“Accessibility has never and will never be a compromise to my vision” is one argument that has been spreading like wildfire across the internet gaming community in the past week.
This line was uttered by God of War director Cory Barlog in response to recent game journalists and gamers alike expressing their displeasure at the lack of an “Easy Mode” option for FromSoftware’s latest masterpiece, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.
If you don’t already know, FromSoftware is notorious for producing tough-as-nails video games such as Dark Souls and Bloodborne. Sekiro is the latest cult hit to have been birthed from the creative minds of Hidetaka Miyazaki and his team. And, as with their previous titles, Sekiro is no stranger to receiving flak for its lack of difficulty options restricting accessibility to the wider gaming community.
And, rather unfortunately, a lot of gamers (and some media) have little sense of what accessibility and difficulty mean, and that they do not always come in the same packaging.
Barlog’s poignant remark sparked somewhat of a furore among the internet. Other game developers have also stepped forward to voice their concerns regarding the notion that video games should always be accessible, and that they don’t ruin the overall experience of the game.
JP Kellam, formerly of Platinum Games, shared Barlog’s sentiments about accessibility not to be confused with difficulty with his analogy of Bayonetta, which he had worked on.
Rami Ismail of Vlambeer Games also reiterated this sentiment.
And to cap it off, Able Gamers COO Steve Spohn shared his two cents about why it’s important not to confuse oneself with accessibility and difficulty.
Spohn’s argument is actually quite valuable here, as he comes from the perspective of a handicapped gamer. More often than not, this does create a barrier to accessibility in games that many disabled gamers like Spohn would like to enjoy fully, but cannot.
A game such as Sekiro is one such title that falls flat on those accessibility options, and Spohn is advocating for developers like From to consider including more brackets of gamers to be able to enjoy their games on their terms.
However, typical gamers, especially those who have probably beaten Sekiro many times over, feel entitled to urge other gamers to “get good” at the game (in lay man’s terms, be better at the game by continuously playing it) in order to enjoy it, disability or no. This ugly side of the gaming community rearing its ugly head is, of course, not something that will sit well with devs and other gamers alike.
But of course, since the debate stemmed from gamers’ experience of Sekiro, perspectives on the argument have been twisted amid discussions. Barlog reminded us once more about his profound respect for From and the focus of his argument.
Which side of the argument are you on?
Marion has a serious RPG addiction. Sometimes it bleeds into real life; he forgets to sleep because he thinks he has a Witcher’s body clock. Forgive him in advance if he suddenly blurts out terms such as “Mind Flayer” and “Magic Missile”, because never once does he stop thinking about his next Dungeons & Dragons game.