Video Games That Subtly Trick You Into Having Fun

Most individuals don't enjoy endlessly beating their head against a wall to try to finish an especially difficult video game. Developers know people play games to have fun, so to make sure players are happy and engaged, they often rely on subtle tricks that help keep the good times flowing. 

Tons of video games fudge the numbers a little to make the player feel more capable, and if done correctly, the tweaks should be utterly imperceptible. You could easily beat Bioshock multiple times without ever picking up on the fact that every single enemy misses the first shot they take. 

While these techniques do cause some controversy in the gaming community, they're actually implemented with the player's interest in mind. Some of the best games of all time employ the gaming equivalent of a magician's sleight of hand, and the results seem to speak for themselves. 


  • Few things in video games are more thrilling than a near-death experience. When health starts running low, players know it's time to step their game up, as one wrong move means having to attempt a particularly hard sequence yet again. 

    Games like Assassin's Creed and Doom understand the allure of this sensation, and capitalize on it by giving the final chunk of their health bars a little added value. 

    In both games, the last 10% of the player's health bar actually represents the final 15% of their health. This helps promote heart-pounding moments where the player is barely able to stay alive while under heavy fire.

    This trick doesn't actually give the player any extra health. It's more like setting a clock five minutes fast so it feels as though there's less time left in the day. 

  • 'Sugeon Simulator' Hides Interactive Secrets To Encourage Curiosity

    Surgeon Simulator loves when players mess around. However, when you're fighting against the game's difficult control scheme, it can be hard to find the motivation to experiment. 

    To encourage curiosity, the developers of Surgeon Simulator hid secrets in the main menu of the game, some of which lead to special secret levels. By giving players space to explore in the low-pressure environment of a doctor's office, they may feel more willing to goof off and have fun during the high-pressure surgeries.

    After all, what's more fun than using a surgical laser as a lightsaber in the middle of a heart transplant?

  • 'Serious Sam' Gives Bullets Variable Sizes So They Don't Get Stuck

    'Serious Sam' Gives Bullets Variable Sizes So They Don't Get Stuck
    Photo: user uploaded image

    Generally speaking, the bullets in Serious Sam are about 1mm thick. This may seem like a needlessly granular statistic, but it becomes important once bullets start flying in an environment that's loaded with walls, buildings, and other pieces of obstructive geometry.  

    To stop players from shooting into walls while aiming around cover, the devs made the bullets 0mm thick (that is to say, non-existent) when they're unleashed in certain parts of the game's world. This prevents bullets from getting stuck in walls, and lets the player feel like the master marksman they're supposed to be. 

  • Many Games Use Thumbstick Correction So The Player Doesn't Get Stuck

    Imagine playing a high-octane, precision action game like Dark Souls on an old-fashioned joystick. It just doesn't work. 

    It took video games decades to come up with the ergonomic analog stick we've all grown accustomed to. Even so, they're still far from perfect, and it's surprisingly hard to precisely maneuver a character with a current-gen analog stick. 

    To keep players from hurling their controllers in frustration, many developers now rely on a process known as thumbstick correction. This advanced system detects when a player is about to run into an object, such as a wall, then navigates them around it, regardless of the exact direction the stick is pointed.

    When done well, thumbstick correction is nearly undetectable, which is why many players never notice it until a developer points it out.

  • In 'Bioshock,' Your Enemy's First Shot Always Misses
    Photo: Irrational Games

    To create a thrilling atmosphere, Bioshock relies on spooky locales and a whole lot of jump scares. However, none of these eerie additions lead to the unexpected death of the player.

    Developers know no one likes to be killed by enemies they never saw coming, so they made sure the first bullet a splicer shoots always misses its mark. These polite warning shots give players enough time to properly orient themselves for battle.

    While this design choice makes things easier, it doesn't totally eliminate the chance of a surprise attack. Enemies with melee weapons attack normally, and occasionally rush the player from blind spots with little warning, sans their frantic footsteps.

  • In 'Half Life 2,' Zombies Won't Jump At You If You Can't See Them
    Photo: Valve

    The fast zombies in Half Life 2 may not be the smartest creatures around, but their AI is actually pretty sophisticated. To stop them from overwhelming the player (and from looking stupid), they're programed to wander around aimlessly whenever Gordon Freeman loses sight of them.

    This gives people time to focus on a few immediate enemies while simultaneously managing ammunition and health. It also prevents players from feeling cheated, as they're never killed by zombies they didn't see coming.

    In addition to keeping things fair, the zombies' meandering stops them from feeling predictable, as they can come at the player from a variety of different angles.