‘God of War’ Director Explains Why Accessibility Is Not a Compromise

God of War” director Cory Barlog offered up his two cents in the ongoing difficulty and accessibility debate in video games on Sunday.

The heated debate of how accessible games should be to a wide audience is one that comes up time and time again, and this time around it was FromSoftware’s challenging “Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice” that started the discussion. FromSoftware had already developed a reputation for releasing notoriously difficult games with its “Dark Souls” series and “Bloodborne.”

Some developers and gamers feel that offering different accessibility or difficulty options or even a mode that just lets players minimally interact with the game is not in line with the original vision for the experience of the game. Barlog, though, stated that “Accessibility has never and will never be a compromise to my vision,” in a tweet Sunday.

Sony Santa Monica’s 2018 game “God of War” offers four different gameplay difficulty settings: Give Me A Story, Give Me A Balanced Experience, Give Me A Challenge, and Give Me God of War. Rather than “easy” or “hard,” these settings are titled for the experience that players want to have while enjoying “God of War.”

“To me, accessibility does not exist in contradistinction to anyones creative vision but rather it is an essential aspect of any experience you wish to be enjoyed by the greatest number of humans as possible,” Barlog wrote in a follow-up post.

Steve Spohn, the COO of AbleGamers, a charity which aims to improve “the lives of gamers with disabilities utilizing the power of videogames,” according to its Twitter page, has been speaking out on the topic on Twitter frequently, and explained that it’s not about difficulty or easy modes.

“Accessibility means options, not easy gameplay,” Spohn wrote in a tweet on Friday.

“In any game, whether it’s ‘Sekiro,’ ‘Dark Souls,’ or any other skill-based game, there should be options to allow your health to be modified, your enemies help to be modified, and the game speed adjusted,”Spohn continued. “This does not make the game easy. It allows people to make the game equal.”

As for “Sekiro,” the difficulty of the game was part of what made the experience more tedious at times than enjoyable, according to Variety’s review of the game. 

“…Miyazaki’s insistence on perching his finely-wrought combat systems on a sheer cliff-face of difficulty seems more and more indefensible with every masterpiece he cranks out,” according to the review. “Even as we admire his handiwork, it’s hard to shake the feeling that if he traded in some of his stubborn design cruelty for just a touch of empathy, it would be all the greater.”

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