The Zen of Video Games – Easy Mode


I’m forever looking for excuses to write these days, which is a good thing, and not just because the evil overlords here at Leviathyn demand it. If I want to do this for a living someday, then I need all the practice I can get. But coming up with a topic that is both relevant to gaming and to my own self-improvement continues to be tricky. It feels like I’ve already gone over the major possible topics of discussion, and anything else would just be pushing it.

Maybe I should start over with a new series of articles. But I have no idea what the hook would be. I’ve got to make it stand out from the rest somehow, preferably without resorting to my endless supply of penis and poop jokes.

I wish there were an easier way. *snaps fingers* That’s it!

Thank the heavens for difficulty selection. It’s available in just about every game nowadays. I almost always start with easy mode and move up the difficulty in subsequent playthroughs. Easy frequently is TOO easy, but I tend to enjoy it anyway, because it makes me feel like a ridiculously unstoppable badass.

A feeling I do NOT get to enjoy in my daily life. Right now, it feels like I’m barely hanging on by my fingertips. Right now, I could be easily stopped by a gentle breeze, or a poorly-timed fart.

But I’m not sure if that’s the only reason why I play games on Easy difficulty the first time I play them. And I can say for certain that I play a lot of games on higher difficulties once they’ve proven too easy – my friends and I play NHL on the hardest difficulty now, and I can’t imagine playing Guitar Hero or Rock Band in anything OTHER than Expert mode.

Really? REALLY?!

There’s something about that slow progression from novice to adept to experienced to veteran that can hook me in as much as a good story or great gameplay. There’s something about confronting a challenge that continually gets more difficult to beat. Of course, that could be said about the rise in difficulty through the natural progression of the game – naturally the 4th level’s going to be harder than the 3rd – or at least it should be.

Yet, at the same time, the challenge is familiar and comforting. I’ve already bested a stage or a boss just like this, and even though it’s harder now, the fact that it’s similar is a confidence booster. Even if I fail, I will try again, because I know I CAN defeat it. And I think that’s what the whole difficulty-selection thing comes down to for me – confidence, my eternally brightly-glowing-red weak point.

Here’s a pretty girl with low self-esteem….I think. Google says so. But it’s entirely possible it’s just cold where she is.

I’ve never, EVER been confident in myself, not ever. It comes from a lifetime of extremely poor self-esteem. Even with my recent surge in success and self-improvement, I can’t really call myself confident. The problems that keep getting in the way don’t help, but even if everything was copacetic, I still think I’d be a shy fellow who tries to blend into the walls when I’m around people I don’t know.

I’m more confident as a gamer than as a person. I know with absolute certainty that if I pop Mass Effect 3 into my Xbox 360, that I will likely perform well, and given enough time, I will definitely beat the game, even if I struggle with a few parts here and there, I know I will ultimately triumph.

Especially when Shepard looks like this….hot damn.

As a person, I know no such thing. In life, I seem to repeatedly fail, no matter how hard I try, and only recently have I met with any real success, though that has been more due to luck and the kindness of friends and strangers rather than any real growth or extra effort on my part.

I am still woefully single, as I’ve been for quite some time now, and no woman I’ve ever actively pursued has ever wanted anything but friendship – the most frustrating gift ever. That’s not to say that I’ve always been single, I’ve had several girlfriends, but they all pursued ME. I only recently realized that I’ve never successfully wooed a woman. Not one.

This one picture sums up my entire dating career.

But life doesn’t have an EASY mode. There’s no real way to turn life’s difficulty down. At least the difficulty curve is somewhat consistent. But that seems to vary from person to person.

Of course, life isn’t a game, but it’s astonishing how easily it compares to one sometimes. You spend the beginning learning, and then you use what you’ve learned to clear challenges, deal with a succession of bosses, and then you can rest and enjoy the ending. I’m just not clearing the challenges very well. And the boss is less trouble than my idiotic A.I. partner.

Nothing against Sheva, she’s just the dumbest, most irritating A.I. partner I can think of at the moment. Okay, well, maybe not NOTHING against her….

Still, I think that’s one of the main reasons I am and have always been a gamer. I choose the challenges I want to face. And I choose how challenging they are.

I can’t control how difficult my life is. All I can do is keep playing, doing the best I can, and hope to eventually see the pants-tighteningly fantastic ending. Where I’m completely covered in women. And chocolate.

Hello, heaven.