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reality is broken

Fun Failure and Unnecessary Obstacles

Before reading Reality is Broken, I can honestly say that I looked at video games from a more negative viewpoint than positive. I always thought of video games as nothing more than a hobby and as a college student, a way to procrastinate (for me, at least). One of the things I found interesting was the idea of failure being fun. Normally, we wouldn’t think of failure being something we would ever be okay with. Failure in a game is different however, because in games we get a second chance (and a third, fourth, fifth etc.). When we fail at something in our every day lives, such as failing a class, or not interviewing for a job well, we may not get a second chance. The fact that in a game you always have another chance to succeed takes away the negative aspects that we normally associate with failure. Also, McGonigal adds in the fact that a lot of time failing in a game can be funny. One example of this that I have had experience with and that she even uses later in part one is Rock Band. When you fail at a song, the song does not just end, you get boo’d off stage and it makes you laugh a little. It takes away the “ugh” feeling of losing. Another thing I found interesting is the idea of unnecessary obstacles. Her example with golf was something that made me laugh. It’s interesting that in reality, we could actually walk the ball to the hole and call it a day, but that is to boring for us. We choose unnecessary obstacles in video games because these are obstacles that we have chosen ourselves and no one else is making us overcome them. I think this is why it is so easy for me and I am sure many others to get distracted from important tasks by games. For me, Candy Crush on Facebook is my unnecessary obstacle. Jane Mcgonigal describes this perfectly when she says “Games make us happy because they are hard work that we choose for ourselves” (28). There is no one telling me that I need to beat all of these levels on Candy Crush, but I want to for that reason alone.



2 thoughts on “Fun Failure and Unnecessary Obstacles

  1. When I read the section on failure in gaming making us happy, it was quite a surprise. My experience with gaming is quite different, where I would slowly start getting frustrated as I fail more and more. The argument she makes may be a legitimate one, where there are some games which makes us happy regardless of whether we fail or not. One problem with this argument however, is the fact that Mcgonigal does not talk about games where failure can produce negative emotions. Combat games are one where failing can be seen as negative, since you worked so hard to pass a number of levels. I like playing combat games and I don’t feel very happy when I lose. I do agree with your comment on the idea of distraction and choosing the hard work for ourselves, since online games, which are more light hearted and funny, make it easier for gamers to feel no negative emotions when failing, but only makes them strive harder to finish the game successfully.

    Posted by aditipre | May 22, 2013, 3:58 pm
  2. It was interesting that McGonical pointed out that the games like Rock Band make us smile when we fail. You say that it is good to know that we have a second chance if when we have failed. In many respects I agree with you and in life we do sometimes get a second chance. There are many instances in life that we do not get a second chance and games like these may teach a lesson that is not worth learning over and over again. Is the act of failing emphasized and masked by a funny booing crowd make a positive statement in its lesson? I don’t know if this is what is happening but it does make you think. Do games like these re-enforce the negative idea that failure is something that is always ok?

    Posted by wjcasey | May 23, 2013, 12:28 pm

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