Frustration is something we could do less off in our lives. It doesn’t seem to benefit us in any way, yet when it comes to playing games frustration is something we bitch about and yet in all honesty we never run away from. It's like those people who are in abusive relationships, aware of it and pledging that they're not really enjoying being smacked around whilst an episode of Judge Judy plays in background, yet they don't leave, they stay and submit.
We do that in games. We've always done that in games. Retro games are probably harder to play and complete than any modern game these days. Developers decided at some point that a truly sadistic game might scare people away and I'm not sure where they got this bright idea because that's never been true. A games difficulty level, in terms of having skill or perseverance never hindered its selling capability.
Now I'm not saying I love frustrating games, in fact I don't. But I do have guilty pleasures, recently Super Crate Box being one. It took me a while just to get past the tutorial stage and yet despite how frustrating it was that I would die for a simple slip on the keyboard, I didn't rage, I laughed. I laughed at suffering. What is wrong with me?
Now frustrating games that we enjoy isn't a complete lost avenue, we have games like Dark Souls that seems to be designed purely for those who enjoy nightly bouts of self flagellation and submitting themselves to episodes of Jersey Shore. I watched a few episodes of Jersey Shore once, it's pretty much the only thing I'm ashamed of in life. Apart from that time I got beat up by an elderly lady and then she weed on me. Fuck you Fanny McGuire! Ya old cretin!
Any...way - frustrating games are a staple within this hobby we all participate in. There's little reward to be gained from completing a game that is extremely simple.
Ok too easy but at least it was funny
Earth Defense Force for example is a pretty standard monatamous game, yet despite it's simplicity and complete lack of frustration, it is enjoyable. Yet for some reason I don't achieve an orgasmic buzz from hearing the achievement boop noise set off when I've completed the chapters. Even completing the game wasn't exactly rewarding. That was a game that despite being simple, had one frustrating element and it's the wrong kind of frustration...it was too long. It was really long. And when you play a game that can be beaten even if you were blindfolded, that's all well and good, but don't just drag it out and offer players 5 or so achievements for all their effort. Ok not effort, for all their holding of the controller.
You can tell she is a gamer cos she is holding a controller
Dark Souls seems to offer frustration in a BDSM manner while as Super Crate Box offers frustration in a fun, slightly more innocent nostalgic manner.
There’s games that are known for being frustrating as a whole, then there are games that have such a title primarily because of certain traits or individuals levels within them.
Escort missions never seem to be a fan favourite and I think most people find them to be tedious and annoying, unless the AI of the escortee is somewhat competent.
When people think of frustrating Superman games usually the N64 version is the first to spring to mind, but for me personally the winner was Superman on Xbox. That games was ridiculous and because of one key element in frustration generation (oh that could be a band name…of a band no one likes) and that element is the timer. Timers can bugger off quite frankly, sometimes they’re fair and the sense of adrenalin is heightened and beating the timer adds to the overall reward of beating a level or game, but a lot of the time timers serves one purpose and that is to grind your gears and boil your blood. Superman on the Xbox had a level where you had to put out fires on buildings all over Metropolis in a certain amount of time.
The flying mechanics (a peeve I talked about in my comic book game post) were awful and the time given was unrealistic and it just made me want to hurl my gigantic Xbox controller at the tv.
Timers, random skill settings soaring up without your knowledge, escort missions, slow moving sequences or just long drawn out cutscenes that are reaking of blandness, are things that seem to be causing frustration in the games of today, which all in all is void of any positivity that older games produced by their sadomasochistic designs.
So maybe retro games still can teach modern day game designers a few lessons, there's a fine line between good and bad, a nice even mix can be quite satisfying and maybe the key to a good game is one that sets our blood pressure skyrocketing at various intervals.
So do you think frustration can be a good thing in a game? What are your favourite or even most loathsome frustration games/elements?