Learning From Failure

Learning From Failure
Hard-Earned Victories

Chris Plante | 21 Dec 2010 12:37
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It would be unfair to say Weidemann and Schmitz speak for the industry, or even their whole studio. Their comments represent simply one direction in which the medium is being pulled. As things stand, the result of frustration-free games' rise is less sinister than it is intellectually middling.

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"The danger of removing challenge from games is that, in the long run, I believe it will narrow the scope of game design. There's no reason to carefully lay out a series of jumps if the player is never allowed to fall," says Pratt.

"It's entirely possible that the game industry will flourish once we remove most challenge from games and everyone can get to the end and see what happens to the hero," he continues. "If games are moving towards interactive movies or virtual tourism, however, no matter how successful that direction might be, we should know that it's a trade-off. There are certain kinds of memorable, and sometimes beautiful, experiences we'll be giving up."

Super Meat Boy may not teach us heady life lessons, but it does edify a core value: Victory is hard-fought. It's a game for ludomasochists: people who take pleasure and find value in the difficulty of play.

In a way, aren't all humans ludomasochists? We like to accomplish goals. We enjoy the sense of progress. More than that, we like being rewarded for our efforts: A raise, a home, retirement. This is why most of us wake up in the morning, to do and to grow. The majority of videogames serve to create a fantasy in which we can achieve the otherwise unachievable with comparably minimal effort.

But at a certain point, what motivation is there to participate in the real world, where rewards are hard won? It's not wrong that we enjoy our escapism, but as games get better and better at exploiting our sense of progress and success, it will become increasingly important to remember the value of working for what you want.

Because in life, there are no arrows.

Chris Plante is a freelance pop culture writer living in New York City. Learn more about his life, career and haunted apartment at his website, ctplante.com.

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