Pedagogy, game design, and difficulty – are designers teaching their games wrong?

A Most Agreeable Pastime

DKPixelIn the very early days of video games they were primarily aimed at teaching the player how to progress. Improvement was a key driver of early arcade games, incentivised both through the per play pricing structure of the machines, and the most basic of desires to be the best by appearing on the high score table.  It was a clear cut case of games being mechanically simple, but progressively more difficult, encouraging betterment through dedication and analysis.  There may have been some elements of randomness, but anyone that has played these games or watched documentaries about them knows that learning their patterns is key to becoming truly great at them.  They may not be dense on content or variety, but having that sole focus gives these old games a mechanical transparency that makes them ‘masterable’.

Since those arcade games of yesteryear however, the medium has fundamentally changed, in part…

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