The *shocking* truth about Options: You don't have to turn them on!
- May 2, 2019
Jess Gates is a game designer with a huge passion for accessibility. They have supported people with disabilities in accommodation and community settings, and run camps and activity programs for young people and families experiencing disadvantage. Jess enjoys creating games about ethical and social issues, and enabling creators of games, things and spaces to actively and intentionally include all kinds of people.
So, apparently there’s been some discourse missed lately around the concept of Options and what they will do to our gaming experience.
Now let’s be clear. When Options are mentioned here, I’m talking about everything from volume sliders to colour pickers, from resolution to whether the mini-map is displayed, from font size to auto-aim. I’m talking about things which can be altered within a game by the player, usually with the intent of making the game more suitable for their needs or desires.
And when people use some specific types of Options, other people get quite outraged. They feel like their challenge experience is lessened, because someone else used Options to change what the experience was like for them.
People like a challenge, and I get that. That feeling of being pushed to your limits, and finally finding a way through the tough, exhausting grit. It’s empowering, and strengthening, and prideful. But these Options aren’t about removing that. They’re about customising the challenge so it remains a challenge and not a permanent, persistent, joy-sucking, game-ending roadblock. It’s about allowing players to access and engage with the mechanics, gameplay, story and world, at whatever their challenge level is.
My version of a “critical difficulty” level is probably what many folks equate to an “easy” level. We can both experience the same level of challenge even if the difficulty levels are called something different. We’re both having the play experience of overcoming significant obstacles. My success using the Options to change gameplay elements and values so they better suit my challenge level doesn’t nullify or lessen your achievements. We all experience our games, our events, our lives differently. Your experiences are still valid. Your gaming achievements are still valid. Just as mine are.
And, if adding in some options to slow down attacks, allow for auto-acceleration, and skip quick-time-events means that somebody else can actually be able to engage with the game so they can have their play experience of challenge, too, then how the fudge is that any of my business? Spoiler: it’s not. Surprisingly, someone else switching on an auto-assist doesn’t automatically switch it on for everyone else who’s playing that game. In actual fact, it only switches on auto-assist (or whatever the option is) for the one person who actually selected it. Shocking, isn’t it? Who’d have thunk it!
But, in getting serious here, options are options for a reason—you can choose to leave them the hell alone if you’re not wanting to use them. They won’t suddenly make your gameplay slower or less challenging or whatever for you unless you turn them on (in which case, they will function as they’re designed to). They allow more players to access and engage with the game—giving you more people to share your world, your passion, and your excitement with.
I reckon that’s a pretty damn good reason to have Options. But hey, if you’d still rather not play a game which has Options in it, that’s okay too—some games just aren’t for everyone.