Want to play a game? Let’s imagine that you’re about to be born. Right as you’re leaving the womb, time freezes and a menu pops up:
- God Mode (Defeat Normal or Hard)
Which would you pick? It’s a challenging decision, as it will affect every move you make for the rest of your life. By picking Easy you might not feel satisfied when completing all the quests and side missions. You also heard that there’s some content not available on Easy mode. But, hard is gonna be… hard. There’s a distinct possibility things might not turn out how you wanted and you’ll be shit out of luck. Now normal, that sounds tempting. You’ll feel you’ve earned your keep without having to subject yourself to the frustration and annoyance of a demanding lifestyle. You stare at the menu, contemplating this reality-altering decision for a moment longer.
Flash forward to 20 years later. Sitting in front of your TV, you are faced with the same decision. This is a challenging decision, as it will affect every move you make for the rest of the video game you’re about to start.
By picking Easy, you know that you’ll be able to blow through those levels without a second thought. You won’t have to waste time grinding because the next dungeon is a touch too challenging. You will always know where to go next, never having to scour the map for your next quest. Knowing that one shotgun round to the head will obliterate that enemy is a feeling of comfort to you. And it’s not like you have all the free time in the world. You have to work 60 hours a week to support your little sister after your parents died in that awful accident two years ago. You just want to come home and pown some n00bs before bed. Don’t forget, you’ve got your third date with the new person from accounting on Friday. They’re really great and your sister loves them. Plus, with your painting career finally taking off you don’t have anything to prove to anyone who sees your Gamerscore.
But hard is gonna be… hard. You’re going to replay that boss battle five or six times just to figure out how to not die, let alone how to beat him. It’s going to take one hit from even the lowliest foe to ruin your afternoon. Completing the game 100% is going to be an uphill battle when you’re not even sure if what you’re doing is even affecting your progress. And this is the challenge you’ve been looking for. Ever since your high school All-American football days you’ve wanted an outlet for your competitiveness. You don’t make a lot of money so the longer you can stretch out that minimum wage budget with a game you can’t beat in one sitting the better. Growing up you were told that everything was handed to you on a silver platter but this is your chance to prove that you work hard and earn your keep.
Now normal, that sounds tempting. Defeating enemies will be tough but not impossible. Completing missions may be difficult but getting an occasional hint will help in times of desperate need. This sounds like the perfect gaming experience. You’re a pretty normal person. Some amazing things have happened in your life, some good and some bad. No one is ever going to write a book about you, but you’ve got a healthy amount of people following your blog. Some things come naturally to you and plenty of other things will always keep you bewildered.
You smile as the thought of being able to set a difficulty on life comes to mind. That’d be pretty cool, but which would you pick? You begin to get this weird feeling in your gut, like someone is trying to tell you something. It’s almost like some long lost memory is pushing you toward one of the choices on your screen. But, which one? You might not know which option is best until you’re halfway through…
Wait, that’s perfect. This game, this twenty hours of escape is your way to finally pick your difficulty. It’s your chance to evaluate what you’re looking for and actually choose which path you’ll go down. And when you hit those roadblocks you know you can overcome them. This is a game; these obstacles are made to be hurdled. It’s just a matter of figuring out how to hurdle those barriers. And if you can’t hurdle them you change the difficulty, or pick up a strategy guide.
Suddenly the choice seems so simple. It was right in front of you all along. Your entire life has been leading up to this moment. This is your re-do. So, you pick up the controller and hit A. If it’s too easy, then you’ll make it harder. If it’s too hard, you’ll cruise the Internet for tips and tricks. And if it’s just right, then maybe you’ll come closer to figuring out what kind of person you are.
As the opening cinematic plays, you look around your apartment, taking it all in. Things could be a lot better, but damn could they be worse. For a moment, everything feels just right.