Thursday, November 6, 2014

Dealing With Failure in Games

We've all been there at one point when playing video games. We've been at points where we thought we had this task in the bag and we were sure that we were going to advance to the next part of a level, but then we get pulled back down by the smallest and most insignificant of details in a level. We are led to ask ourselves "Now why did that happen? I thought I pushed the right buttons! I thought I timed my jump right! Why didn't my weapon do anything at that point?"

One thing I have noticed about the general gaming experiences of people is that people are so willing to talk about all of the successful moments that they have had, but in some cases, they are not nearly as willing to talk about all the moments where they consistently failed and stunk up the joint. I have had that feeling plenty of times in gaming. I would clear one level with ease, but then on the very next level I would stink up the joint and die around 5 times in a row.

In particular it isn't so flattering when we see that dreaded "Game Over" screen in games. The confirmation of our consistent failures, Game Over basically sends gamers the message of "Hey, you need to keep practicing to get better! If you work at it hard enough, you won't need to see me, Mr. Game Over, so often!" Sadly, it is very easy these days for gamers to get caught up in the emotions that are packed within gaming experiences. I have heard many stories of gamers that got so frustrated they either threw their controllers out the window, or worse, they threw out their entire consoles. This is what we classify as "Rage Mode".

The Storymaker video game console - It was a failure because it didn't even see the light of day.

Thankfully, I have never been in Rage Mode, and definitely never to the extent of throwing things out the window. In the big picture video games are just challenging toys that we play with to pass the time, and we admire the designs of these games for what they are artistically, but they are nothing more than that. Most gamers can deal with failing at a video game, some handle it fairly well, and others definitely fall under the category of Rage Mode.

How do we deal with failure when playing video games? Well, for starters, we never know when those moments of losing will come, so we can't predict when we will have to deal with failure. Whenever those moments do arrive, it is important for us as gamers to take a step back and take in these moments of failure as learning experiences. If we don't learn from our mistakes, then we will most likely continue to repeat those same mistakes. If we don't try to find other ways past an obstacle, then that obstacle will still be there staring us down.

Gotta love the straight-forward humor of T-shirts these days!

One part of a gamer's success in playing is that he or she is willing to learn from failing. Sometimes you need to fail, and even fail royally, in order to get into a position of success. This is true in the case of playing video games because you are always facing different sets of tasks to complete, and some of them will fly over your head and leave you scratching your head. Some of my most favorite video games that I have played involved me failing many times at certain points. These games became my favorite games partially because of how challenging they were and how they kept motivating me through my failures to keep going and eventually succeed.

Now one question that may pop up would be "I want to keep playing, but I'm doing so terrible right now in this level! What do I do? Should I take a break now?"

I have the belief that sometimes all gamers really need to get by their darkest moments of failure would be to just take a break. Take a 5 or 10 minute break to catch your breath and loosen up again because sometimes when we are in the heat of gameplay and we get super focused on trying to beat this one part of a level, we tend to get really stiff with our gaming habits and keep performing the same action just out of repetition. We will do something one time, fail at it, and then go back to doing that same thing again and again. We think that what we're doing is what will get us to our destination in the game, but when we take a break and think about it, we realize that our original actions weren't always the best options.

This pretty much says it all, huh? *looks at Minecraft users*
One thing I could point out about my gaming habits would be that I have experienced more failures in 3D games than in 2D games. I find it funny because I surround myself with 3D games, but all the same, it is the 3D style of play that gives me more trouble because there are more things for me to deal with in 3D gaming environments. Gaming worlds in 3D are much more spacious and they require more thinking on the player's part to maneuver through in levels. 2D gaming worlds are challenging, don't get me wrong, but 2D worlds literally lack that extra dimension that gamers have to account for. You can get by more easily with failure in 2D games than in 3D games, but really, it all comes to the preference of gamers.

Challenge To The Raders:
If you'd like to comment on this article, feel free to share your own memorable moments of failure in video games. What did you experience in your gaming failures? How did you deal with it? How differently did you play games after you failed? 

Challenge (If accepted) - +1 in extra content for the Gaming Journalist Gazette

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