFactory
Next-Gen
 
Posts: 6770
Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2009 3:16 pm
Location: Farmington Hills, MI

Re: Are Cuphead and other difficult games ableist?

by BogusMeatFactory Fri Oct 20, 2017 6:56 pm

marurun wrote:Yeah, phone replies either take forever or result in some unintended, and often hilarious, arguments.


..... they do... they really do.... i know this because, as can be seen with my numerous nonsensical typos, I reply on my phone most days and have the WORST autocorrect.
Ack wrote:I don't know, chief, the haunting feeling of lust I feel whenever I look at your avatar makes me think it's real.

-I am the idiot that likes to have fun and be happy.
User avatar
MrPopo
Moderator
 
Posts: 22448
Joined: Tue Aug 26, 2008 1:01 pm
Location: Orange County, CA

Re: Are Cuphead and other difficult games ableist?

by MrPopo Fri Oct 20, 2017 9:48 pm

BogusMeatFactory wrote:
marurun wrote:Yeah, phone replies either take forever or result in some unintended, and often hilarious, arguments.


..... they do... they really do.... i know this because, as can be seen with my numerous nonsensical typos, I reply on my phone most days and have the WORST autocorrect.

Or the BEST autocorrect, depending on your point of view.
Image
Games Beaten: 2015 2016 2017 2018
Blizzard Entertainment Software Developer - All comments and views are my own and not representative of the company.
User avatar
Erik_Twice
Next-Gen
 
Posts: 6248
Joined: Fri Mar 27, 2009 10:22 am
Location: Madrid, Spain

Re: Are Cuphead and other difficult games ableist?

by Erik_Twice Sat Oct 21, 2017 9:54 am

marurun wrote:I don't understand the view that there SHOULDN'T be one, the idea that offering one somehow devalues the entire thing by its mere presence.

I simply think that the easy version of the game just wouldn't have the same value, just like the colorized version of Casablanca doesn't have the same value as the original.

An easy Ghosts'n Goblins, for example, just wouldn't work. The game needs to be very hard for thematic reasons. The way the enemy design punishes overconfident players and makes the player feel puny is in concordance with the setting: It's a comedy-horror game, with Satan as the antagonist. If running around in your briefs weren't dangerous, it wouldn't be as funn and if Red Arremer didn't bait the player, he wouldn't be so devious.

I just think offering people bad art is, well, kind of patronizing.

In fact, I realized one thing the other day: The people writing this kind of articles agree view games exactly the same way the elitists do. Both think that the normal gamer is not able to apprecite this kind of games, it's just that one thinks that's good and the other thinks that's bad and blames games. But they agree that Cuphead isn't for "normal" or "diverse" gamers, in a sense.

And I don't agree, I don't think anyone is incapable of playing Cuphead or Gradius or Contra III. They just need to put in time and effort, just like one needs time and effort to cook or play an instrument. The game is not hidden and there's no hidden test in order to access it, everyone who can play games and wants to play it, can.
Looking for a cool game? Find it in my blog!
Latest post: Often, games must be difficult
http://eriktwice.com/
User avatar
isiolia
Next-Gen
 
Posts: 5471
Joined: Mon May 16, 2011 1:52 pm
Location: Virginia

Re: Are Cuphead and other difficult games ableist?

by isiolia Sat Oct 21, 2017 11:26 am

Erik_Twice wrote:And I don't agree, I don't think anyone is incapable of playing Cuphead or Gradius or Contra III. They just need to put in time and effort, just like one needs time and effort to cook or play an instrument. The game is not hidden and there's no hidden test in order to access it, everyone who can play games and wants to play it, can.


A big caveat is that difficulty is subjective. So, if you're considering difficulty as an intended, inherent part of the game, then the question becomes just how much of a challenge it's meant to be. The same game may be a mildly invigorating romp for a seasoned gamer, while being a nigh-impossible task that takes months or years of practice for a new player.

To me, if the intent is to evoke a response in the player, then having a variable difficulty makes sense. The artistic purpose (and potential of the medium) is better served by a challenge that scales according to the player's ability. You get better, the bar gets set higher, maintaining that feeling of danger and triumph.

Making it a fixed experience is a different thing, establishing it more as a test or accomplishment. To me, that's moving away from artistic intent and instead issuing a challenge (whether between players, or just to yourself). Which is fine too, just, kind of a different thing.
User avatar
Exhuminator
Next-Gen
 
Posts: 11573
Joined: Tue Apr 30, 2013 8:24 am

Re: Are Cuphead and other difficult games ableist?

by Exhuminator Sun Oct 22, 2017 7:25 pm

It's okay for video games to have adjustable difficulty settings, if the designers wish to do so. Nothing is wrong with that.

It's not okay to mandate all video games have difficulty settings, that's totalitarian and short sighted. Short sighted totalitarianism is wrong.

Not every game has to be for every gamer. And that does not mean an unflinchingly difficult game is automatically exclusive. Rather it means that game is serving a niche demographic. A demographic which enjoys uncompromisingly difficult games. In that sense, said game is actually inclusive. It is including all fans of its designated genre. It is not excluding any gamer, unless that gamer is not a fan of hard games. To say "this game must be easier because it's not fair and I don't like it", to me is about as dumb as saying; "this football game needs to have mechs and tits because then I'd like it". If you added robots and breasts into a NFL simulation, it would no longer be a NFL simulation. So to decry a difficult game for actually being difficult is just as impudent. That's like putting a white tanooki suit into Demon's Souls. Demon's Souls would lose its whole point. The difficulty IS the point, you see.

This "ableism" debate honestly boils down to a lot of lazy gamers (not talking about legitimately disabled gamers) complaining about video games' difficulty, because they are simply too impatient to invest the practice required, to obtain the skill necessary to play a difficult game successfully. They would rather have the game bow down to them instead. So they are using this "ableism" debate as a Trojan horse to get their true agenda into developers' minds. I have a big problem with the viewpoint of mandatory difficulty options. Because that viewpoint comes from a mindset of entitlement. I believe entitlement is toxic. To the lazy gamers I say, check your entitlement. If you really want something in life (say to beat X game), then you should be willing to do the work required. Yes, hard games require hard work to beat. There is nothing wrong with that. A hard won golden victory is sweeter than one handed on a silver plate.

When it comes to legitimately disabled video gamers, things are not so clear cut. There are many different physical disabilities a person might have. Some gamers can only play games through a blow straw, or to blink their eyes. I've seen gamers like that play Super Mario Bros. and rhythm games even better than I do. I think those physically disabled but still skilled gamers are amazing, and I respect their gusto. And here's something else I can say; I've been physically disabled in my life before. I've been in bodycasts and wheel chairs when I was younger. When I was in a wheelchair, unable to walk, I watched my cousins play Track & Field on the NES with a Power Pad. The foot powered controller that is. Not once did I think it was the game's fault that I couldn't play too. Not once did I think Track & Field should be altered so that I could play like they did. I understood this was a game principally designed for people with working legs to enjoy. I was fine with that. I had other games I could play, which weren't designed with foot power in mind. So I have to imagine that many physically disabled gamers feel the same way. Sure, they might not be able to beat a frantic FPS, due to impaired mobility or reflexes. But who's to say they don't enjoy turn based strategy and adventure games all the same? Who's to say they don't enjoy those more? Not everything has to be for everybody. When I was a disabled gamer, I was A-OK with that.

So I've written above as a game player. Now I will write as a game designer. I have designed and produced a few video games in my life. The most recent was 2015's Shadow & Ash, a spooky adventure. While most of Shadow & Ash was easy to navigate, one part wasn't. The mazes. I put mazes into Shadow & Ash that increased in difficulty the further you went. These mazes were supposed to represent getting increasingly lost in a darkening forest. They purposefully got harder as you played, in order to convey the feeling of being more and more lost. I was implying the emotional turmoil of being lost as tangible difficulty. If instead, I had put a button to skip a maze if it was too hard, that would betray the core idea of what the mazes even meant in the first place. Their difficulty was a metaphor in which the challenge had a concrete purpose. Many other games use their inherent difficulty as a means of portrayal as well. So that is why I say uncompromisingly difficult video games have a right to exist. If nothing else, they have a right to exist as a form of artistic asseveration. I think it is incredibly disrespectful for anyone to demand a developer must compromise their own vision, in order to appease the entitled ego of any player. An unflinchingly difficult game is not a form of exclusion, but rather a form of expression.
PLAY KING'S FIELD.
User avatar
Erik_Twice
Next-Gen
 
Posts: 6248
Joined: Fri Mar 27, 2009 10:22 am
Location: Madrid, Spain

Re: Are Cuphead and other difficult games ableist?

by Erik_Twice Sun Oct 22, 2017 7:38 pm

isiolia wrote:A big caveat is that difficulty is subjective. So, if you're considering difficulty as an intended, inherent part of the game, then the question becomes just how much of a challenge it's meant to be. The same game may be a mildly invigorating romp for a seasoned gamer, while being a nigh-impossible task that takes months or years of practice for a new player.

While it's a very fair argument, I don't think it's very different from other aspects of art. For example, what is scary for someone new to horror movies might not even faze a fan and what is a difficult, technical debate for one might be a fun conversation for another. So in that sense, I think that's fine.

What I want to stress here is that anyone can play these games. Any gamer who can play The Witcher 3 or Overwatch can play Gradius. We all here know that you don't need to be crazy skilled to beat Cuphead or Castlevania, what matters the most is not how good you are, but perseverance and being willing to learn.

Making it a fixed experience is a different thing, establishing it more as a test or accomplishment. To me, that's moving away from artistic intent and instead issuing a challenge.

But issuing a challenge is itself an artistic statement! Following on my GnG example, the high level of challenge of the game is part of the game's theme. You are fighting the devil he's powerful, he's mean and he'll kill you if you underestimate him.

I really don't think GnG would work as a piece of art if it were not so challenging.

--
Great post, by the way, Exhuminator. Saw it once I published this post.
Looking for a cool game? Find it in my blog!
Latest post: Often, games must be difficult
http://eriktwice.com/
User avatar
marurun
Moderator
 
Posts: 9204
Joined: Sat May 06, 2006 8:51 am
Location: Cleveland, OH

Re: Are Cuphead and other difficult games ableist?

by marurun Sun Oct 22, 2017 8:32 pm

Very detailed explanation, Ex. We clearly agree that no developer should be forced to create something they don’t want and that difficulty by itself is insufficient to be ableism. But none of the things we disagree about have changed. Such is life.

One thing that gets ignored sometimes in discussions of difficulty is the ways to make game difficult. There are so many dimensions to that discussion that it constitutes it’s own topic. Game design is a fascinating field, especially the mechanics of challenge and difficulty.
B/S/T thread
My Classic Games Collection
My Steam Profile
The PC Engine Software Bible Forum, with Shoutbox chat - the new Internet home for PC Engine fandom.
User avatar
isiolia
Next-Gen
 
Posts: 5471
Joined: Mon May 16, 2011 1:52 pm
Location: Virginia

Re: Are Cuphead and other difficult games ableist?

by isiolia Sun Oct 22, 2017 9:49 pm

Erik_Twice wrote:But issuing a challenge is itself an artistic statement! Following on my GnG example, the high level of challenge of the game is part of the game's theme. You are fighting the devil he's powerful, he's mean and he'll kill you if you underestimate him.

I really don't think GnG would work as a piece of art if it were not so challenging.


Like I said though, an objectively easier game could create that same experience in many players. Meanwhile, the game might need to get harder for a select few for them to continue to feel that way. To me, that's more a part of game design in general - how to try and get players to feel certain ways, be motivated, and so on. So you could argue for it being art, but the same or similar mechanisms are used for all sorts of things (there was that Twitter thread not long ago with a few). It's cool to delve into really, but personally I'd still say it doesn't have to be a monolithic challenge to do that. It's important for bragging rights on the internet, but not to make a player feel like they really tried.

Erik_Twice wrote:What I want to stress here is that anyone can play these games. Any gamer who can play The Witcher 3 or Overwatch can play Gradius. We all here know that you don't need to be crazy skilled to beat Cuphead or Castlevania, what matters the most is not how good you are, but perseverance and being willing to learn.


Well, to be fair, not everyone can. It's likely that far more simply don't have the time or inclination to, but there's a segment of the population that literally lacks something allowing them to realistically succeed. Keeping in mind that it's not always going to be demanding twitch gaming. There have been similar concerns for Destiny 2 from folks with less time to play, for example. Accessibility looks different for different games or genres.

Personally, I think most of that isn't exactly ableist though. Little or none of it has anything directly to do with disabilities. Difficult games are intended to be difficult for everyone. If developers want to be uncompromising in that regard, they can do that. Personally, I just think that finding good ways to scale the game experience is just smarter going forward - keeps more people playing.

What I do think is ableist is not including things like customizable controls,. While I might just not like the layout, some people rely on that to play at all (ie here). There are similar things to consider with UI size/colors or other cues. FFXIV did a lot to enable customization (and things like visualized audio cues) and got recognized for it, not by toning down content, but by ensuring more people could make things work for them.
User avatar
Exhuminator
Next-Gen
 
Posts: 11573
Joined: Tue Apr 30, 2013 8:24 am

Re: Are Cuphead and other difficult games ableist?

by Exhuminator Sun Oct 22, 2017 11:24 pm

marurun wrote:One thing that gets ignored sometimes in discussions of difficulty is the ways to make game difficult. There are so many dimensions to that discussion that it constitutes it’s own topic.

I agree with you on this aspect. Perhaps someone will make a topic for it. I would myself, but I've made enough new topics lately.

In addition I think games should be inclusive concerning visual and audible cues that compensate impaired gamers. I'm talking about deaf or color blind gamers, having interfaces which accommodate those folks. Either directly or via menu options. Configurable controls are a no-brainer too.
PLAY KING'S FIELD.
Return to Games As Culture

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest