Kingdom Hearts

A Defense of Easy Mode

Michael Phelps swam a lot. Tiger Woods golfed for thousands of hours. Steph Curry took a ton of 3-pointers. Practice often develops excellence but not for me.

I have played thousands of hours of video games, but I am still terrible at them. I will confidently pick the standard difficult level and then proceed to die over and over again. Most of the time, I will give up within a few hours and restart on easy. This happens so frequently that I now often just start on the easiest setting.

Playing games on easy is a little humiliating. When playing Doom, you look like a wuss when you select “I’m Too Young to Die”. But at least in that game you are fighting badass demons. The most embarrassing time I recently picked easy mode came in Kingdom Hearts. No matter how cool Square Enix tries to make the series, at their heart they are still Disney games. Kingdom Hearts is in a similar vein to Tigger’s Honey Hunt. I looked like a five year old when I died to Ursula on beginner mode. There was even a point where I had to grind for experience before I could beat one of the later levels.

But I am still OK with playing on easy. I mean, it is only mildly humiliating. My preference for lower difficulties comes down to two aspects:

1. Not enough time When I was in high school, I had plenty of free time. I could spend weeks unsuccessfully trying to beat Halo on legendary. Nowadays though, I barely have any time to game. So in those brief half-hours of playtime, I want to make some actual progress instead of dying ten times to the same boss. If I had played Kingdom Hearts on standard, the game would have probably taken me the rest of the year to complete.

2. Failing is not fun Most video games are power fantasies, but it is hard to feel like a powerful badass if you wipe to a single frost wolf in Skyrim. If I wanted to experience more failure, I would just spend more time at work or talking to women. On the other hand, easy mode makes me look like a dominating hero even if I am only mashing on the attack button.

I have never been good at video games, and over the years my skills have degraded even further. By the time I am 35, I will probably only be able to watch Let’s Plays instead of picking up a controller. So for right now, I am content with my choice of difficulty. I choose to have a relaxing gaming experience. I choose to use my time wisely. I choose easy, and I am only slightly embarrassed to admit that.

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