Git Gud

8 May 2024 • PersonalWeblogPoMo

I play games for fun. Besting a difficult challenge adds to that fun for me.

Dark Souls is a great example. If you’re not a gamer, Dark Souls is a brutally hard series of games that has spawned an entire genre (Souls-likes) that is defined by incredibly challenging boss fights, as well as the ability to lose your currency if you die before recovering it from your previous death. I remember streaming Dark Souls 3 when it came out, and I had a death counter going; pretty sure I was nearing 300 deaths before I was halfway through the game.

There’s something about that personal, mano a mano challenge you get from tough single player games that makes you want to keep coming back and finish it. When that feedback loop is juuuust right, it can really suck you in.

It’s a completely different story when it comes to multiplayer games. The challenge there is all about who you face off against, and the wide variety of skill levels from game to game make it a really weird experience. You can go all night playing against opponents you’re better than and winning, and sometimes it feels awesome; other times it’s just boring. Sometimes you can go multiple games in a row playing opponents that are so much better than you, and it can be wildly frustrating.

I think there’s a lot of sunk cost fallacy built in to how I feel about multiplayer games too; if I spend 30 minutes playing a match against someone, and it sucks, I got nothing from that. Conversely, I could beat my head against a boss in a single player game multiple times, and feel like I’ve learned things, or accomplished something, or made it to the next phase of the fight enough times that I go “ok just one more try”.

It didn’t always used to be this way for me; I spent hours playing Call of Duty, League of Legends (Teemo top or Vi jungle), and World of Warcraft (holy paladin, shadow priest, or arcane mage) in competitive/collaborative settings for the better part of a decade. The fun of competing against other people usually outweighed the frustrations of inconsistent challenge levels. But the older I got, the more and more those frustrations would really eat at me, and make me grumpy, both while I was gaming and away from my computer or console.

Since V was born, I’ve made efforts to not play any games that I can’t pause and put down. I never know when I’m going to have time to play, and I want to have things I can drop in and out of at a moment’s notice.1 This has been great, and every time I’ve tried revisiting a multiplayer game over the past couple of years, it just will not stick; I’ll have fun for a couple of hours, realize I don’t have the time to devote to “git gud” at it, and bounce.

With age comes arthritis, grey hairs, taxes, and occasionally wisdom. I’d like to think me learning what works for me nowadays as far as my free time goes is me being wiser. Or tired. Maybe both. Even if I had free time available to me, I don’t think I’d try and return to multiplayer challenges anymore. Even a quick dip to see what’s changed makes me go “ugh” nowadays. I may never “git gud” anymore… but honestly, I think I’m ok with that.

  1. I’ve been playing through Hollow Knight during this vacation; I’m pretty sure I’m about to go face off against the final boss. What a treat this game has been.