Editor's Note: Frustration Nation

Frustration Nation

There's something satisfying about knowing that a game expects more of you than just your time - even if that leads to a few snapped controllers along the way.

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Never failed to complete a game so don't know what you mean.

Then you haven't been trying hard enough. :P Go pick up a copy of ET for the Atari or Ghosts and Goblins for the NES. If you finish either of those, be sure to record it and send the evidence to TwinGalaxies and collect your world record. :)

There's only been one game in recent memory that I've failed to beat (i.e. wanted to complete, but couldn't): Mega Man 9. Wily's Castle is just ridiculous.

This is such an odd issue. I look at what frustrates me the most about games, and I think the thing that leaps to mind is "Anything that detracts from it's quality of being a game." Things like inordinately hard control schemes to learn, grinds of various kinds, tedious to learn or overly particular tactics or actions by the player, these generally are the kinds of things that get me a bit pissed in game. This is a lot the reason I don't play fighting games, too much and many controls for quirky little moves.

Online games are a whole different ball game. Things that detract from the fun you ostensibly should be having usually come from other players, whether you're too finicky or they are, game glitches that take the game out of the game, exploiters, what have you, most of the frustrations in online games seem to come more from other players, not as much the game itself (though there can be plenty of those too).

Actually, I want to revise this. I think another big issue in causing frustration, is ego. Gaming was the source of such terms as 1337, fail, and numerous other arrogantly pronounced terms. I think competitiveness drives a lot of why we play, and a lot of frustrations surrounding it, and I think it goes back to ego ultimately. When you first went into an arcade, and saw the high score list, some people decided they wanted to top that list (often supplied by the makers of the games with pat scores for people to overcome, just to lure in the over competitive people). It became a culture based on ego, and competitiveness. Some amount of competitiveness is fine, but video games have gone far over the line into the realm of "shithead jocks" where people who are overly devoted to their chosen sport spend an inordinate amount of time and energy bashing the egos of people who are not as good...within the narrow aperture of gaming. This can be seen throughout gaming's culture, and the dialog that largely surrounds it. It's gotten too hip a stature, and people's egos are now crushed or standing upon their ability to play DOTA, or Counter Strike, or whatever it is. It's actually pretty ugly much of the time.

The Carrot says a lot of what I was going to say, but I feel I should put some of my own cents into this before reading the rest of the articles in this one.

Having played games since the Commodore 64 days, and having gamed on almost every system (regardless of whether I owned it, rented it, played it at a friend's house), I have to say that I do _not_ thrive on excessive difficulty. If I see a GAME OVER screen and I can't figure out what the hell happened or if I want to snap my controller in half (which wasn't uncommen in the PSX and PS2 era) then the game is invariably doing something wrong in my mind and it does not endear me to it, nor makes me want to keep playing if it happens repeatedly in a short time span. If I get do get a GAME OVER screen, it should be because I screwed up somewhere and I should be well aware of that. Missing a jump in a Mario game on the SNES because I jumped too soon/late is one thing. Missing a jump because the camera angle is wrong, I can't seem to get mario to go in a straight line, and he refused to jump off that wall and landed in a pit of deadly ice water has nothing to do with my own skills at the game (whatever they may be).

I am sick of games that promote "competition" because I do not enjoy playing against other people. I don't mind playing WITH other people, but not against them. The in-game AI can be cruel enough in their taunting at times, laughing at you or throwing some random insult or the GAME OVER being replaced to YOU LOSE! with an 'amusing' context or font, but real flesh and blood gamers are beyond that. They call you names, they rub it in your face, and if you're genuinely new to the game and are still learning, they have the audacity to tell you that you flat-out suck and shouldn't be playing. Go to GameFAQs for a perfect example of what is wrong with many gamers these days. And speaking of that crowd, I'd love to point out their love of T&A, but that's not part of this article.

No, for me, the harder a game is, the less likely I am to want to finish it. Of course that's gonna leave me depressed, but who cares about the gamer's needs/concerns right? So long as we dish out our hard-earned money to the big corporations that want to own our souls, it's all good, right? Not for me, and that's why I've been buying less and less games every year. Many are either ridiculously hard or unfair or cheap, such as Trauma Center (which I could never beat without cheating and even THEN it almost gave me carpel tunnel). Keep in mind that it wasn't exclusive to games today, as anyone who played the X-men game on the Sega Genesis can probably attest to.

Does that mean I want games piss easy? No, of course not, but moderation and clear definition of difficulty needs to be addressed. When I play Easy mode, I expect it to be Easy, and for the most part that's certainly the case. However, when Normal and Hard are barely discernable as different, the line has been blurred and I can't help thinking that the designers missed the point of difficulty in the first place.

Megaman 9 is a good example of a game that doesn't know what difficulty settings are. We have a piss-poor game with bad level design (although it looks and sounds great, to be true), but we've got pits and spikes everywhere with respawning enemies and doesn't even FEEL like an older Megaman game. You know what it reminded me of? Megaman X8 and Sigma Palace. So I check out Downloadable content to see if they had an "easy mode" and what do I see? Hard Mode and Cry-Some-More Mode. Oh, you want those neat sliding and charging abilities? Here, have Protoman. Cool, Proto! Oh wait, he gets hit further and takes twice as much damage. Fuck that. I thought Protoman was supposed to be good.

You know what? I hate games I can't complete. I can't stand them at all, but it's those ones that always keep me coming back.

Having a game you can complete easily gets boring. It's the challenging ones that are interesting, as they give you targets to smash.

And I wonder why back in the old days of the NES era, games were frustrating game moments and this current generation most games are easy to complete.

 

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