Fear of failure defeated one death at a time - The Echo News
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Fear of failure defeated one death at a time

Video game teaches life lessons

Learn how can a video game teach you lessons about life with (L to R) Tim Pietz, Elijah Oates, Carson Jacobs and Sam Guinsatao in their monthly gaming column. (Photograph provided by Megan Alms)

Learn how can a video game teach you lessons about life with (L to R) Tim Pietz, Elijah Oates, Carson Jacobs and Sam Guinsatao in their monthly gaming column. (Photograph provided by Megan Alms)

By Elijah Oates | Contributor

“You died.”

Any player of “Dark Souls” — a 2011 release from FromSoftware — will see those two words often. The game takes place in a fantasy world full of sprawling forests, beautiful castles and hellish caverns. The object is simple: explore it all and defeat anything you find along the way.

The problem is “Dark Souls” is punishingly difficult. The simplest enemies can defeat a player with ease. One stray sword swing or missed block can result in an early demise. It is a grueling journey. I, a thoroughly average player, finished the game with 297 deaths, just to put it into perspective.

I am an anxious person. I fear failure in almost everything I do, from exams and schoolwork to athletics and social interactions. It hangs in my mind like a fog that stifles the glow of a street lamp.

Video games are often a victim of this fog. I get anxious when I play games. If I die to a tough enemy, I start to believe I’m not good enough to beat it, so I stop. I leave great games uncompleted because I am afraid of failure.

Then why on earth did I complete “Dark Souls” if I had to fail 297 times to do it?

Dark Souls” taught me failure is okay. The game expected me to die. It seemed as though its sole purpose was to have those two big red words flash across the screen: “You died.”

When I first started playing, it was agony. A game that encouraged failure in order to progress seemed like something I should avoid. But I couldn’t. The deaths piled up, but I never wanted to stop.

I learned to accept death as a mechanic of the game. This allowed me to take each failure and learn from it. Each virtual resurrection was a pinprick of light battling the fog. 297 pinpricks soon turned into a sun.

I was able to adjust to different enemy patterns, practice different methods of attack and defense and ultimately optimize the way I played the game in order to overcome it and achieve victory.

I started “Dark Souls” fearfully. I finished “Dark Souls” ready for more. It took all the anxious fog that clouded my mind and cleared it away.

Failure is a part of being human, and learning from it, rather than running from it, can only serve to strengthen us in almost every facet of life.

I just never thought I’d learn that from a video game.

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