The whole point of gaming when I started was to get away from the frustrations of real life. It was an opportunity to do things I can’t do and escape into a world that I don’t need to take all that seriously. Little did I know that frustration was not one of the things I’d be able to escape. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I don’t deal well with frustration and getting stuck in a game is teaching me very quickly to get a better handle on it.
I started playing with loud objection every time I hit a difficult patch that seemed insurmountable. I didn’t like having to complete pvp achievements to complete What a long, strange trip it has been and I particularly dislike getting stuck on obstacles that has nothing to do with game play, like falling off pipes because I don’t have the motor control I’d like to have and standing in stuff because I dislocated a wrist or thumb or a few fingers and now can’t move my character before she died a shameful death.
I’ve spent quite some time on The Turkinator and it’s been particularly frustrating with post-concussion reflexes, but at no point did it feel impossible to accomplish. I have learned not to keep going until I success, that way lies madness and broken cups, computers and fingers. I stop when I get frustrated and take a break to come back fresh for another go later. It’s a good strategy. I do get better with practice and although certain things are pretty random and I can’t predict and plan everything, knowing where the turkeys are did make it easier. And by day three it’s quieter too which makes it easier as well.
I used to think very differently about in game obstacles. These days, I try to work my way around obstacles in whichever way I can think of. Sometimes it means trying different hardware or different key bindings, different strategies and sometimes it’s just about persisting until I develop the skills required to succeed. It’s easier to say that my reflexes are crappy and my muscles are weak and there’s nothing I can do about either of those. And that’s true enough. It’s harder to say that those are not the only two things that affect skill. There are so many factors involved in mastering the individual parts in a game and somehow somewhere there is room for improvement and sometimes, that’s enough to make the difference between success and failure.
Getting stuck is frustrating. Running around for three hours trying to kill turkeys was frustrating. But when I finally did get to 40, the accomplishment wasn’t just an achievement. When I started on Sunday, I was running into trees and having issues killing a turkey despite the fact that I had it macro’d and was only required to hit 3 to target and 4 to kill and by lunch time today, I was killing turkeys whilst singing along to Diamond Head’s Am I Evil, not even thinking much about what I was doing at all and yet doing it pretty well. Yes, time makes a difference, but so does practice and experience. Sometimes the frustrating part in a game is just that, frustrating, but other times, having worked for something makes the reward a little sweeter. And working, that’s not the gigantic waste of time I used to think it was either.
I found Batman looped in circles that took a while to untangle when I logged in to play. Apparently at some point in the 16 hours I don’t remember I had thought it a good idea to be Batman. Go figure. I can’t imagine how frustrating it must have been trying to figure that out whilst disoriented and a little confused, but I’m glad that I tried anyway. It says something about me that I like. It would’ve been better if I’d been more sensible and say, realized I needed medical attention, but still, I went somewhere that felt safe and Batman, well that’s a big improvement over the corner on the carpet in a dark bedroom. Frustration is everywhere, it’s pointless trying to escape it. But overcoming it or finding a way around that which you can’t overcome, that’s a strategy I didn’t know I had until I was singing “I am evil, yes I am”, sipping decaff with a sleeping cat in my lap and the achievement finally flashed up. It took a while, it took quite a few times of starting and stopping and when done, I used to wonder was it worth it or what will the next obstacle be, but today, I just relished the moment. Life doesn’t have to be that particular and sometimes, a sense of success and accomplishment comes in weird and seemingly tiny packages that are plenty valid, memorable and meaningful.