Should all video games instantly unlock all their levels?

Short opinion of an answer: no.  Longer opinion of an answer:

People have been talking about this lately since the latest piece of smelly garbage in the Call of Duty series will allow you to play any of its missions at any point without actually reaching them in the context of the game’s story.  Some people argue that they only care about the gameplay as opposed to the story while others insist that they want the option to skip levels that are frustrating or too difficult.

These people will then argue that unlocking all levels will not inhibit or alter the player experience of the people who insist on the game keeping the gates shut until they bust through.  The problem is, it does; it does for me anyway.  One of the reasons I play video games, in addition to art design, gameplay, and story, is the element of challenge.  I am specifically looking to pass a test that someone else has created.  If I am the only one putting up the barriers to progress, it removes much of that feeling of validation.  It may sound weird, but there is a competitive element to single player experiences.  You’re facing off against the developer.

Without this adversarial element I feel foolish.  I’m the man who builds hurdles while everyone else is jogging by me.  I prefer to actually surmount obstacles placed by others because it provides escapism from real-life obstacles placed by others that I can’t possibly hope to actually overcome.

I would argue that games instantly unlocking levels may be appropriate some of the time (multiplayer experiences, games designed to be relaxing, and puzzle games come to mind), but please don’t insist that all games should do it because you don’t like the level of difficulty the developer chose.  There’s a reason many games offer difficulty settings as opposed to level skipping.  If this change does happen in the industry at large, it will significantly decrease how exciting at least one person finds those games.

beat the Bioshock games.  I beat Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath.  I beat Alan Wake.  I don’t really want to have to exchange that particular B-word for ‘bought’.  It rings pretty hollow in comparison.

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