Why we’re addicted to really hard games

A growing number of hardcore gamers say that today’s game releases are far too easy, offering no challenge to players. Maybe that’s why we’re now seeing a new generation of ridiculously hard games captivating new players every day. But why would we inflict such torture on ourselves? Where is the fun in seeing one Game Over after another?

I spoke with two other Softonic editors, Jan-Hendrik and Vincent, to analyze this phenomenon.

Here, we share our personal views and try to explain why we’re addicted to unforgiving games. Our tormentors: Dark Souls 2, DayZ and Flappy Bird. Although these 3 games seem completely different, they do have one thing in common: they all seem to be extremely difficult.

Dark Souls II and Jan-Hendrik: “No room for luck or chance”

Jan Hendrik I remember very well how the Dark Souls addiction started, a rather difficult experience if I remember correctly. “Am I already dead? After only a few steps? And, what? Do I have to start all over again?” It seemed unfair. But by learning from my mistakes, I started to discover its secrets. I soon understood how to avoid enemy attacks to stay alive a little longer, even though the creatures seemed to be more and more gruesome.

Default player


I’ve had the chance to try Dark Souls II, and I can tell you that the game has kept the dense and brutal style that characterizes the series. If you’re not careful, even the smallest creatures can kill you. But, I’m sure you’re asking yourselves why I find almost certain death exciting? The answer is simple: being in constant danger creates a unique bond between me as a player, and my character in the game.

Every Game Over feels like a personal failure with serious consequences that I try to avoid at all costs.

When I’m playing Dark Souls, I want to protect my pixelated alter ego with my life. And the thing is, I don’t feel that connection when I’m playing most first person shooter games or other role-playing games. I think that my addiction can be explained by two unique features of the game. In Dark Souls, I am responsible for the death of my character, and the death of the character has real consequences, unlike other games out there. Every Game Over feels like a personal failure with serious consequences that I try to avoid at all costs.

Yes, Dark Souls is an extremely difficult. But it is a fair and well-balanced game. By paying attention and preparing for it, players are capable of overcoming all difficulties. In this game, there is no room for luck or chance. Only your dexterity, your observational skills, and your ability to learn will help you win. When playing Dark Souls, every Game Over is a new lesson that you have to put into practice immediately. I try my best to learn these lessons by heart!

DayZ and Vincent: “A game for masochists”

Vincent DayZ is definitely a tough game. I could even say it’s a game for masochists, considering that all the pleasure it gives you comes from the pain that is inflicted on your character. Like many other hardcore games, DayZ is based on permanent death to provide a more captivating gaming experience. In DayZ, once your character is dead, he’s dead for good. It’s impossible to bring him back to life or even to keep his progression or gear!

Default player


It’s all about starting from scratch, and that’s what makes DayZ so interesting: the opportunity to rediscover the game’s huge world with new eyes. You’ll struggle to find water, bandages, and a rudimentary weapon to defend yourself from the zombies, and just when you’ve (re)assembled your supplies and regained a mild sense of security and hope, you’ll die again.

In DayZ, once your character is dead, he’s dead for good.

I think that if I was the only survivor in a post-apocalyptic world infested with zombies, I wouldn’t be as afraid as I am when I play DayZ. A random shot, a zombie biting you, or a simple fall can immediately kill you and make you lose hours of progress, and that just makes DayZ a more intense experience. For me, its difficulty and brutality make it one of the scariest games of all time.

Flappy Bird and Samuel: “A community of crazy players”

Samuel I’m sure that by now, you’ve heard of a little mobile game called Flappy Bird. In only a few days, this basic game drove the whole internet crazy. Between rumors of plagiarism and several financial rumors, more and more new players became mysteriously addicted every day. Black magic? Hypnosis? How could anyone explain this sudden attraction to a pixelated bird?

Some thought the reason for its sudden fame was its extreme difficulty. Others believed it had something to do with how simple it was. Personally, I wasn’t impressed by the pixelated design or its simple and unoriginal gameplay. It’s precisely the combination of these two elements, in fact, that could be behind the game’s short-lived success.

Flappy Birds

I was not impressed by Flappy Bird’s pixelated and simple design

You don’t need a degree in video game design to recognize that Flappy Bird’s design was heavily inspired by Super Mario Bros., a classic among classics that stamped its pixilated characters into the retinas of a whole generation. It’s as if smartphone owners knew Flappy Bird even before they started playing it.

The game’s legendary simplicity could also explain its success. Flappy Bird gives the impression that anyone can play it, since all you need to control the bird is one finger. Unfortunately, this sensation also leaves unlucky players with a sense of frustration that stays with them even when they try again and again.

Flappy Bird gives the impression that anyone can play it…

But, in my opinion, the true genius of Flappy Bird is in how quickly you can start playing again. If your bird has miserably crashed into one of the iconic green tubes, all you need to do is press a button. It’s this simplicity that’s been welcomed like a breath of fresh air.

In my case, it was the community of crazy players that made me become briefly addicted to Flappy Bird; the game’s integrated sharing options let players show off their ridiculous scores and challenge their friends.

That was all I needed to start. For days and days I fought to become the first of my Google+ contacts to reach the impressive score of 36! Can anyone beat that? Probably not; as you know, the game was taken down from the App Store and Google Play by its developer shortly after the craze, so unless you already have the game on your phone, you can’t even try. Lucky, there are some alternatives, more or less challenging, that you can try.

If you’re stronger than us and want to try something a little less addictive, check out our ‘The best PC games for…’ series to find games to fit any mood.

Have you been addicted to any games lately?

RELATED STORIES:

Loading comments