"Nintendo Hard"

by Thomas Brady in


I don't know about you, but one major facet of my cognition until about, oh, say the age of 20, 25 maybe, was the conspiracy theory.

Transient

Unseen forces pooling their resources and efforts to thwart me were the most obvious, and therefore best explanation for so, so many frustrating parts of my youth.

The craziest thing, though, is when you find out your instincts were right.

I submit to you, dear reader, the following TV Tropes article entitled "Nintendo Hard." (hat tip to The Tech Block for that link).

As a young man of about 11, I vividly remember sussing out that the programmers who produced much of Nintendo's content intentionally made the games nearly impossible to finish—"conquer" in the parlance of the time—in order to make them last longer.

As an older, obviously wiser man of 20-ish, I decided that my logic was flawed. Surely if you finished the game faster you would rush out to buy a new one sooner, and therefore give Nintendo more money. Therefore, my childish paranoia of mean game developers was just that.

According to that article, I was right. The first time. Sure, you might not be as quick to go out and buy a new game if the current game you were playing took longer to complete. However, the more investment you made in that game before completing it, the greater your perceived success, the more dopamine discharged into your pre-pubescent nervous system, the more hooked you became, the more likely you were to go out and buy another game or two.

It was a bet on the long tail.

And those bastards knew what they were doing. Grab any male between 30 and 45 and say, "but our princess is in another castle" and look for eye-twitching and phantom thumb movements. Ask him to mime entering the Konami Code.

UPDATE: It's in the zeitgeist today. Just got this amazing Pac-Man-as-Kafka-story SMBC comic link from a co-worker.