“Game over.” “You are dead.” “Wasted.” These phrases are rites of passage, a rebuke to ill-equipped video game players for the task ahead. Whether you’re controlling Leon Kennedy’s ragdoll body spinning from an exploding tripwire Resident Evil 4 or lose a fight to a cheap low sweep Super street fighter 4dying sucks.
But that doesn’t mean you do.
It’s easy to attribute a loss, or losses in a row, to being “trash” in a particular video game. The genesis of the “git gud” mantra hinges on the premise that you’re just a bad player.
But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Failure in games has always been a stepping stone to discovering what kind of gamer you are.
Getting older and getting wiser
In February, the French studio Sloclap came out It was, an action brawler that tested the mettle of gamers looking for a challenge. The difficulty was so intense that it literally aged the game’s protagonist. He throws legions of henchmen at you, and upon dying, you get upgrades as your character gains wrinkles and gray hair.
The result was a grueling, rewarding, and utterly maddening experience that reignited the polarizing conversation about what it meant to be skilled at games. You were good It was why did you play without dying or taking damage? Perhaps you were better because you stuck to Master difficulty when a patch was later released to flatten the difficulty curve?
Dying inside It was it doesn’t mean you’re playing badly – it’s an essential feature of the game that leads to greater potential for your character, while building a unique narrative of aging and revenge. And that’s not the only big title this year pitting players against their wits and rewarding ‘failing forward’.
Gathering around Ring
FromSoftware’s Elder Ring it was the latest in a portfolio of dismal commercial hits, and when it also came out in February 2022, its popularity surprised even its publisher.
Spiritual predecessor Dark souls embodies the toll that death takes on a player: that series’ macabre feel and Lovecraftian horrors cultivated a space where the community thrived. Elder Ring is no different, as it uses the same co-op features to help players lean on each other, as well as numerous guides and walkthroughs posted online.
Despite the availability of these resources, some fans claim that if you use these tools to beat the absurdly challenging bosses Elder Ring, you never played it as intended. Community members on Reddit and other message boards have called out “guardians” who shame players for summoning allies – a co-op feature featured in FromSoftware titles since 2009 The souls of demons.
Dying inside Elder Ring or other Souls games don’t even mean you suck. Instead, failure pushes you into channels of communication and cooperation that might otherwise be lacking. It fosters a space for new and veteran players to brainstorm ideas and create silly content.
It also taught me that wandering can be a good thing: I’ve died too many times to count Elden’ ringThey are huge orcs, knights and bears. Initially I hated his obtuse systems. However, through the support network built around it, I learned how to deal with the overwhelming challenges of the game.
Devoted fans are eager to back up directions when players become understandably frustrated with new and deadly things lurking in Middle-Earth. It is a testament to the universal struggle we share to recover from a screen of death.
I can’t catch them all
Death and dying are not exclusive to darkness and gloom. Even franchises like Pokémon have had challenges designed to fluster even the most seasoned trainers.
Fans have long designed “Nuzlockes” as ways to increase the difficulty of these otherwise tame games. A “Nuzlocke” run involves self-imposed rules that a player must observe while navigating the Pokémon game of his or her choice.
The phenomenon isn’t unique to these titles, but has thrived on community efforts to share as much information as possible to beat a given “Nuzlocke.” These arbitrary rules may force you to only catch the first Pokémon you encounter on any path, or they may limit the number of Poké Balls you may carry or purchase.
Pokémon Emerald Kaizo is widely regarded as one of the hardest “Nuzlocks” to complete due to its unforgiving rules, with a variety of enemies that surpasses the original base game design. There’s also a gentler path for those who want to poke around a bit, like I did with a custom randomizer for Green leaf which changes every Pokémon you meet, including beginners.
To fail a “Nuzlocke”, to grow old It wasor even summon Elder Ring they are not indicators of a bad player. Instead, they’re challenges that build community and personal growth—they force you to learn how to be better at the things you love to play.
If failure is the stuff of life, then it should count doubly in the digital space, where the stakes are much more forgiving. Next time you hit “play again,” remember what Michael Jordan, one of the most powerful athletes on earth, said in that classic Nike commercial: “I’ve failed over and over again in my life. And that’s why I succeed.” . “
Jamal Michel is a freelance writer whose work focuses on video game culture, entertainment, and the stories between them. He is currently a member of the Life Kit And It’s been a minute teams.