“This game is just unfair! I’m not even sure you can get past this part.”
“What? That bit was easy! There’s no challenge in this game at all.”
Challenge is a tricky term to discuss in video games. We probably all recognise exchanges like the one above, which demonstrate the relative subjectivity of the matter. Balance and difficulty present a complex riddle for game designers.
One of the important factors involved is the “punishment” for failure. Usually the player character will die and be sent back to the last checkpoint. The player then has to replay up to where they were originally.
It’s tempting to say no one likes doing that, but that would be ignoring the fondness for ultra-difficult NES era games and the slightly-more-than-cult following of Demon’s Souls.
But most have probably seen the human reaction when someone watching a game being played loses interest as soon as the player dies and is reset to an earlier position, like you rewound a few minutes of a film they were watching.