Measuring Difficulty in Games

How do you measure difficulty levels in games? Can you measure them?  I suppose what I’m really asking is who says what games are classified as being: difficult, tricky, mildly taxing, relatively easy or a cake walk?  I hope by now you’ve figured out that it’s really each and every single one of us.  It’s totally subjective.

Some will have you believe that game difficulty is measured solely on consensus of opinion by the hardcore gamers.  A good example is Modern Warfare 2.  Consensus of opinion says that it is easier than it’s predecessor.  I’ve found it quite challenging on normal settings thank you very much!  I’ve often found myself holed down in a relatively safe spot before hearing a loud THWACK and either seeing another inspiring quote or reading the sage words of advice such as ‘vehicles on fire may explode’ and  ‘it might be an idea to stay way from grenades going off’ from what I call the game’s hindsight detector.

Ok, so I ad-libbed those pieces of advice.  But what I’m trying to get at is that sometimes before I knew it, I had died more times than Bill Murray in the space of a minute!  The Gulag level springs to mind, for instance.  This may sound like I’m complaining, but I’m not.  In this case, the controls are spot-on, gameplay is realistic, and the challenge is set at such a level that the appetite to try just one more time never diminishes.  I’m looking forward to another run through of the game on hardened and veteran.

I can say that Modern Warfare 2 has been the most challenging game I’ve come across for quite some time.  Looking at other games I can say that yes, Uncharted 2 is easier than the first game, Burnout Paradise really is easy, Arkham Asylum’s main story is easy enough but the challenge rooms are tough and Assassin’s Creed II is easy.  But those are just my words which may seem empty if your experiences have differed.  I’m only speaking for myself here.  The bit I love about this topic though, is that everyone’s opinion is valid.

Does anyone want to share some of their experiences with different games?  The only people I don’t want to hear from are unemployed teenagers who do a 9 till 6 shift gaming.  I just can’t compete with that.  😉

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