Joshua Rothman confirms what hardcore gamers have believed for a long time: difficult games are superior.
In the world of video games, difficulty can be a virtue in itself. A game like Angry Birds is just difficult enough to be diverting—and, as a result, only fit for “casual” gamers. Real gamers are like real art lovers. They demand extraordinary difficulty.
Are we talking about cultural sophistication, or are both just a carefully sculpted image for an exclusive club that not everyone is skilled enough to be a part of? I I've written on feminism as a gaming counterculture, and perhaps the rise of the austere, difficult puzzle game is another counterculture to watch. But let's be careful not to confuse difficulty with superiority; there are many other aesthetic merits to consider, and it's easy to substitute "difficulty" for "masculinity" or "heteronormativity" or "privilege."