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Do You Believe Challenge Is The Core Of Video-Games?

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This is a sentiment I've seen being echoed a lot throughout the Internet, the belief that at the core of gaming itself lies the need to overcome a challenge. And honestly, I don't know how to think about it myself... At a first glance it seems obvious enough, people who play games have the ultimate goal of beating it by surpassing all its obstacles. We all want to reach the exit switch at the end of the level, but first we need to wade through all the monsters in-between. And to finally triumph over all that shit that came across your path brings an enormous deal of satisfaction.

 

That is all true and undeniable when talking about most video-games, but that's the thing. There are exceptions. What about walking simulators? Open-ended sandbox games? Hell, just any weird artsy game without a general purpose to it. Are they any less of a "game" just because they lack the challenge component? What do you think?

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The essence is to escape or immerse into another reality where you do (genre-specific) problem solving tasks/missions to reach certain goals.

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Depends on the game, literally.

 

For instance, a survival horror has most of the enjoyment from fear that is compounded by the player running low on resources and having to fight something dangerous, the stress is the enjoyment (I am playing System Shock 2 and the stress of not having AP ammo do be making me panic).

 

If I'm playing a strategy game, I want to win a battle, I don't want to just run over everything I want to earn the gratification of triumph.

 

If I'm playing something like an open world sandbox, mess around kind of game like GTA or something, they're a lot more fun when you aren't being splattered every five seconds.

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Not at all. The fact that there has to necessarily be a goal or some stupid challenge is just idiotic. Those games can exist, but we're at a point now where plenty of things are made which can mimic the arcadeish challenge of the old days if we so choose.

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Engagement is at the core of video games.  Games can, but do not have to, generate that engagement via presenting an enjoyable challenge.

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I've always thought the problem here is that we call them "videogames," which implies they're a subset of "games." It's a misleading name: the videogame space is a wide church, which meshes together games, narrative, visual art, music - and a host of other things - into an incredibly diverse medium that we somewhat unfortunately decided to call "videogames" before it was mature enough for us to understand the wider potential of what it can be.

 

The "game" part of that word is no more important than the "video" part, and neither parts fully describe what the things we're talking about actually are. Each videogame places importance on different aspects of the gigantic grab-bag of media that make up the medium: Some videogames place emphasis on challenge, some on narrative, some on art, some purely on creating an emotional experience, and so on. They're all videogames! Doom is a videogame, and so is (for example,) Dear Esther. They just place importance on different aspects of the things that make up the medium.

 

Challenge is a popular thing for videogames to put emphasis on, but Elden Ring's difficulty doesn't make it "more" of a videogame than, say, Animal Crossing. Just a different one.

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45 minutes ago, Nootrac4571 said:

 

The "game" part of that word is no more important than the "video" part, and neither parts fully describe what the things we're talking about actually are. Each videogame places importance on different aspects of the gigantic grab-bag of media that make up the medium: Some videogames place emphasis on challenge, some on narrative, some on art, some purely on creating an emotional experience, and so on. They're all videogames!

 

Well, not exactly. Some alternative names for media that doesn't really include a game aspect have begun to be used, like "visual novel." Of course these terms are lesser known and the average person would still call it a VG as long as there are buttons to press and things on a screen. But, I think it is worth noting that as the medium does mature like you said, better descriptions for things also evolve.

 

Defining the word game is pretty difficult, if you look at the Wikipedia page you'll get a variety of angles. To me the aspect that seems most fundamental is that the outcome is not certain. So I would think there can be games that don't actually involve any challenge, such as games of pure chance. Just rolling dice can be a game because there is a goal that can be met in order to "win", but the players don't have any challenge to overcome... All they do is throw the dice and hope that they are lucky.

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I think the core of video games is "Fun". A game needs to be fun. How it does that is different for different genres. There are many games which are just unfun and those games are bad games.

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In a technical sense, no. Since we see a lot of games that are popular without really having much, if any challenge.

But I think a lot of people do genuinely seek a challenge in a lot of games they play, and I have definitely nerfed myself in certain games to prevent "cheese tactics" or something like that. Sure it makes things harder but I want my victories, even against unfeeling AI, to be fair and earned.

If there is challenge, it makes success all the more satisfying, so I think a lot of people have fun chasing challenge. So to me, it's a pretty important part to games, but at the same time not a requirement, if that even makes any sense.

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55 minutes ago, Zulk RS said:

I think the core of video games is "Fun". A game needs to be fun. How it does that is different for different genres. There are many games which are just unfun and those games are bad games.

Even if you want to exclude Serious Games like simulators used to train people to use industrial machinery, do you really want to argue the core of something like Getting over it or Pathologic is "Fun"? Because I don't think even the biggest fans of those games would agree.

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Yes. Also serious simulations that are actually used to train people in different work sectors, I see less as a "Video Game" and more like a "Training Tool" so I'm not including those when I say the core of games is "Fun".

 

And I do think something like Getting Over It is fun. It gets its fun from the feeling of overcoming a challenge. That is not fun for me but I assume those that love that game find that part fun.

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But I play it because it's *not* fun. I play it because it's frustrating and miserable, and I'll probably never finish it, but I find dealing with these feelings is useful sometimes.

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2 hours ago, Captain red pants said:

But I play it because it's *not* fun. I play it because it's frustrating and miserable, and I'll probably never finish it, but I find dealing with these feelings is useful sometimes.

 

You do you but I genuinely never understood this mindset. What exactly do you find useful about being frustrated and miserable? Personally, I always felt that if I'm going to be spending my free time playing Video Games, I don't want it to play something that will make me frustrated and miserable. It's one thing if that frustration and misery ends in a cathartic payout like beating that one boss that you've been stuck on a for 3 days but I don't really understand why someone would want to play something that actively makes them miserable. Enlighten me?

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Because like many humans, my day to day is full of frustration and misery that is often out of my control, so sometimes a little frustration and misery that I have control over can help put's things into perspective. The fact that I can stop on my own terms and it doesn't matter.

I dunno, maybe building up my tolerance for failure could be seen as a kind of 'Fun' if you want to stretch the definition, but I really feel that's a misrepresentation the games themes.

Edited by Captain red pants

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I have a 20 month old daughter, sometimes when she bumps her head or something, she'll go back and do it again but in a slightly more controlled manner. It's apparently a normal human coping mechanism.

 

We are strange creatures...

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For me personally, and I stress that I will be using 'I' language so no motherfuckers can tell me I'm wrong about my own opinions (oh, hey, this has been a pretty sour subject for me in the past, k?) videogames are first and foremost about the escapism. I'm pretty open about what that entails, as sometimes I want to escape into a wasteland and gun down punks from my battered old car; sometimes it's a kaleidoscope of geometric neon shapes shooting other neon shapes I wanna get lost in; and other times, it's just running peacefully through a brightly-coloured landscape to pass the time. Or I wanna stack coloured blobs. Or, I think you get the impression.

 

Challenge is, well, I personally don't like videogames to frustrate me. Challenge is very welcome, of course, or a game gets sorta boring easy. My ideal level is one, maybe two steps out of the comfort zone and I like a playful and well-intentioned challenge rather than a sadistic and mean-spirited one (k, so anyone who remembers me ever professing my love for Plutonia -- I consider that playful, k? Probably because it is, as desired, just a couple of steps away from cozy). Being hard for hard's sake doesn't do it for me. Escapism that I can feel good about anything I've achieved (instead of 'relieved it's finally over'), that's the platonic ideal right there.

 

tl;dr - I personally play games for a good time, not a hard time.

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Depends. While I enjoy and sometimes prefer challenging games at times, I tend to prefer the fun factor of gameplay.

Edited by Panzermann11

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Nope. I don't. Some of my fav games are purely narrative, or are cozy vibe games about relaxing. I love hard games too - dark souls is my all time favourite game and I love me a good Ribbiks map - but other experiences exist in this artform and to deny them is elitist nonsense that just holds the medium back.

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On 10/15/2023 at 5:32 AM, Captain red pants said:

But I play it because it's *not* fun. I play it because it's frustrating and miserable, and I'll probably never finish it, but I find dealing with these feelings is useful sometimes.

Are you talking about Path of Exile?

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I like having to worry about things beyond my skills IRL but are well within my capabilities of solving in a controlled setting, reinforces that power fantasy.

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in my opinion, this is kind of like asking "is escapism the core of movies?"

 

Sure its one aspect of why one might engage with movies, and for some people, its the only reason they watch movies. I've seen people online say its the core appeal of movies. But its literally just one way of engaging with or appreciating movies.

 

If there is a "core" to movies, I'd argue it's literally just "moving images that tell stories", and likewise, if theres a core to video games it would have to just be "its interactive"

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On 10/14/2023 at 5:38 PM, OniriA said:

The essence is to escape or immerse into another reality where you do (genre-specific) problem solving tasks/missions to reach certain goals.

// eat dots and fruit. avoid ghosts... unless you've got the upper hand.. insert quarters.. repeat...

omar.jpg

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5 hours ago, LoatharMDPhD said:

// eat dots and fruit. avoid ghosts... unless you've got the upper hand.. insert quarters.. repeat...

this reminds me of a line from my essay ab pacman being nonbinary:

Quote

However, Sonic is given explicit motivations and personality traits which skew towards prototypically masculine ideals: cunning, heroism, wit, aggression, etc. Sonic seeks to defeat great conflict and adversity using his own finely tuned skills, whereas Pac-Man seeks to eat dots and avoid ghosts.

 

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1 hour ago, Mr. Freeze said:

Yes. Without challenge there is no game, there is only a movie or book. 

but there can be spectacle and showman ship l . ..  im referencing video games of yore, that were VHS based and had kind of a "tell-tale" thing to them... were they, any good/ and or a video game? by antique and contemporary standards...

 

See @GermanPeter and his moving from flats map for a postulate...

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