Roosty replied that, since games were no longer 'for gamers' but instead a core piece of the living room's entertainment solution, "I think games have a obligation to the player to provide entertainment in the least frustrating way possible."
This really kind of pissed me off. Non-frustrating games? What about the challenge?
Here's my reply:
Roosty said: I think games have a obligation to the player to provide entertainment in the least frustrating way possible.
My first response was "oh, please..." but giving it a little thought I think you've hit upon the crux of the 'gameplay' issue we've struggled with since day one:
The fun/difficulty balance is hard to strike. It's harder now with casual gamers in the mix: they might not want or enjoy a strong challenge as much as an old twitch gamer would.
The harder a game gets the more fun it must be. Robotron is hard, but it's astonishingly good fun. New SMB is too easy, and whatever fun it offers is countered by increasing boredom.
Lives aren't the elemental concept here, instead we might better ask how the concept of 'lives' in a game affects the fun/difficulty curve. Lives in a shooter is like time in a racing game is like hitpoints in an RPG: You give the player a limit to work within and, if the game is fun enough to counter the frustration of the limit, the gameplay is considered balanced.