We spend most of our days in video games struggling to stay alive. Call of Duty, Uncharted, Tomb Raider, it doesn’t matter what we’re playing, really. The entire concept of “stay alive” is the overarching theme in any game, no matter what. You die, game over, piss off, try again, git gud.
Growing up, I remember getting insanely angry when I died. That struggle for perfection, the fear of failure, the fury of having to face all those pain-in-the-ass enemies over again. It’s why I ended up hating games like Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls for so long. I was sick of dying over and over and over again. When I was young, the game that gave me so much hell was River City Ransom. I remember getting in trouble with my mom because RCR helped expand my profane vocabulary for many, many months.
For the longest time, I resisted things, even like World of Warcraft battlegrounds, because death was so frustrating. I would be with the pack, we’d get ambushed, I’d die, and boom, I would respawn somewhere ahead of the enemy, ensuring I would never get back to the main group, and would be stuck on defense for the remainder of the match. It pissed me off. I’d end up ragequitting just because of that god damned strive for perfection.
Then it happened. My friend Carrie met this guy everyone knew as Starlear. He was a rogue, probably the best one I’d ever seen in WoW. He never lost, he was a master of his class, and he was one of the nicest guys I’d ever met. He offered to teach us how to PvP, how to actually fight and win in World of Warcraft battlegrounds. I’ll never forget his first lesson. It changed everything.
“Accept the fact that you’re going to die.”
Okay, I can do that.
Death still stung, sure. It was still annoying, yes. But it didn’t have the impact anymore. I would just remember the name of the person who killed me, specifically target them, and murder their face the next time I saw them.
Amusingly enough, that simple lesson, spoken from someone who’d mastered the battlegrounds, changed everything about gaming for me. No longer was death a rage-inducing event that made the game less fun. But rather a challenge to rise to the occasion next time, and curbstomp whatever God-forsaken idiot was dumb enough to target me the last time. Coordination and communication made things easier, and playing with buddies ensured I had friendly, helpful people around at all times, both to watch my back, and hold the line when advancing.
The whole thing began to evolve throughout other games I played as well.
When Bloodborne and Dark Souls 3 emerged as the newest challengers, it was easier to take them on, realizing that death was only the beginning.
Admittedly, I’m a little old to really be angry at games anymore. At least that’s what some might say. Rage is one of those things in gaming that you don’t really feel until it’s happening to you. I remember a significant other who used to watch me play games saying “I don’t get what you’re so mad about. It’s just a game.”
Oh yeah? You try, cupcake.
It was only a short time later that I was taking a nap in our living room recliner, when I was stirred awake by the sound of cursing and fury under her breath that I knew she’d come to the realization that video games aren’t “just games” when it’s you suffering from the wrath of the digital world. All of us hit the rage point. All of us get to a certain place where it’s no longer fun and we’d love nothing more than to tear the enemy out of the screen, slam their face on our entertainment center, pull the disc out of our chosen console, and slam it into their teeth.
Or maybe that’s just me.
Maybe some of you reading this are sitting there thinking “Pfft, not me. I never die. Git gud, scrub.” That’s fine, I can live with the fact that you’re better at games. But somewhere, someone out there has had enough, and is ready to either trade the game in, or stomp it into splinters. Trust me, I’ve been there. Don’t give up!
No matter how you look at it, really, games affect all of our patience. But that simple lesson from Starlear…”Accept the fact that you’re going to die.”