Phew....so glad that weeks over. Now to business!
A growing trend that's been in development for several years is the one of easy games. Originally, a lot of games were difficult. Anyone who has slaved away at any Megaman title can attest to the amount of brutal difficulty those games often presented. Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis title often fielded difficult or flat out brutal difficulties. I myself have memories of myriad attempts to defeat final bosses, only to run out of lives, use my last continue, and be forced to start the whole level again.
But you know what? I didn't mind. Because as soon as I finally beat that level/boss/stage/fight, there was a deep sense of satisfaction. You actually felt like you'd accomplished something. Time, effort and skill paid off.
Unfortionatly, a modern trend seems to be that the gamer should need to exert the least amount of effort possible in order to achieve victory. Gone are the days of massive combos, memorized patterns and insidiously tricky boss battles. For a majority of the industry, simple easy game types seem to be the rigor de force. Now, I know there are some people out there who need those easier difficulties, and I'm not saying the game should be past your enjoyment. But thats what the EASY difficulty is for. Nowadays, what was once easy either doesn't exist, or is a simple follow of points A to B. Games have gotten so simple that I tend to crank the difficulty up to maximum before even playing, simply on the knowledge that the game won't provide any challenge for me otherwise.
Too may games these days come with regenerating health bars (I saw a brawler in which if the character was out of combat for more then three seconds, ALL health regenerated), numerous medipacks, bosses that practically scream "WEAK POINT HERE" while pointing at it, and other, simpler systems.
I will acknowledge that other people would like to play the game, but thats what the easy diffculty is for. When developers dumb down the game to make "Normal" into "easy" so the easty crowd isn't unhappy that their skill is questioned, it really just ends up insulting the dedicated players who trump the game in less then 3 hours on the hardest difficulty.
Of course, the other half of the coin is the people who want victory with no effort. Once in an online strategy game, the opposing player had hacked the game, allowing him to toss a nuclear bomb and an airstrike at me in the first minute (which normally cannot happen untill the end of the game). When accused of hacking, his reply was "So what? I won."
Perhaps it isn't a question of skill, but a lack of real desire of some gamers to work for their victory.