Results of Poll 11: Public Spaces
Hope of Change

Poll 12: Failure in Videogames

This poll asks you to consider how you react to failure in a videogame - do you continue to push for victory, do you fight on because you don't want to feel that the makers of the game have beaten you, do you keep trying until you're too angry to continue, or do you just get bored and give up?

As ever with polls, it can be hard to abstract to a single answer, especially as different games will produce different reactions. I suggest simply looking at the answers on offer and picking the one that you feel best describes your behaviour in this context and not worrying about the niggling details. No-one knows how you play games better than you do!


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I've put the first one, but as you say, it's really going to depend on the game. There are two different kinds of difficulty, which I will impartially call "good" and "bad".

Good difficulty is overcome by thinking about why you are failing and trying a better strategy. This I will keep trying at.

Bad difficulty is overcome by trying over and over again hoping to get split-second timing exactly right. This is just frustating, so I'll usually give up.
Unfortunately this sometimes occurs very far into a game, where you must repeat a boss fight over and over again from the start of the level, so since I've already sunk a lot of time into it I'll often keep trying just for completion, but it pisses me off.

So I've chosen the answer that reflects how I behave with regard to well-designed games. If I ever behave differently, that's the fault of the game designer.

I selected "I'll keep trying for a while, then I'll get bored and give up" - on the poll. But I find that it´s not always that simple.

Often I find that the amount of time i want to spend on game challenges directly correlate to my immersion and the "reward" i will get for getting past the challenge.

As an example I could mention a Tetris clone type of game. At some point it just gets too difficult for me to play, and i decide to leave for another game - because I don´t feel drawn by the game to carry on.

But a game like Portal keeps me hooked and inspired to try to solve even the puzzles that seem impossible - why? Because I want to learn the truth about the cake....

But for the purpose of a poll.... I selected option 3 ;-)

Funny thing; I had something similar to this happen just last night while playing Dead Space, although it wasn't a single challenge that did me in. There was just an accretion of things around that asteroid-shooting segment that sent the controller down to the end of the couch. Out came Dead Space, in went Fallout.

As Julian Murdoch once told me after I walked away from a game, having decided it was no longer entertaining me, "Then you have matured as a gamer."

If it looks like I can beat it I tend to keep trying for a while, until I get bored. This includes split-second timing stuff.

If it's something I need to figure out but the solution isn't obvious yet, I'll often leave it for a few weeks while I let my subconscious work on it.

If it just seems way too difficult and it was like hitting a brick wall, I'll usually stop playing the game altogether (though not in angry disgust) after the first try or two. Though this isn't what you asked in the poll! If I've tried it several times already it's very likely that this is not the situation. I have a lot of games sitting here like this.

So I answered the Bored option, cause it's the most likely.

It is a rare game indeed that will keep me working on a seemingly impossible puzzle for ages, and even rarer for me to work on it without looking up a spoiler or walkthrough. Though I have been trying more to resist doing that as it is more satisfying to figure it out if I can. But then if I really want to see what happens next...

I don't give up on games -- I just save them until some indefinite, unspecified future date that may or may not arrive. But I never think of it as "giving up" I always think of it as "putting it off until later".

One of my games actually made "giving up" an important part of the game: if you gave up the game before you finished the game, there was an alternate "ending".

Always interested in people's descriptions of their play, in this and any other context!

I really identify with what Wordsmythe says here - for years, I was unable to put down a game, principally for reason (2) - too stubborn to admit defeat. :) Although of the answers given, (3) feels like the closest description to how I used to play.

But some time in the last few years, my attitude to games radically changed. Now I put down games with much greater ease... I suppose I now feel that if I'm going to play the whole of the game, it should be offering me a play experience that I expect to enjoy throughout. If it isn't, then the design has failed in the context of me, and that's just not my problem. :)

I recently stopped playing Assassin's Creed. I might go back to it... but I'm doubtful. It wasn't that I wasn't enjoying it (although I certainly was not enjoying the most tediously interruptive framing narrative I've ever run into) but just that it screwed me on one of the flags (the "infamous" flag). The flags aren't even a critical part of the game, but the feeling that I had been screwed made me feel the game wasn't interested in my needs as a player. That made it easy to put down.

Of course, the unskippable cut scenes, some of which I had to endure many times because of my confusion concerning when the game banked my progress in the story missions, had already left me precariously balanced between my admiration for what the game did well, and my disgust at what it had done badly.

I must say, I am thoroughly enjoying being able to stop playing games! It makes me feel far more human. :)

Alright, better get something up for today and that will be my last post for a while. I might wrangle comments on Monday, but I can't guarantee it, so if I don't "speak" to any of you until later this month enjoy your play, and your lives - may both be sources of infinite fun!


Yeah... That one is hard...

My answer would be "it never happened". There has always been a certain point where I said "ok, this is too difficult to be achieved, will I be able to ?" And then the answer would of course depend on the game. But in single player, there has always been a time where I know I have to stop because either it won't be for tonight, or I better give it up before I get angry at a game.

So yeah... I never stop, as long as I know I can do it. But that's funny though, I never thought of it as the developers vs me, it's always been the game and the game alone :)

Osk: so why don't you ever consider stopping playing? Because the reward of victory lures you onwards, or because you are never willing to admit defeat? That's the choice for you as I see it! :)

Hurrah, I've made my decision :)
Your post with the poll put me on a 4 Chris. Why - "because you don't want to feel that the makers of the game have beaten you" - which neatly removes all my multiplayer concerns. If a game itself starts to annoy me with it's "impossibility" or just simply challenges I find irritating or uninteresting I will just put it down and move onto something better. It may take me a while though - I think that's more a function of what else I have available that I want to play though :)

I'd say that I fall into an unrepresented category (though I sort of fit with the first one).

I will return to the game with a new strategy. I will attempt to do more leveling, or practice more skills, or try different tactics that I've though of while on break. Sometimes the time away will provide an epiphany to a particularly twisted puzzle.

If these continue to fail then I will bypass the problem. This usually happens when the game design is so narrow that I have to play the single way the designer intended and it doesn't match my mental model of the game. If the strategy or solution never occurs to me, and nothing I've tried works then I'll essentially give up. On the puzzle/challenge anyway. I'll search out a hint guide, FAQ, walkthrough, or (if really bad) cheat code that will let me keep playing.

This is better than what I used to do, which was get frustrated and/or bored. I have a lot of unfinished games because of this. Now I don't leave games because of challenges. Just because my attention has lapsed on them.

As a developer, its definitely a battle against the developers who made the game. Even though in the back of my mind, I know how easy it is for them to make it impossible. I keep telling myself....theres no way they would make it this hard.

Then finally, I'll just get too pissed off and play one of my games for the vote of confidence.

Thanks for the comments everyone!

Rik: obviously it's easy to give up a game that's annoying you when you have other games to capture your attention. ;)

Duncan: I like the way you conceptualise going to the FAQ as "giving up on the game" - you're still continuing to play it! :) For me these days, going to the FAQ is "becoming disappointed with the game"... but I don't shy away from it. I just think ill of any game that will cause me to take this step.

Eric: I'm frequently astonished by what some developers consider to be an acceptable level of difficulty in their games. Part of this is doubtless the skewing of perception that happens because they have been working with the game for (say) eighteen months and so no longer have any conception of what a new player's skills will be like. Partly it seems to be intentional cruelty in some cases! Either way, I have very little respect for this sort of thing these days.


I'm a hardcore player in the sense of game literacy and amount played, but distinctly casual in the level of hardship I will put up with.

I want to have fun, get through the game and not struggle too much. Some games give me this experience, most do not.

I'll give up on a game when it dead-walls me - e.g. makes me go through a bottleneck which is too tough.

I'll have a few goes at it - check a FAQ if it's not looking obvious *how* I do it, then try a bit more. If by this point I am unable to do it, and it isn't what I would term close to happening, the game will be put to one side.

I only occasionally return to such games. I selected 4th option on poll.

Neil: That seems like a fair fit. At the very least, it's clear that the "main answers" don't apply to you.

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