Sekiro: difficulty, challenge and empathy

May 4, 2019
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Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice may be a bit of a departure for From Software, but, like all the studio’s recent work, it’s resurrected the discussion regarding difficulty in video games.

Most commonly expressed, there is a fear that lowering difficulty levels would somehow detract from the quality of the game. A lot of the discussion around difficulty is simplistic, to say the least. It’s often as simplistic as “git gud”. Today I’d like to examine difficulty and a game’s sense of challenge specifically through the lens of disability. Disabled gamers adapt to challenges every day, so why stop at games?

The way I see it, an easy mode designed with disabled gamers in mind should basically group various accessibility options together to allow disabled gamers to enjoy the same experiences as other players. Game designers want people to play their games. Accessibility enables challenging games to be made playable by removing the unnecessary barriers forced upon us. It’s not making the game easier, but rather tailoring the experience to the broadest range of players.

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