It's pitch dark, with only the sound of my own teeth grinding together to keep me lucid. I toil away with some tools in a quiet corner of the room held aloft with the knowledge that this game must end at some point. With no especially newfound resolve, I wipe the sweat from my forehead and shakily use the key item on the key thing and said thing gives me another key thing to maybe get me to the next level. I suppose I feel better.
I hear it behind me.
The horrifying music grates on my ears as I spin around to see the monster arrived at the threshold to this room probably yesterday, browsed the decor, tweeted about it, and now he wants to flippin' scrap, mate. Before I can react normal-like, I scream, leaving myself open for a lunge. BAM! I'm hit, but my flight instinct wants me to bunny hop in place instead of maybe dishing up a hearty serving of dust for the monster to chew on as I make my escape. But no, BAM #2, I die.
When I was a youngermun doing my A-Levels, PewDiePie was blowing up in a big way, getting everyone - including myself - into Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Honestly, the countless times I tried to get YouTube famous by doing let's play videos... *shudder* prime wince material. And it was also the first horror game I had ever played, and probably the first horror anything I'd consumed. I was so scared most of the time, actually struggling to get past the first few encounters, letting my overactive imagination get to me before the actual threat ever could; a lot of despaired alt-F4s, let me tell you.
But then it hit me, maybe after the fifty-seventh or the sixty-ninth panic death, it hit me: I'm still alive. More importantly, I can die but I cannot... die. Whenever I die, I reload the game to an earlier state and am given the chance to try again.
The impassable obstacle presented by Amnesia's monster had turned into a puzzle of hide and seek (and running), learning me real good that there's no reason to give up as soon as the monster bats their torn eyelids at me and instead think of a quick escape route, maybe try stuffing myself into a wardrobe for a second. Oh I still died quite a lot, but with each death I was learning more about the monster's behaviour and eventually developed the fleet of foot needed to jilt the heck out of the creep.
For me, this was an extremely formative lesson, and not just an attitude I have adopted for playing video games but also in real life. I'm not saying Amnesia: The Dark Descent taught me how to think more tactically in general or that I've died a bajillion times IRL; I'm saying that I've since learned that there's almost no reason to be anxious about most things and to just calmly think about what I want to do, then I can navigate this complicated puzzle that is this life.
So let's give a big hand to video games for making me less of a turkey and remember: You gotta fly like an eagle!