The Difficulty in Picking “Easy”


McKenzie’s article: Easy Mode Ain’t Easy (When You’re Disabled)

Gamers should be able to enjoy their games at their own pace and difficulty without being unnecessarily guilted by the game. This goes for all players, disabled or not. 20% of gamers have some form of disability, which shows how much you are alienating your audience when you make your game inaccessible to disabled players. (Moss, 2014) Wolfenstein 3D is cited as the perpetrator for the trend of humiliating “casual” players. (McKenzie, 2016) Saints Row The Third, a game in a similar vein as Wolfenstein, gave us a merciful difficulty selection screen which, in a game as rowdy and outrageous as it is, feels like a small and very appreciated blessing.

sdfrgvcxzsFig. 1 (StealthTiger, 2016)

The trend of games using idiosyncratic difficulty screens to patronize players serves no purpose but to assert that there are gamers who are undeserving of feeling good playing games. (Moss, 2014) What purpose is there in condescending to your audience when they’ve purchased your game in good faith that it will provide an enjoyable experience? There is a profit involved when making your game more accessible and comfortable for the disabled player, which is increasing the equity of your brand. (Drumbeat, 2010) Difficulty screens exist to accommodate for a player’s preferred play-style, which may be more story or gameplay oriented. There are even plenty of games which punish, ridicule or infantilize the player beyond the difficulty screen for their choice to play at an easier level. (Roberts, 2016) Infantilizing disabled people for not being able to perform at the same level as an abled person is an issue that extends far beyond the game industry. (Robey, 2006) When you insert idiosyncratic dialogue into these screens or other pretentious jabs that insult the player for their choice, it defeats the purpose of having them make this choice in the first place. (White, 2016)

Fig. 2 (Kotaku, 2016)


drumbeat, (2010). Making Videogames Accessible for Disabled Gamers: The Value of Brand Equity. [online] DrumBeat Consulting. Available at: [Accessed 10 Jul. 2016].

McKenzie, B. (2016). Easy Mode Ain’t Easy (When You’re Disabled) — Deorbital. [online] Medium. Available at: [Accessed 10 Jul. 2016].

Moss, R. (2014). Why game accessibility matters. [online] Polygon. Available at: [Accessed 10 Jul. 2016].

Plunkett, L. (2016). Easy Modes Can Ruin Games? Um, No.. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 Jul. 2016].

Roberts, D. (2016). Games that treat you like dirt for playing on easy mode. [online] gamesradar. Available at: [Accessed 10 Jul. 2016].

Robey, K., Beckley, L. and Kirschner, M. (2006). Implicit Infantilizing Attitudes About Disability. Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities, 18(4), pp.441-453.

StealthTiger, (2016). Saints Row: The Third – Gameplay Walkthrough (Part 1) “Heist Gone Wrong”. [online] YouTube. Available at: [Accessed 10 Jul. 2016].

White, B. (2016). Talk Amongst Yourselves. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 Jul. 2016].


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