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Like quite a few of you out there, I’m a man in a committed relationship. And like most of you in similar situations, me and my partner have little to no shared interests. As my writing here on Gamer Limit would reveal to anyone, one of my primary hobbies is playing videogames, I buy them, love them, and to a certain extent, live them. Naturally, I’d want to share this aspect of my life with my girlfriend, just as she is so intent to get me vested into the universe of Twilight (shiny vampires? No thank you).

The first few strokes my her indoctrination were made of the most obvious choices. Her Nintendo DS was arguably barely a step into real gaming. Mario Party DS was about as much of a game as taking out a pen and drawing circles on a piece of paper, but she loved it nonetheless. I may not identify a DS Mario game as being a contender for Game of the Year, but she liked it, and that fact was enough for me.

Future steps brought her into the console realm. Lego Star Wars was a significantly greater step, and we made our way through it. Two button gameplay wasn’t enough to overwhelm her, but the real hook was the fact that we were playing together. Hot on the trail was Peggle, a drug for Casual Gamers and Hardcore Gamers alike (See my review here). Again, she never had more fun with Peggle than when we were playing together. Naturally bringing us to Left 4 Dead, of course this is the natural evolution of steps, who says otherwise?

Here lies the problem, even when set on Easy, Left 4 Dead ain’t easy. Lego Star Wars to Left 4 Dead is a Godzilla sized step for a casual gamer, massive. The game requires full use of nearly every gizmo and gadget on the face of the controller. Both analog sticks, triggers, bumpers, pads, whatever. I had to stifle my laughter as my girlfriend was too busy attempting and failing to turn and shoot, that she didn’t even notice the zombies tearing her apart, limb from limb.

This poor girl, who simply wanted to do as her boyfriend was doing, gunning zombies down like Ving Rhames on stim packs, couldn’t catch a long enough break to do a quarter of that action. Easy just wasn’t easy enough for her.

Game companies are struggling to catch the golden “casual”, and if they want to succeed, they need to make these casuals feel as badass as we do when we get our skills on point. As gamers, we love gloating about prestige levels and hitting level caps, and it takes varying amounts of effort for that, effort that casual gamers, such as my girlfriend can’t afford to provide.

Casual Gamers need an “Easy” button. Much like the beginning levels of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, in which gamers got to use the big, bad, Darth Vader before getting to play the womanly Apprentice, there should be the option to run amuck in god mode throughout the entirety of the game. It’s an injustice to no one if people decide that they want to play Mass Effect 2 by starting out with a tricked out Commander Shepherd from the start, or going into Bioshock 2 with every plasmid unlocked from the start.

It won’t be difficult for game companies to incentivize playing through the game normally, with achievements, trophies, special costumes and endgame rewards. As some would say about cheating on a test, it’s a victimless crime, and the only possible outcome is more enjoyment of the title.

At the very least, my girlfriend will kill more zombies, and in the end, doesn’t everyone win?

Be responsible Game Publishers, help curb the zombie menace, put easily accessible God Modes in your games.

The Sunday Soapbox is an account of the writer’s personal opinions and not representative of Gamer Limit’s opinions as a whole.

  1. I agree, some games assume that the player has *some form of skill*, but for alot of first time gamers, who have no idea what they’re doing it can be very difficult. Take Street Fighter IV for example, alot of reviews claimed that Seth was far too hard, even on the easiest setting. :)

  2. Some games have this, but you’re right; not nearly enough do at all. For instance, Devil May Cry has “easy-automatic”, that does combos at the push of a button that goes active when you die too much. Onimusha had it as well.

    Basically old-school Capcom action-adventure games, haha! This is a great feature! Casual gamers beating these games at all, even if it’s on super easy is better than nothing.

  3. Having a girlfriend that wants to play lots of faster paced games but simply isn’t all the way there yet, I’m going to have to agree with you. There are tons of games I would like to play with her.

    Unfortunately, I can see this sort of “easy button” being released as DLC before I see it come standard for all games. We can hope.

  4. avatar Jeroen Brattinga

    I wholeheartedly agree! This is exactly why the Wii sells as much as it does. Still the question remains: is it really necessary to “casualize” the more hardcore games (on X360, PS3 and PC) if there are already enough (Wii) alternatives?

  5. avatar Michelle

    At first I was skeptical, who could enjoy a game that way but you convinced me. Let them be God if they want to.

  6. avatar Jeff

    people call it cheating…. but to the Girlfrieds of us gamers its just playing. and you have to admit sometimes when you play the games 5 times through you want to just screw around and play god in them. Whats the harm we already bought the games, you made your money.

  7. It’s interesting that you found Left 4 Dead’s easy too hard, as I would have suggested that as a good game to remedy the symptom had you not already bashed it :S
    The dynamic difficulty curve it uses changes how hard the level is going to be depending on player’s efforts, so that should be a shining pinnacle of fitting a game to a player’s skill level, a shame it didn’t pan out. Or maybe you were just playing way too well, and she suffered the consequences :P

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