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Trial and Error: The Satisfaction of Constant Failure


Then what makes trial and error so satisfying? Surely watching your avatar get spiked, sliced, crushed or otherwise mutilated countless times in a myriad of maddening ways would make a grind on one's patience, right? Well, for those without patience and determination, they do not get to experience the incredible satisfaction of glorious victory upon success of these cruel challenges. Remember when you *finally* completed the ridiculously difficult Veni, Vidi, Vici Segment of VVVVVV, all to get that last energy core? Or when you *finally* figured out the precise timing to jump over the buzzsaw while the brain slug slowly dragged you to your potentially grizzly demise in Limbo? How about watching and cheering on the championing member of the swarm of Meat Boys as he jumps, slides, dips and dives to save Bandage Girl from the wrath of everything around him in the replays of Super Meat Boy? Much like the fastest sperm to an egg, that champ was, and is, you. Congratulations, chief, doesn't it feel great? We all know the fiery feeling of victory when we finally overcome the most challenging of situations, and that's what makes those games great. Figuring out every possible way to fail and finally coming out on top. Unless you did it the first time, in which case, you are a bad enough dude.

Sometimes games don't need to be ridiculously hard to appreciate the trial and error gameplay mechanic. Consider Patrick Smith's quirky little game Windosill. It's a game that probably best exemplifies the notion of games-as-a-toy, and fiddling around with every possible option is what brings out the beauty of the piece. The whole game is about interacting with the environment in order to find the little cube that opens the door to the next room, and like trying to get that last penny out of the piggy bank, you're going to have to shake every possible way first. The more the player interacts with their environment, the more things they discover, and the more tools and toys they have to play with. This is the fundamental idea of games as a whole, experiences that challenge and treat the player, rewarding players for actions, and providing progress to the proven. If you can't figure it out, try something else, and if that doesn't work, then play with what you've got. After all, that's why we're all here for, to play. Even the badasses.

I really do urge people to stick it out when playing a game that seems impossible, because its satisfaction grows exponentially with your failures. The harder a thing is to complete, the more satisfying it's completion will be. At the same time, don't let a game disrespect your time by sending you to the beginning of the chapter due to a lack of checkpoints or genuinely unfair game design, that's not your fault, that's the developers not caring about the player.

If you have VVVVVV in your Steam library, give it another chance, because it really is a magnificent game. Same with Super Meat Boy and Limbo. Don't get discouraged, because these games were made to be beaten. They were made to challenge your skills and tenacity, and with perseverance you will feel outstanding more times than you could playing any game that simply holds your hand and drags you along.

You are awesome. You know it, now go prove it.
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About Timtoidone of us since 10:35 PM on 08.07.2007


I'm Tim and I have a deep passion for games. Always have and always will. These days I'm pretty much a PC gamer exclusively and Steam is the black hole in my bank account.

I love FPS and RPG's the most, but I'm also interested in the wide world of indie games, art games, and pretty much anything that is different and weird. Some of my all-time favorite games include Half Life 2, Diablo 2, Team Fortress 2, Tetris, Borderlands, Torchlight and Bioshock.

I'm a 21 year old Canadian guy who loves writing/blogging, gaming, animation, drawing, curling, bacon and coffee-- all drenched in maple syrup.

I hope you enjoy what I write, and I would one day like to end up as a professional in the field of games journalism or working as a creative in the advertising/entertainment industry.

You can also follow me on Twitter @twgrant where I tweet about neat stuff to cool people, like you!

<-- The cool stuff is that way.
Xbox LIVE:Timtoid
Steam ID:http://steamcommunity.com/id/tim


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