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reality is broken

Failure Can Be Fun

A pretty big surprise to me in Reality is Broken is the idea that when we play video games, we enjoy failing.  I feel like this is an important idea to bring up because while this surprises me, McGonigal explains that it also surprises most other people as well.  What we actually enjoy is how we fail in games and the fun we have when it happens.  In a game, when we fail, something interesting happens like we fall off a cliff, explode, or some other strange event occurs.  This can be humorous or at least a little interesting.  When we fail in real life, we often will get yelled at by our employer, or ruin our chances completely of reaching our goal.  This brings up the idea that in games, we can keep trying until we succeed, often times starting back at a checkpoint that was not too far ago.  In real life, if we fail, we always seem to either ruin our chances completely of getting at what we want, or having to start over from the beginning.  This brings a frustration to real life that will never occur in a game.  If a game didn’t let us continue playing after we died, we would never play it again.  The chance to try again, along with the interesting ways of failure lead to optimism and make a player want to keep trying knowing that eventually they will succeed.  While this seems true in most cases, this does not take into account the idea of “rage quit.”  This is a term for when a player loses or dies and then gets frustrated and quits the game often by turning off the system.  A lot of work can be put into video games and if you die and have to start over from a point very far back, it feels very much like real life, causing you to not want to play the game for a bit, possibly because it doesn’t give the other reality that we are looking for.



2 thoughts on “Failure Can Be Fun

  1. I also thought the idea of failure being fun was interesting. Failing at a game and failing in real life are two very different extremes. Failing at a game is okay because we do not really sacrifice anything more than time by doing so, but failing in real life can lead us to sacrificing much more than just time. The idea that you included about “rage quit” is also very interesting because it shows that failing at a game is not always fun. If you fail one too many times you are bound to quit. I have definitely been there in the days of playing Super Mario Bros where I make it so far and then run out of lives and have to start all over. I like what you said about not wanting to play the game for a bit if you fail too many times because i might not give the other reality we are looking for. One of the things I found most interesting about McGonigal’s work is her idea that we play games to escape many aspects of our real life. If we cannot get that feeling from a game, we probably will not play it anymore.

    Posted by sierrasu | May 22, 2013, 2:11 pm
  2. I was also surprised by the fact that the study showed people enjoyed and had positive reactions to failing while playing a video game. But after thinking about it more, I think it sort of makes sense, as you said, in reality failure often results in finite negative aftereffects, where as video games generally provide unlimited attempts at achieving success. I liked your comment on rage quitting, and think is a valid point that almost goes against of “fun failure”, and is something that should be looked into further. However, I think that rage quitting most likely happens less than the experience of having fun while failing in video games.

    Posted by bgwhipple | May 22, 2013, 2:55 pm

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