How hard games make you a hard man

Or woman.

As a freakish fallout to this game trend of ultimate hedonism, wondrous examples of counter struggle appear, with its own bands of fanatically faithful followers. Examples like Dwarf Fortress, DayZ, The First Two S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games X series and the Misery mod for Call of Pripyat… These are the weird ones, the ones that go against the wave, with another wave made out of blood, or tiny cute ASCII blood.

blood copy

Marketing a hard game is something publishers are not really accustomed to, I mean who in their right mind is a masochist in this world of infinite pleasure and instant doughnut lava cakes? Why would people flee from the punishing monotony of their daily lives, to get some more punishment in a different medium? You need ironclad game developer balls to build something that isn’t instantly attractive or requires an “acquired taste” for it to start working its magic. So hard games keep to the fringes, for now.


 Mods are usually on the front lines since their budget (which is usually zero), isn’t very restraining towards the content of the game. Some developers like Dwarf Fortress’s “Toady” Tarn Adams eschew the graphics all together, while crafting the ultimate roller coaster learning curve together with one of the most intricate games ever devised. The Misery mod of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. dries out all the flora, rips the mercy out of the game and makes you scrounge for food in the worst, morally uncomfortable ways possible. If there were puppies in the Misery mod, they’d all have AIDS and a propensity to bite animal lovers.
Success in hard games is rare, but oh so rewarding. A hard game is an experience that the brain interprets less like a pleasurable stroll through the meadow and more like I’ve lived through hell and back. That specific kind of interpretation is what true game experiences are, they stick with you throughout life, and you apply those experiences in real life when need be. Games that break through the barrier of real life, that make you remember your experience there, without actually having to touch a computer. Games that feel like you’ve been living there for a small percent of your life, and you’ve siphoned the experience, the culture, you’ve been to another alternate universe and it is a part of your experience like that one time you got stuck with your family on a mountain trip, no gasoline, no phones, and you had to learn to adapt to the new environment, make that your new temporary home.

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