on Apr 26, 2014
George asks, “Doesn’t that feel good?” There’s a really interesting divide here between types of players, and I feel like if we drilled down far enough we’d uncover some fundamental stuff about personalities and the way people cope with frustration. Rutskarn and I generally don’t experience that euphoric rush when we finally overcome a challenge. It’s more a sense of grudging relief, like when the dentist finally puts the drill down. It’s not a reward, it’s just the end of the thing that was making you miserable.
Josh and George are clearly the other sort of person. You can hear it when Josh screams “YEAH!” when he finally nails a challenge. George likewise evidently gets some kind of gratification from the process.
Which makes talking about this game really frustrating for me. Fans keep trying to explain to me that I just need to stick with it long enough to get that sense of accomplishment. But it will never happen because I’m not wired that way and don’t play games for those reasons. They assume that I just need to stick with it long enough to feel the release and I’ll be hooked. They’re selling me on the basis of a high that I will never feel.
Making things more complex is that for the Josh-types of tthe world, it seems like the higher the frustration, the better the payoff. It’s nice to beat the guy who killed you twice, but it’s SUPER AWESOME to finally beat the guy who killed you ten times. This is also not the case for me. It intensifies the misery of playing the game, but when it’s over I don’t get a bigger payoff.
In my case, I’m kind of always getting a payoff while I’m playing a game… until the moment I lose progress. I don’t start having fun again until I reach the point where I can repeat the challenge. So the more frustrating the boss, the less rewarding the game is. For me the reward isn’t finishing the job, it’s in doing (and perhaps optimizing) the job. Josh is gardening so he can grow the biggest squash and wow the townsfolk. I’m gardening because I like to garden, provided my efforts aren’t getting bulldozed every so often.
It doesn’t have anything to do with “getting good”. We experience games in very different ways and it’s not really related to skill level. Getting better would make the game less miserable, but it would never give me the the feeling of “victory”.
I wouldn’t be surprised to find that this is related to people’s attitude towards PvP. Josh is into PvP. I’m not. I hate losing and I don’t get a lot out of winning.
Anyway. That’s Dark Souls. Next week we’re heading back to Skyrim.
Thanks again to George for Spoilering with us!
Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.