Different Invincibility Cloaks For Different Folks

As the old saying goes, what is to one person a thing of beauty and pleasure is to another simply a pile of bull’s turd.

This idea is central to traditional and dynamic game difficulty adjustment as well as to all other tuneable options with which players can create bespoke gameplay. People get different things out of games and as such want to play quite differently to one another.

Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

I’ve always known this; the copious traditional and emergent game genres tell me this, as do the beautifully intricate and personal altercations provoked between gaming communities by new releases. However, nothing tells me this quite like watching my mum play Half Life with her invincibility, invisibility and infinite ammo (?) cheats activated and a meticulously detailed walkthrough by her side. If there was some way to look at a game, a look that told it to be completed without ever having to lift a finger – a sly, Kenny Craig-type eyebrow-raising in my head – I rather think my mum would utilise it.

Kenny Craig, celebrity hypnotist

My mum resents – actually resents – being forced to undertake any kind of in-game challenge. I, on the other hand, am bored, even offended when a challenge is not forced upon me. It’s strange to see such transparently different play styles in the same household, to see how two people can actively seek and be rewarded by two entirely different game experiences.

Of course with RPGs things are slightly different because of the amount of gameplay on offer and your character’s narrowed ability to engage in it all. But I still undertake every mission that RPGs allow me to. Even those residual missions that turn my angelic, law-abiding, evil-slaying hero into a dirty, citizen-face-stabbing, prostitute-beating crack-whore (never suggest vanilla when you’re in bed with me, baby).

So, while my mum engages in her boss battle with infinite lives and invincibility under her bullet-proof belt, complaining about this rude interruption to her diehard trinket-collecting and environ-exploring, I cannot see what she could possibly be getting from the experience. I’ve created the following formula to demonstrate my feelings on the matter:

My mum’s goal is of course immersion. But how can one be immersed if he/she is not engaging in any challenges? Challenges are a part of life and only in overcoming them are we able to feel satisfaction. It is this pattern that ultimately immerses a person in a book, a film or a game. In a book or a film the audience struggles to make sense of the scenarios described, sometimes in competition with the author as the audience races to figure things out before experiencing any direct expositions. My mum’s definition of immersion is therefore very different to my own. It is one that I will never really understand.

Although there is another dimension to all of this. I enjoy, in all honesty, being punished. It’s the reason I get so much out of Call of Duty: Black Ops multiplayer games. Because when I do come top of the leaderboard (which has happened an impressive one times as of this writing) it tastes all the sweeter. The fact that my mum would choose to vomit on the creator of such games if she was ever forced to play them just goes to show how diverse gamers really are.






One response to “Different Invincibility Cloaks For Different Folks”

  1. The Rook avatar
    The Rook

    I like the challenge too, beating any Call Of Duty on veteran difficulty is both highly frustrating and rewarding between attempting and completing. None moreso than World At War where you fighting against a barrage of grenades and sharp shooters; as if the enemy were told that the war would be won if they could take out only me.

    And I do like getting those achievements along the way as a reward. 🙂

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