Recently, a roommate recommended that I play EA’s 2008 action-adventure game, Mirror’s Edge. I agreed, and walked blindly into what would become the most frustrating few days of my life.
I am bad at first person games, I admit that. The first one I played was Oblivion for the 360 two years ago, and for some reason I still cannot grasp turning the camera properly. Mirror’s Edge was (is, I haven’t finished the game) a huge challenge for me not only because of this, but because of the parkour, intense gameplay. I like to take my time on things, and I’m not super quick on my animated feet. However, this brings me to a question:
When does a game cease to be fun, a welcome challenge, just the right amount of tough? Is it after trying to perform the same maneuver about forty times to no avail? Or being relentlessly shot at while trying to get through a door that needs time to open? My perfect game in this regard is probably Super Mario Land for the Gameboy: just tough enough that it is challenging, but not so hard that it becomes overly frustrating. Yeah, I might get a little testy while playing it, but it is fun! A challenge can be very welcoming – games shouldn’t be too easy. The perfect game needs a little bit of frustration and heart-pounding moments that make the eventual victory even sweeter.
When a game isn’t fun anymore, why bother trying? Why am I still trying to beat Mirror’s Edge, despite the fact that it’s taking me twice as long as I should, I still cannot fully grasp the controls (I know, there are only a few buttons. This makes it even worse.). I’m not really invested in it at all, and it makes me want to spike a controller. I don’t think I’m even enjoying myself anymore a lot of the time. But I can’t stop playing.
If completing a game to 100% or even the thought of completing the main storyline gives me a feeling of relief more than accomplishment, I think that’s a sign.. Relief and accomplishment usually go hand in hand with beating a game, especially if it is a difficult one. But I don’t want my games to feel like chores that I’m trying to finish as quickly as possible.
We hear the trope of the angry gamer; the spiked controller always comes to my mind first. Okay, if I am going to be spiking a controller, a game has to be insanely good to keep me coming back to it. If gaming, something I do to relax and enjoy myself, is constantly causing me frustration, what is the point? I can understand some anger here and there – I’ve definitely gotten really irked over boss battles and whatnot – but if Mirror’s Edge is constantly making me want to rip out my hair, maybe I should stop.
So here is where I reach out to my fellow gamers: When is a game too frustrating for you, and where do you draw the line? Have you ever stopped playing a game because it was pissing you off too much, and do you feel bad about it? This is really a first for me – I don’t think any game has frustrated me this much before. Maybe with some outside insight I can finally put down this game and not feel like I am letting it defeat me.