If you interact with video games beyond your basic like "Candy Crush" or "FIFA," you’ve probably heard of the "Dark Souls" series.
Consisting of six games—three in the main series, one spiritual prequel and two semi-spin-offs with many of the core elements still intact—the series is infamous for its difficulty. Horrendous monsters beat players into a fine, pixelated paste with the words “You Died” insultingly plastered on the screen.
Of course, this means that as the long-awaited "Elden Ring"—a spin-off touted as the return of the messiah since rumors of its existence first sprang up—is finally making its way onto the scene, things have been getting polarizing.
On one hand, those who have played the games are absolute zealots of the series. They see the challenge as a welcoming escape from an increasingly casual video game market. On the other hand are those who have never played the game, or abandoned it very soon after picking it up. While it’s not a hard-and-fast dichotomy, these are the general battle lines surrounding "Elden Ring," and its detractors have unleashed a real salvo of criticism.
Critics have taken up an age-old argument against the Dark Souls series: the franchise isn’t accessible. This seems like a solid criticism, but this veneer of concern is just a cheap exploitation of social justice to shroud lazy gamers' whiny critiques about game design.
The argument follows that the game is a product requiring payment for access. However, if you do not possess the inherent skill to beat the game, you can’t actually use the product, meaning that the implementation of something like an "easy mode" is necessary.
A number of issues plague this argument. First, the idea that succeeding in the game requires raw skill. Supposedly, the ability to complete the game is based on the player's inherent skills, meaning some simply have zero chance of ever advancing.
Yet, this clearly isn’t the case.
When I first tried out "Bloodborne" in 2015, I did not wade into it with skill. Quite the opposite, even—my character’s remains painted the Victorian cobblestones red.
Within that same month, I managed (with a lot of practice) to fight and beat some of the hardest bosses in the series. If my sheltered, incompetent self could get through the game, surely a grown adult could do the same.
But that’s not the only way this argument fails. Even if the game depended on ability, there is no reason why buying a product entitles you to the whole breadth of what that product is capable of. If you lost your legs and then tried to buy a pair of pants, the Old Navy employee has every right to give you weird looks when you start yelling about "accessibility." The human experience is diverse, and every product cannot cater to every individual circumstance.
Ok, so you don’t want to put in the time or effort necessary to conquer the challenge before you, but you still want to be rewarded? You can simply mod your way to a victory.
"Mods," or modifications, have been used to alter video games since the very beginning. There are plenty of mods available to dumb down the difficulty of the "Souls" games for absolutely free—free in every way except compromising the original vision of the work, that is.
Ultimately, the biggest problem of this entire debate is that cynical critics have taken up the mantle of "accessibility" for the good optics, not any real concern over expanding access to the disabled. It's a sickening display of self-righteousness, and it's all the more disheartening that critics have targeted such an amazing series of games for their own Machiavellian purposes.
But, at the end of the day, it's their loss. They will never understand how good it feels to put the controller down in victory as the credits roll after defeating the final boss, and to know how much struggle it took to get there.
All I have to say to them is “git gud.”
Haden DeVilbiss is a 19-year-old history and psychology sophomore from Lake Charles.