Games, Ramble, Achievements, Challenge, Co-Op, Counter-Strike, Crash Bandicoot, Dark Souls, Darksiders, Gaming, Grand Theft Auto, GTA, Improvement, Losing, Mass Effect 3, McBraas, Multiplayer, Philosophy, San Andreas, World of Warcraft, McBraas
Lets just get it out of the way immediately. I hate multiplayer games and I rarely play them. Nor do I play really challenging games, timed games, endless wave games, co-op games or complicated games. No Dark Souls, tower defense or QWOP for me – no sir! But why is it that I refrain from going online in shooters; why is it that it took me over a month to get myself to press “multi-player” in the main menu of Mass Effect 3 , which turned out to be my favorite multiplayer game to date? Why is it that my computer and a bundle of small cardboard boxes are filled with a great array of games left unfinished? It’s really simple you see: I’m afraid of losing.
I don’t think anyone likes to lose a game. No one enjoys being shot in Counter-Strike. Nor does anyone relish a good whopping in Tekken. So why can we lose? Because if we couldn’t, then the game wouldn’t be exciting – a fact known to all! But for all the nerd-raging controller-tossing keyboard-bashing maniacs we enjoy laughing at on YouTube, I think that I handle losing worst, because I don’t even bother trying if something looks or seems difficult. I just give up and move on to the next game. The thing is, that earlier this year, I found out that it limits my gaming experience manyfold. Not because I’ll get more out of being an achiever, challenger or hardcore pro gamer, but because there are some really amazing and fun games out there, that I’ll never get to play, because I quit too early.
I really have been the worst loser there is. When I first completed San Andreas, I had already done so twice with cheat codes. The difficulty slider in oblivion went near the bottom less than 2 hours in-game. My only way of “completing” Crash Bandicoot, was to use a code that opened up all levels. I am so much of a cheater, that when I went to the cheat code screen in Bomber-Man, I guessed the “complete the game” cheat in my first try (it’s 1-2-2, by the way.)I dislike dying so much, that when I was playing World of Warcraft, I grinded an area so much that it’d leave scars, before I moved on to the next. And I rarely played PvP. I’ve literally given up on a kids game when I was 15. Every puzzle game I completed, I used a walkthrough for. I’ve done everything to keep away the horrible truth, that some things, I just suck at.
I am not alone, I am sure. Not everyone enjoys a difficult challenge. But I ask myself, why give up beforehand? In multiplayer, the answer is obvious to me: my fear of losing is merely a mask of a deeper issue. I am afraid I’ll be rejected by my team mates if I perform poorly. Not that it weighs heavily on my mind once I do get online and they just happen to do that, but for some reason the impact lands before I even know how I’ll be received once I man myself up enough to try. For other games – single-player experiences, if you will – I really have no idea. But one game recently taught me to be patient and practice. One game showed me what I was missing out on, for the sake of being a pancy. That game is Darksiders.
Darksiders is a 3rd person hack-and-slash game, featuring War, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, whose in a bit of a mess. Due to my lack of experience no doubt, I initially found this game to be difficult and already before the real adventure even started, I had put it away and forgotten all about it. Then, months later, I decided that maybe it was time to try again and so I did. I was sent on a quest to kill a bat queen and on the way, I died 2 times. Already at that point, I considered dropping the entire game once again. Petty, I know. Yet, for some reason I ventured on and at some point I met a large demon on a broken bridge, and it killed me 4 times. I thought to myself: one last try and only one! Thankfully, at that point, I nailed it and ripped that monster apart. Now you’re probably wondering why I am bothering you with the story of this one specific demon and here’s why: this particular demon perfectly symbolizes what made Darksiders so special and why it was able to help me accepting loss.
See, Darksiders is a creative games. The setting, combat and story are all very well done. But you only get to enjoy and appreciate that, once you’re well into the game. In order to do that, the demon on the bridge – and others – must be defeated. Yet, that demon on the bridge, among other big and frightening demons, initially seem like they are boss-fights, but they’re not! They’re more like introduction-fights. See, when you defeat a new hardcore demon, it become a somewhat regular encounter among the common demon rabble. In the beginning, that made me lose hope, but by the second half of the game, I discovered something. I was getting good! A combination of practice and patience had made me good enough to overcome any obstacle and for the second half of the game, I don’t even believe I died once. See, that’s what Darksiders do – they take something really difficult and then ease it into common encounters, ever so slightly, making your skills develop at an almost invisible rate. By the time I had completed the game, I felt amazing!
Darksiders is just one example of what I could have missed out on, out of my fear of losing. As I mentioned earlier, I waited a horrible amount of time before I tried out Mass Effect 3′s multiplayer feature, which then became my favorite online multiplayer game ever. And not only that, but I became really good at it, to the point where gold difficulty (hard) was a breeze. The list of examples have since grown.
Ever since that much-mentioned game of Darksiders was completed, I changed. I’ve grown more tolerant. The difficulty setting on Civilization 5, Age of Empires and whatever shooter you can think of, no longer remains on easy. My collection of games are no longer limited to those where my chances of “winning” are almost shamefully high, like Skyrim, The Guild, Lucius, Broken Sword, Minecraft or GTA with a dishonorable amount of cheats. The frequent deaths and retries of more difficult games no longer cause me to throw away the chance of a great experience. Also my patience have grown. I even went back and completed the first Digimon World, and you know what? It was awesome.
I guess what I’m saying is… Don’t ever be afraid that you’ll lose. Don’t whimper away if you think the big “pro” in DotA 2 is gonna criticize you. Don’t take cover offline just because that one guy got you with a head shot. And don’t give up on games like San Andreas, just because guys like Big Smoke keeps yelling that “all you had to do, was follow the damn train.” Give every game, even those that seem too dull or too difficult at first, a fair chance and you might discover that you’d enjoy them. I swear to you – and Dark Souls completionists will back my up in this – that beating challenging games brings forth a feeling unlike any other.