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Tough bosses and gaming road blocks. Are difficult games about the destination or about the journey?

 I am currently stuck on a boss called Ixillis  in Remnant from the Ashes and I have tried and died over a dozen times so far without being able to overcome it. Stepping back and thinking about this makes me realise that while I really enjoy the sense of achievement I get from overcoming difficult challenges in games I don't actually enjoy the process of repeatedly trying and failing that is required to do so. I like the destination but I don't like the journey. I am beginning to think that this is a problem. 

It is a problem because the repeated cycle of trying and failing can pull down my mood in the real world. It is a problem because even though there are other games I could play instead, the lingering shadow of an unresolved encounter diminishes the pleasure I would get from other games. It is a problem because experiences like this make me fearful of hitting similar challenges in future either in this or in other games. It is a problem because I really do want the high I get from overcoming challenges in games. I have become dependent on it in fact so playing only easy games or playing games on their easiest difficulties is not an attractive option for me either.  

Hmm.. reading that last paragraph again suggests that things may have gotten serious. Gaming has been a huge part of my life for at least a quarter of a century and on the whole I am convinced it has been a positive experience. It has given me hobby and an interest. It has never caused any hurt to myself or anyone else and it has often given me a harmless distraction from the toils of the real world. It has broadened my horizons both in the real world and in the world of the imagination and while I have never really been a social gamer it has resulted in some shared experiences with other gamers online. When I played mmorpgs I was aware that gaming could become  a problem if you got too sucked in and neglected the demands of the real world but I survived my encounters without any lasting after effects. I can honestly say that gaming has never really been a problem for me. Yet here I am looking at a facet of my hobby which causes me stress rather than pleasure and I think I need to change my approach.  

I probably need to look at two things: 

In terms of destination it is not healthy to allow my personal happiness to be so dependent on overcoming virtual challenges. I need to get less low when I am failing and that probably means getting less high when I succeed. If I hit an insurmountable challenge I need to learn to accept it and move on. I need to get over feelings of shame or failure that arise from not completing an encounter or from having to lower difficulty settings. It is probably no coincidence that these things have come to a head during the covid pandemic when the strictures of lockdown and social distancing have narrowed all of our horizons. Maybe I just need to get out more and get a sense of perspective. 

In terms of journey I wonder if I can become more appreciative of the actual process of trying and failing and learning by doing. I would like to change my mindset so that instead of challenging encounters being scary roadblocks standing me and my enjoyment of the game  they become enjoyable parts of the game in themselves. I don't expect to be able to develop leet gamer skillz at my age but persistence is a skill that is available to anybody. 

Edit: Immediately after completing this post I decided to have another go at the boss that was holding me back. Following the resolve of this post I tried to focus on enjoying the encounter itself rather than concentrating on whether or not I would fail.  My first attempt of the day went very well. I got the twin bosses down to about 10% before a misstep sent me plunging off a narrow bridge to my death. I immediately went back in with an optimistic mindset and got it on the second attempt. Go me! I think that writing this post definitely helped. It helped me to diminish my view of the boss as a big bad scary roadblock which allowed me to enjoy the game more and also helped me to perform better. Of course just saying something to yourself doesn't immediately change deeply held feelings but it is definitely a good start. 


Tipa said…
I played a game a few months ago called Octopath Traveler. Most of the game was fairly straightforward, but the hidden final boss was orders of magnitude harder. I tossed myself at it for months before I finally beat it. It was totally unfair and unnecessary, but it did feel good when I finally beat it.

At the end of another game, Outer Wilds, the time pressure at the last bit of the game had gotten me into such a state that I couldn't even hold the controller. My boyfriend had to take the controller and enter the solution to the final puzzle for me. I enjoyed no part of that final thing.
jeff said…
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