I don't understand this concept of "being barred" from progressing in a game, unless you've got a disability, there's nothing stopping you from getting better at a game or beating a tough boss, especially since the game isn't getting any easier after.
One of the common things I hear is that “Well, games are the only medium that prevent player progress. Books and movies don’t do that.” but there’s two issues:
a) Games aren’t books or movies.
People who unironically try to say one should be like the other are downplaying the uniqueness of those mediums and just show that they don’t appreciate it. Games are unique because they require active involvement from the participant; board games, card games, sports, the newspaper Sudoku, etc may have different methods of engaging the player but it’s still working under the same end goal of getting you involved.
John Walker from RPS tried drawing the comparison to wanting to add in the option to skip gameplay to people who want a burger but take off some of the toppings, the tomato. But that’s the problem:
Gameplay is not inconsequential. It’s not added fluff that can be easily removed. It’s literally in the name of the medium.
Gameplay isn’t the topping, it’s the goddamn meat itself! It’s because of nonsense like this why games journalists get laughed at on a daily basis: they clearly show they don’t appreciate the medium but are utterly stunned when there’s so much blowback from gamers.
Gamers balk at dumb reasons like this because regardless of your age, your skill at games, platform of choice: the reason people drop $60 on a game is because they want to play it. Not to just look at pretty pictures and marvel at the scenery, which are the toppings on the burger.
b) Just because anyone can technically partake in passive activities like watching doesn’t mean that they’ll actually understand it or appreciate the creator’s intent.
Take David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive. I didn’t like the movie, in fact, I think I can honestly say that I hated it and thought it was a huge waste of time. But other people loved it so much that it’s gotten lots of awards and nominations and praise from film buffs and critics. Does this mean David Lynch should make his movies more straightforward for simpletons like me? No. If it was his vision to make Mulholland Drive a clusterfuck mishmash, then that’s fine. I may not like it, but other people clearly do, so instead of me whining for it to fit my tastes, I’ll just go watch Airplane for the 89798234759384th time since it’s a better movie.
There isn’t anything wrong with a game requiring more from the player to proceed because not every game needs to be “accessible”. Not every movie is “accessible”, not every book is an “easy read”: some things require more from the participant and that’s perfectly fine. Games don’t have to be designed for every person in mind and I will always prefer products with a specific niche in mind than ones made with the nebulous and vague goal of “mass appeal”.
These are also the same kinds of people that really push the “games are art” rhetoric, which makes their complaints ironic, because if they were truly serious about that then they’d realize that the value of art is something that varies heavily from person to person. People are unique and have their own tastes, ergo it would only make sense for art to exist to cater to that taste and that taste exclusively.
If game journos had any sense, they’d realize this but they don’t so they get laughed at 24/7 by everyone.