I’m not in the habit of criticising video game journalists for their opinions. After all, what we’re so often trying to do is put across a view that might help consumers make decisions or, at the very least, entertain them for a brief window of time. That being said, it’s a dangerous game putting across opinion as an inarguable fact, particularly when it concerns a subject that can so easily be coloured by context or circumstance of the individual.
This is where we come to an article published on Kotaku today, in which the idea that the Easy mode in the recent remake of Final Fantasy VII is too easy, comes to the fore. In and of itself, this is not an offensive discussion to have and the idea that a difficulty level in between Easy and Normal could be added, is one with a number of merits. Equally, and for clarity, I am yet to play FFVII so I’m not sure if the statement itself is accurate, but that’s somewhat beside the point.
If you’re yet to read the original piece, some of the more controversial excerpts are as follows:
Combat in Final Fantasy VII Remake, especially when facing powerful boss battles, involves juggling normal and special attacks, destructive and healing magics, and strategically exploiting enemy weaknesses. Unless you’re playing in easy mode. Then it’s just button-mashing b******t.
I am the last person to shy away from playing a game on easy, but Final Fantasy VII Remake’s easy mode is a joke. And it’s not even the game’s easiest setting. Classic mode is easy mode, only your character attacks and defends automatically. It might as well be a visual novel
There are a number of glaring flaws here, which not only show a lack of understanding in the diversity of such a large game’s player base, but also dismiss large numbers of equally valuable gamers in their entirety. Firstly, and without a doubt most importantly, is the issue of accessibility in gaming – something which we have written about on a number of occasions. It is absolutely the duty of the industry at large, and by extension games journalists, to include and take into consideration as many people as possible. Those chiefly affected by attitudes and rhetoric like this are those with both physical and mental disabilities. My father has been disabled for almost 19 years and, amongst other things, he has limited use of his left hand. This makes games with tricky mechanics or rapid gameplay not only difficult, but on occasion impossible. Now, although this hasn’t affected him significantly (he’s a massive Civilization II fan, which doesn’t require much “button mashing”) there are thousands out there who just want to share in the experience that we are all privileged enough to have. Modes like the aforementioned Classic mode allow for the participation of more people than ever, and further opportunities for everyone to drink in uniquely crafted stories and game worlds.
To call a difficulty mode that allows these struggles to be managed “b******t” is not only dismissive in the highest regard, it is also deeply troubling at a time when developers are making more efforts than ever to become as inclusive as possible. It shows a lack of awareness in the wider industry and who it is attempting to cater for. It is not only those with physical disabilities who benefit frrom modes like this, but also those with unseen illnesses and mental disabilities. In the article, a particularly tricky fight against a pack of dogs is described as one that even a gamer as accomplished as a full-time journalist would have difficulty overcoming – hence the switching to Easy in the first place and the article that followed. It is, by all accounts, a very hectic virtual situation to be in and one which may be difficult for those in a more fragile state to deal with – particularly with the intensity of the content being ramped up so suddenly and significantly.
Finally, and I find it mad that I’m even having to say this, it’s called Easy mode. Just because you’ve decided that one of the lowest difficulties in the game isn’t as hard as you were expecting, does not mean that opinion is the prevailing one (or in this case replicated by anyone in the known universe). We have to take more responsibility for the words we put out into the ether, particularly when it is for a site that has a huge following. These ideas are instantly put in front of thousands of eyes and it is gross negligence to not take this into consideration when publishing work. Of course, this is the opinion of one person, and not Kotaku as a whole, but the fact that it was put out in the first place leaves a lot to be desired, and shows a lack of awareness in the problems facing people on an everyday basis.
In a time where we have collectively made an effort to be kind to one another, it’s perhaps time to take it a step further and bring greater consideration into the conversation. For the sake of everyone, particularly in times like these.
The views contained herein do not represent the views of anyone other than the writer of the piece. They are independent from GameRVW as a company and the other members of the team.