Tough Love: On Dark Souls’ Difficulty

One of the key psychological models behind human motivation is something called self-determination theory, which posits that for a person to persist and feel motivated by an activity, it has to satisfy three different needs: mastery, autonomy, and relatedness.
This is, of course, not conventional game design. Conventional game design eases players into an experience, gradually introducing new concepts and abilities before putting you in any real danger, rather than dropping you right into a world full of things that are trying to kill you as swiftly and horribly as possible and watching you get on with it.

Keza MacDonald, “You Died: The Dark Souls¬†Companion”