Let’s not kid anyone here, gaming can be infuriating. Whether it be the content within that makes your blood boil or outside forces making the endeavour itself difficult, my favourite past time can get under my skin. However, when I am told that it is “just a game” something deep within me feels compelled to defend it. You know why? Well I should hope not otherwise this post is only a means to affirm yourself. I will proudly say I love gaming despite the froth at my mouth in the moment because it is okay for something I love to upset me, especially when it is gaming.
Now, if I had to name the game in my childhood that really pulled me into gaming, it would be a clear winner with Sonic 2. I love that game in its entirely, the music is stellar, gameplay is superb while still being almost infinitely re-playable. You wanna know what an average playthrough sounds like? Something along the lines of “these FUCKING SLICERS”, “this seahorse needs to eat a whole BAG of dicks right now” as well as ” If I ever live to find the guy who put that crab here I’m going to make him eat medium rare horse dick”. Yeah, this is my childhood gaming, the push into gaming I got was from a game that even to this day contains absolutely infuriating aspects. You know what though? I’ve still played it more than 30 times through for the hell of it.
The very nature of video gaming is often presented as a challenge, a challenge that doesn’t always fight fair. Anybody who is even the slightest bit familiar with much of retro gaming would know that a lot of the difficulty came from the design of the game being heinously cheap, it was the way to make a game last longer than an hour in the days of yonder. Some games will never get my love and I will happily smite them with critique and hateful words till my last breath., this will never change. However the majority have some element in them that we can grasp some sort of joy or happiness from, as the outlet of my life of course I’m gonna get emotional when things go awry, even if I come here to relax. You get more emotional because this is how you are trying to relax.
As much as it pains me to say it I must admit I am not good at all the game I play immediately. The learning process varies depending on the genre knowledge I possess and of course how well the game actually teaches me how to play. Anyone who has made slow progress into becoming adept at something will know the feeling of not making much headway, of not grasping things and adapting as fast as they’d like or as necessary to move forward. So yes, there is gonna be blood sweat and tears, yeah there might be the call out of absolute horse pucky when I don’t land where my drop shadow is and my sanity begins to slip. That doesn’t mean what I’m doing is meaningless or ever “just a game”.
I get the feeling the people who say such things either don’t connect the the dots in their head to see this in a gruelling challenge or have never been challenged to this degree before. Truthfully the competitive side of people is more than just winning, it is every action leading up to it. A guy was watching me play a fighting game and at the end tried to calm me down with ” look you still won”, my retort being “I didn’t care about winning, I cared about a good fight”. If I lose I lose but dammit it better be because I got outplayed not because of something fantasticly stupid or cheap. Even in that fury I still wanna look for where I can improve, I’m not gonna get upset and walk away usually, my method is to see what went wrong and see if I can fix it.
Of course there are moment when one should just walk away, maybe get something to eat and drink to bring themselves down to a calmer state. I know I’ve sat there trying to beat the Slippery Climb level in Crash Bandicoot for 30 minutes with consistent failure, yet I come back the next day and beat it in one. Management of stress among other things is crucial in all aspects of life, especially when you are so close to things that bring these feelings out. It isn’t bad to have anger or frustration at things that should genuinely provide these things nor is it necessarily foolish to return to the source time and time again. Where we slip up is how we deal with those reactions, some people toss controllers and others just come back another day with a fresher mind.
Yes, I sat there and beat the final level after losing 100 lives. An uninformed observer might question why I kept going when it started to really dig into me, why anyone would press on with a knife in their side like that. I’m not saying this is a grand heroic endeavour to beat this level or stage in a game but for my story it might as well be, I put value into the conquest of this challenge before me and I don’t think anyone can say they would be happy to roll over and accept loss, not when they can try again. Maybe there is something deeply psychological in that aspect, about trying and trying again in video games as opposed to reality, that horrible place without reset buttons or save states, the entire experience being a one hit wonder in so many areas we wish to excel. All I know is playing games can bring out the worst in me as well as the best, that sometimes I gotta scream so that I can still enjoy besting the foes before me. Have at thee, you vile cur, you cheating bastard, you cheap spamming little shite. I will win this day!
When has a game given you obnoxious levels of shit yet never deterred you? What are some of your proudest gaming moments in the face of arduous adversity? When was the last time someone said “it’s just a game” and how did that make you feel? Thanks for the read and I’ll see you later.