Why There Are Hidden Objectives In Games?

I got a very interesting question about game design. One of you readers asked me:

Question:

I’m writing a term paper. I have been looking for this answer and I can’t really find the answer. Why do game software developers add “hidden things” (levels, rounds, and etc) to a game? My paper is (no laughing).. How game software developers are promoting hacking to the public. I am a gamer myself. All I’m hearing from my 11 year old cousin is “look at this cheat I found.” I know “cheats” have been around for decades but it has gone main stream. I was just curious you or a few others may know this answer.

Answer:
I think the main point of adding “hidden things” boils down to bringing extra challenge to those who want it. This is my opinion (and I’m sure there’s lots of game designers out there who can add more into my answer). I think hidden objectives are a good thing compared to some alternatives.

Think about the following example.

Imagine some game that’s really challenging. Imagine that it’s so difficult that most of the players can’t solve the first level. The game developers decide to lower the difficulty level by decreasing the number of enemies, and suddenly the game is boring for those hard core gamers that enjoyed it in the first place – it’s too easy for them. Now it’s okay for the masses, but there’s also a group of very unhappy gamers. Putting “easy”, “normal” and “tough” difficulty levels could be possible… but it might turn out quite dull when you have “less lives and ammo” in easier levels.

But then Joe Designer gets it. He decides that they will have certain difficulty level instead of “easy” or “tough”, and he puts extra challenge (hidden objectives) in the game. Now the game might be easy to solve in some parts, but there would be alternative routes (dangerous ones) that would be more challenging. There could also be additional items that are only given if certain requirements are met (for example: player would need to collect all the gold keys in the levels to get access to mine of the dwarves).

Hidden objectives can give extra incentive for players to try to beat levels. That’s one reason for having them. Other reasons might be about the story line (like reveal additional information about the reasons behind the historical conflict) or perhaps they could give hints (or aid) in the upcoming levels.