I have no idea where it happened, but it must have been around the PlayStation 2 era. The number of games in my collection was overwhelming and as a way to play more of them in less time, I started choosing the shameful easy mode whenever a game gave me the option. Whether you like it or not, most people pay too much attention to difficulty: reviewers mention it in their articles, fans discuss it in forums and friends who play video games on a regular basis talk about that incredibly hard game they beat. But there are some clear benefits to playing games in easy mode, especially when you don’t have the time or the energy to play in its default mode. Let’s look at some of the obvious advantages of playing games in easy mode as well as some of the disadvantages.
When it comes to selecting the game’s difficulty, you should think about how you like to play games in general and how you enjoy them the most. The rest is meaningless because if you aren’t going to enjoy the game, why play it in the first place? At this point in my life, powering through a game is something that I never want to do again. I tend to play games because they are relaxing and fun. Also, some of my favorite games are those with a story, a world that I can explore and characters I can get to know, so gameplay and mechanics come second. In a way, this approach to playing video games is more passive, like reading a book or watching a movie. This allows you to see the game’s design at your own pace.
As we grow up, most people have more disposable income and less time to play games and if you love the medium, there’s always that hunger to keep playing something new or different. To do that, sometimes you need to change the way in which you play games. Easy mode allows you to complete a given game in a timely fashion so that you can experience something else.
But let’s play devil’s advocate for a while and even though I enjoy playing certain games in easy mode to experience a story from beginning to end without having to worry too much about dying or replaying entire sections, there’s something to be said about playing games in the default or hardest difficulty available. You could argue that easy games aren’t as rewarding, games on lower difficulties play themselves, your experience will be completely different to that of players who selected a highest difficulty and you might never get to master certain mechanics. Those are all valid concerns, but you should be the one determining if lowering the difficulty makes sense or not, not guilt and certainly not people on the internet (not even me, for that matter.)
In conclusion, some people might like the challenge of playing games in the default or hardest difficulty levels, but as of late, I’ve had less time and energy to play games this way. There are some video game moments that I’ll always cherish, such as beating Contra without using the Konami code or completing Dark Souls without summoning other human players. But while those moments are special to me, I no longer have as much time to play games as I’d use to and if I want to keep playing them, the way in which I do so has to change. For now, that means switching most of them to easy mode. And that’s fine by me.