Microsoft Calls For An End To ‘Git Gud’

Microsoft Calls For An End To ‘Git Gud’
Screenshot: Double Fine

Before the weekend, Microsoft’s Xbox Twitter account sent a surprisingly important tweet: “Beating the game on the lowest difficulty is still beating the game.” This was then followed up by Double Fine who added that completing Psychonauts 2 with the “invincibility toggle on” still counts as beating the game. Which is just about the most refreshing thing I’ve seen come out of gaming in forever.

It was probably about four years ago that one of gaming’s most tiresome, festering corners was at its peak. The “Git Gud” crowd furiously policed the internet, looking for any and all signs of gaming weakness, and swifty punished it with pile-ons and abhorrently personal abuse. As Dark Souls III was at its peak of popularity, and every other game was attempting to ride in FromSoftware’s wake, along came Cuphead, and we entered a perfect storm of gamer douchebaggery.

I experienced the frankly baffling force of this fury on plenty of occasions, but never more than when I published an article on jaunty Kotaku tribute site Rock Paper Shotgun. Calling for a button that allowed players to skip boss fights, this rather innocent suggestion that the whole of a game should be accessible to those who’d bought it was met with all manner of suggestions of how I should kill myself, how I was proof of the demise of games journalism, and of course how I must “git gud.” In other words, it was a coordinated torrent of panic from scared little boys whose only source of pride was being threatened by my suggestion.

It’s quite extraordinary that just four years later I’m reading Xbox shooting down this attitude that Nightmare Difficulty is the only acceptable way to play, finally (and so very belatedly) taking a stand against Git Gud attitudes that poison this hobby. It’s even better to see individual developers joining in, taking the same stand. While to you or I it may seem completely innocuous to read Double Fine saying completing Psychonauts 2 with what’s essentially a “cheat” switched on still counts as completing the game, it’s really hard to convey just how contentious and controversial a position this is out there on the internet.

They continue, mocking the previously louder, more prevalent attitude. “‘uh, excuse me I beat Sword Guy Serious Time on a no hit hard mode and if didn’t do that I don’t respect you. and like, can you even comment on things if you’re not diamond six rank in shooty mcBlam? I don’t think so.’” they tease, concluding, “cool bud. you’re soooo cool!” Then slightly more sensibly spell it out,

“All people should be able to enjoy games. All ages, all possible needs. It’s an ongoing and important process for our industry and a challenge we need to met. [sic]

“End of the day? We want you to have fun, to laugh, to experience a story that affects you. On whatever terms you want.”

Amen. I mean, it’d have been nice to hear these voices half a decade ago, but thank goodness we’re hearing them now.

Of course, both sets of tweets have been met with all manner of fury. “Going to school while sleeping through classes is still going to school,” quote-tweets one poster, failing to understand the difference between participating differently, and not participating at all. A podcast with 6 followers explains for us, “Whether they’re played on a screen or in real life, games are largely about bettering yourself or being a part of a team,” which is the most impressively blinkered perspective to not be able to see outside of. Others obviously opt for the more nuanced position of using homophobic slurs, but my favourite is the guy who begins, “Tangibly and provably false,” before telling game developers how games are developed.

Any objection to the notion that completing games by any means is acceptable can only be rooted in a desire to exclude others. Just a picosecond of thought gets any reasonable human being to the point of recognising that not all people playing games might be as able-bodied as they are. Additional thinking time might see others reaching conclusions like, “How someone else plays this single-player game in their own house cannot have any impact whatsoever on my experience,” and how it would be deranged to think otherwise.

The only reason for gatekeeping gaming via this intransigent attitude toward difficulty is to protect the most fragile of egos, that are only propped up by the belief that gaming skill affords the individual superiority over others. The lack of perspicacity to realise this, while so feverishly raging about it in public, is utterly peculiar.

There’s still work to be done, of course. It depresses me that both Xbox and Double Fine chose to use the term “beat the game” rather than “complete” or “finish” it. Whenever I read or hear someone saying how they “beat the game,” I can’t help but imagine their finishing watching a subtitled philosophical movie on Netflix and then thrusting their arms in the air, bellowing to all around how they “BEAT THE FILM!”

Anyhow, the good news is Psychonauts 2 will come with an option to make yourself invincible, in case you reach a level or bossfight that proves too tricky for you to get past. And extraordinarily, for everyone else who doesn’t believe it has any right to exist, they can just… not use it!


  • So…. if you are playing a multiplayer game, then other people have to let you shoot them? Like, GetGud mostly stems from people complaining when they die in multiplayer games.

    And then there is the fact that you do need to get better at the game to beat it on harder difficulty levels. It’s not gatekeeping. Its having pride in your accomplishments. You can say you beat the game on easy, sure, but did you have the same experience as someone who bet it on a higher difficulty? No. Hands down, no. So saying it’s the SAME as beating it on a higher difficulty as it is on the lower one, which this whole thing seems to be implying is, to me, factually wrong.

    And then they go and say beating the game why you can’t die is ok… that’s a bit far fetched, even if it’s the dev saying it. Even if they’re only talking about single-player games, to say removing all concepts of challenge from the game is ok, to me, seems a bit fucked. Where the reason to play if you are just cheesing everything cos you can’t die? I don’t know.

    • Why does it matter so much to you how other people glean enjoyment from a game?

      Do you really think anyone other than neck beards care for half a second if others finished a game on a certain difficulty?

      I get it. You’ve spent countless hours “gitting gud” so you can finish a game. You feel at a loss if others can get similar enjoyment without the effort.

      Sort of like US boomers not wanting to rid the current generation of student debts, because “they had to suffer through it”.

    • “Its having pride in your accomplishments.”

      That’s right. ‘Your’ accomplishments. If, to feel good about your accomplishments you need to belittle what other people have done, you need to have a good, hard look at yourself.

      Clearly you enjoy the challenge of games. That’s great, but doesn’t mean that others, who play the game a different reason – story, amazing visuals, banging tunes etc – don’t have an equally valid sense of enjoyment and achievement. Equally, for whatever reason, that lower difficulty level may represent a challenge to them. How any of that impacts your sense of achievement? Well, it doesn’t, does it. Or at least it shouldn’t, but somehow your ego can’t comprehend that.

      Generally I’ll play games somewhere between ‘normal’ and what ever they call the hardest difficulty, because I enjoy it and I can, but that doesn’t lessen the experience of anyone who plays it on an easier setting. They’ve invested their time and their attention to experience their game their way. To suggest that their experience is somehow inferior to mine is purely toxic – and that includes people who are streaming the game.

      Thanks for outing yourself as part of the problem. Don’t let the door hit you in the arse on the way out.

    • The point is that different people want to enjoy things differently and should be enabled to do so, and people so insecure that they feel their gaming acheivements are threatened by that should grow up.

      I’ve played games my whole life, i get the sense of pride associated with finishing something that was genuinely difficult.

      I also now have a full suite of adult responsibilities and now play many games on a difficulty lower than my skill level because i don’t have time to spend 2 hours stuck on one boss. I recently played theough Ori and the Will of the Wisps on low difficulty and it was fantastic.

      I would have prefered to play it on a harder difficulty and mastered it but i just dont have time. Given that i enjoyed it still,isn’t it more important that people who are time poor, disabled or whatever else can still play it?

  • There is a difference between ‘git gud’ and videogame journalists being unable to get past a tutorial. That aside, there is a lot of saltiness to unpack here, looking at the language and expressions used in this piece. The author’s seething is very much palpable.

    “It depresses me that … “beat the game” rather than “complete” or “finish” it. Whenever I read or hear someone saying how they “beat the game,” I can’t help but imagine …. they “BEAT THE FILM!””

    Now, hear me out here because this is going to blow your mind, but consider this. So, you know how people ‘beat’ a challenge, right? Now hypothetically, what if people saw videogames as challenges to overcome, be it puzzles, combat, etc, you see where I’m going with this?

    Now, if they 100% the game, wouldn’t that mean they beat the challenge and therefore beat the game? MINDBLOWING!!!!!

    Why get so triggered over how people ‘inappropriately’ describe beating a game? Film is a passive medium, a videogame is an active medium in which player participation would be crucial to beating it.

      • His bruised and fragile masculinity, the same kind he apparently is opposing, is very evident here.

        “A podcast with 6 followers explains for us… ”

        Since when did a follower count start becoming so important? Talk about online dick-measuring, and from the author himself no less. It’s difficult to understand the author’s point when it’s steeped in fragile masculinity and ego.

        • If anyone is bruised and fragile mate, it’s you. Imagine being so narcissistic and arrogant you think your opinion holds any merit at all. It’s this sort of toxic twelvie attitude that is being referenced by the author. If you had a modicum of intelligence and or any amount of self awareness you would realize all you are doing is proving the author’s point. Now. Go outside and play child.

  • But then people might not know how great I am and validate my accomplishments, leaving me to my insecurities and self-doubt. I’m not sure I can get on board with the notion that video games can be enjoyed by everyone in their own way and that people’s experiences might somehow differ from my own.

  • My personal favourite is when you ‘beat’ the game on a lower difficulty and then it tells you to go beat the harder ones to see the true ending. (Or any ending at all in some cases)

    • Castlevania 64, is that you? Where they flat out refused to let you play the other half of the game until you changed the difficulty, then you had to start from scratch? Anyone who designs a game like that, especially in current era, needs a boot to the arse.

      As for difficulty in general, I can understand both angles. Difficulty should have an objective cap in there somewhere so developers and players can judge playtime (if your 120 hour JRPG becomes a 60 hour one with a difficulty change there’s a problem). At the same time you don’t want the game to be totally inaccessible to people who might not be totally great with the medium (especially with young kids potentially playing the game). When entire game mechanics start being screwed with over these concerns and it changes core gameplay substantially across all difficulties then it’s a problem. At that point the developers need to realise that their target audience can’t be everyone on the planet.

  • Assuming the combat in the sequel is gonna be similar to the first game, I don’t think it takes too much away from Psychonauts to add that kind of mode. The combat was never that game’s strong point. Most of the game’s challenge came from solving the various environment puzzles (and that included most of the boss fights).

    ” It depresses me that both Xbox and Double Fine chose to use the term “beat the game” rather than “complete” or “finish” it. ”

    THIS, however, is a dumb take. There is a difference between beating a game, and completing or finishing a game. Beating a game implies you reached the end, beat the final boss, saw the end credits. Completing a game on the other hand, implies you’ve hit 100% – you’ve found all of the collectable doodads, you’ve finished all the optional areas, you’ve taken down that super tough optional boss, you have achieved all of the trophies or achievements. If you want to do that kind of stuff, you shouldn’t have your hand held. Those are optional for a reason, because they are not required to beat the game, but they are there for the players that have beaten it and want that extra challenge.

    This is why they chose to use the wording that they did. You can beat the game with invincibility on. But turning it on isn’t going to help you complete the game. Invincibility isn’t going to help you find all of the emotional baggage or psi cards or figments or whatever equivalent of those the sequel is going to have.

    • It’s not even really a take, though, it’s more just a sidenote in the middle of a broader missive about the pointlessness of people associating personal pride to finishing games under arbitrary circumstances.

      • The problem with that is that pride in anything is pointless and arbitrary by those same metrics. That pride in your job promotion? Pointless, because those promotions are often made on pointless arbitrary grounds by managers who don’t know the day of the week. There’s so much that it applies that you may as well have a headfirst dive into nihilism.

        • That’s a complete strawman. Job promotions make a marked difference to your ability to buy a house, live a more comfortable life etc. Getting 100% on Bloodborne vs 50% doesn’t.

          • No it’s not, I’m specifically referring to the emotion of pride and that any event that results in that emotion can be entirely arbitrary and meaningless in and of itself if your frame it as such. This article wants to attack gamers for having pride in difficulty based accomplishments, but there’s many people who feel pride for a job position or achievement in life they didn’t earn off of their own back. If the argument is “you shouldn’t feel proud of what your competence in an area achieved” then no one should feel proud of that job promotion either whether it was earned or otherwise. The core logic doesn’t magically change because of a step away from video games when pride in your ability to execute something competently exists in all ends of life, not just video games. What people take pride in doing ultimately isn’t for anyone else to decide.

          • Success, and any pride or value associated with that success, is not for you or anyone else to define for others. Period.

            Some people see buying a house as being literally chained to the earth where it resides for the rest of their lives.

            That personally doesn’t seem like success to me, but then I’m not out here telling others which ‘success’ really matters to THEM according to nothing but my own personal criteria.

      • I get that, but it’s clear why they chose to say “beat the game” rather than “complete the game”. It’s because you can “beat” the game with invincibility turned on, but you can’t “complete” it. I don’t see a need to complain about that wording.

  • The replies to that Double Fine tweet are a bit depressing. There’s all these people telling a guy with cerebral palsy that he just needs to practice more. Or that while colour blindness accessibility options are good, difficulty ones are not.

  • This is fairly consistent with Tims thinking and background.
    Back when he was with LucasArts, they had the design philosphy that games had to be fun, were to encourage having fun, and thus recognised that dying was not ‘fun’.
    Effectively you were being punished for thinking outside of boundaries, which was the very element they wanted to promote.
    So games such as Grim Fandango, Full Throttle and Day of the Tentacle reduced or completely removed the penalty of death from their games. And they were *fun*

    For me, I’m too old to subject myself to masochistic game play.
    If it’s going to dick me around, it gets uninstalled, so it’s nice to see this more wholesome attitude come back into fashion.

    On a different note, complaining about the immaturity of the gaming population, and then having passive aggressive sideswipes like this ” is to protect the most fragile of egos”, is really just highlighting a pot/kettle situation.
    There’s plenty of evidence to support the psychological phenomena of confirmation bias, which is what the author describes, albeit a more feral example.
    Is it a good thing ? No, but it’s a well documented bug in our mental code, and shouldn’t really be a surprise.

  • Mythic raiding in WoW is too hard for me, therefore instead of getting better i demand Blizzard must give me a god mode while i raid and mail me all my best in slot gear. I should be able to play the game on my terms!

    • The only hard part about mythic raiding is that Blizzard isn’t paying you a manager’s salary for leading around 19 other morons and having them follow instructions correctly. Take away that and the difficulty drops out of it, especially compared to FFXIV which only has 8 people to worry about.

      • Yeah I quit trying to ‘properly’ raid in WoW years ago, and it was 100% because of other players.

        There’s only so much nonsense you can take from people who die in fire or some shit as they blame anyone but themselves for mistakes.

        • WoW Raiding Rule #1: do not stand in the black* goo.**

          * Also red, green, blue, orange.

          ** unless I tell you to.

  • Came for the shrill anger at someone not validating toxic gamer shit. Was not disappointed.

    Bonus points for “by calling out insecure boys, you’re actually the real cripplingly insecure toxic masculinity man” front and centre.

  • Such a refreshing take. Most adults I have met play games to have fun and socialize especially relishing sledging each other light heartedly when someone dies or does something silly. We often mute chat of other players to avoid the kids rheee about whatever nonsense they are on about. But bottom line git gud is a douchey thing to say. And completing any game on the hardest difficulty means absolutely nothing to anybody else but you….

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