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Pickle Me This

January 28, 2009

Difficulty is artistically desirable

“Gaming is a much more resistant, frustrating medium than its cultural competitors. Older media have largely abandoned the idea that difficulty is a virtue; if I had to name one high-cultural notion that had died in my adult lifetime, it would be the idea that difficulty is artistically desirable. It’s a bit of an irony that difficulty thrives in the newest medium of all – and it’s not by accident, either. One of the most common complaints regular gamers make in reviewing new offerings is that they are too easy. (It would be nice if a little bit of that leaked over into the book world.)” –John Lanchester, “Is it Art?”

2 thoughts on “Difficulty is artistically desirable”

  1. Rachel Power says:

    Hmmm, that’s really interesting. I think literature definitely disproves the theory. I mean look at the success of books like David Mitchell’s ‘Cloud Atlas’, which is a pretty challenging read. Or have I just proved what a wimp I am?!

  2. Kerry says:

    You’re right that some difficult fiction takes off, but doesn’t popular appeal generally =easy? And does it really have to, I wonder? Particularly as games don’t. The vast majority of readers don’t really see pushing themselves as a worthwhile endeavour. And after a long day at work etc., I’d often put myself in that catagory. I’m not sure this something necessarily to be rectified, but this quote did put it in a context I’d never considered.

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