James Morgan

Document Type

Final Class Paper

Publication Date

Fall 12-5-2021


Difficulty, Incentive, Flow, Games


Throughout time games have been utilized for a great variety of purposes: relaxing leisure, competitive activity, intellectual exercise, and many other sources of enjoyment. The element of difficulty has existed in various degrees throughout all of those game styles, usually found through the skill of an opponent, but lately many games have been designed to have a digital opponent to provide that difficulty. With access to more information than ever before, people have gotten the chance to witness lives and worlds that they can never physically enjoy, and this has led to a considerable market for games that can provide at least a fraction of such an experience. People often seek out the ability to immerse themselves through narrative, simulated companionship or a game that provides a sense of purpose. A sense of purpose is established when a person can consider it their duty to overcome a presented obstacle, and the most skilled and experienced of players will tend to aim for bigger and more challenging obstacles over time. This desire for challenge or productivity can be further increased by the sentiment held by many individuals in society that gaming is a waste of time. To counteract that instilled mentality, the desire to accomplish something and progress becomes a priority in the minds of many, pushing them to seek personal accomplishment through difficulty during their leisure time. There are many games that use difficulty well, and many whose use is… controversial, to say the least. This essay will focus mostly on Dark Souls, Hollow Knight, Celeste, Pogostuck, and Don’t Starve