Easy games and hard games

Life is an easy game

As a player, I think of games in two general buckets.

  1. Easy games that are mostly player versus environment (PvE)

  2. Hard games that are mostly player versus player (PvP)

Of course there are more game types than this (like very hard PvE games like Dark Souls) but these two buckets account for 99% of my time playing games and the vast majority of content on Twitch.

Easy games are like World of Warcraft. While the primary thing you’ll do in WoW is fight, the experience of WoW is much more like going on a hike than fighting someone in a boxing match. Show up enough days and you’ll reach max level. Do it consistently enough and you’ll get the best equipment in the game.

Hard games are like League of Legends or any other esport title (e.g. Counterstrike, Hearthstone). To win, you have to perform at a level greater than your opponent. And after you beat that opponent, there’s a mountain of players even better than you to continue trying to beat.

I’ve gravitated towards hard games in my life. I competed in every hobby I picked up including video games. And continue to seek and enjoy the challenge of zero-sum contests.

But it occurred to me this morning that life is more like an easy game than a hard game. You don’t wake up every day and have to fight and best an equally skilled competitor to make progress. You make progress by showing up. Show up consistently and you get a chance—no guarantees, though—of reaching the best end-game content.

Unlike easy video games, life isn’t on rails. There aren’t quest givers that guide you through to the best stuff. When you die you don’t get to try again. So there’s a lot more variability in outcomes. But it’s a cozy thought to think of life as a play-through of an open-world easy game. Much better than a constant grind up some hard game ladder where you only win if your opponent loses.