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Can a game be too hard? My latest Slate column

Slate just published my latest video-game column — on the subject of “hard” games. As it begins:

Some video games are hard. Some are really hard. And some are so freakishly, spoon-bendingly difficult that they take 10 hours of solid play before you’ve even begun to master the basics. Whenever I slip one of these nasty little backbreakers into my game system, I usually discard them in frustration after a couple of hours and wonder: What’s the point? What adult has the time to master this stuff? Could it ever be worth it?

Recently, I’ve decided the answer is yes, even if you’re reduced to tears by a hellish game, it can be worth it to plug through. Why? For the same reason it’s often worth struggling through many other pieces of art or entertainment that we consider “difficult.” Anyone who’s slogged through the experimental swamp of Ulysses knows that it seems like a pointless chore at first. But if you’re patient, the literary payoff is powerful—er, so I’ve been told—perhaps all the more so because you’ve worked hard for it.

You can read the rest of it free over at Slate! And, as always, if you write any comments here, feel free to cut and paste ‘em over at Slate’s discussion board, The Fray, where intelligent comment is always welcome.

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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