Frustration in Video Games Is Just Part of the Adventure

frustration in video games cover

I cannot recall if I’ve ever described this phenomenon I have with the more trepidatious moments of a video game’s whole. Briefly, perhaps, I’ve mentioned my leniency towards these moments, but for today, I shall expand upon this topic in the hopes that it may reach you, reader, and you will be able to sympathize with my insanity. That, and it’s become a running joke in the family recently. It’s on the mind and I felt it’d be neat to share a little more of my gaming expectations.

You’re in the middle of a grand adventure game. Controls are tight, challenge is adequate, and every battle is thrilling and fast-paced. To say the game is fun is an understatement; might be among the best you’ve ever played. Then, you get to a certain point, and the game asks you to do something you hadn’t done prior: button input memorization. Press the correct buttons in the correct order, after they flash onscreen once. A single mistake will have the flashing order reset. It’s a far cry from what you’re used to, and instead of the fun, flashy combat system you were once flourishing in, you’re mashing buttons in a specific order like you’re in Guitar Hero. You’re frustrated, you hate it, and you hope it never comes back after this point. For me, that’s just part of the adventure.

frustration in video games 1
Guitar Hero has zero rough patches!

Think of it from a slightly different perspective. You’re on a quest to find a treasure, and along the way, you find yourself at the mercy of a number of traps. Life-threatening traps, mind you. It takes every fiber of instinct and physical strength to surpass them, and in the end, you find the treasure, savoring the reward after all the turmoil. That’s kind of in-line with how I view this mindset of frustration.

Through it all, you end up finding those frustrating bits in video games more memorable to the overall experience. Sure, in the moment they’re not as gratifying as other sequences, yet they create a certain flavor of variety that create an almost myth-like vibe to an experience. Quite often I find myself replaying old games from my youth, and every so often I’ll revisit something that’s a tad more… frightening than others. I’ll think to myself, “Oh, nooooo! I remember this!” and clench myself for the incoming pain. Part of me almost looks forward to it, though, as if it’s an initiation to the rest of the game, which promises to be more satisfying.

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*collective shriek*

To provide an actual example (of a not-old game), I had a great time going through The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The wide-open world, urging you to explore with non-linear progression, was great fun for many hours. Although, there is one notable part of the game that makes me cringe with disdain—the Yiga Clan Hideout. What makes this part of the game so “fun” is that, unless you have some seriously OP weaponry, most of the guards within the site can one-shot you. The game implies for this to be a stealth-based exercise, where you hide behind big boxes and in corners of the room while the beefy guards roam around in circles or whatever other patterns they can come up with. As someone who is far more comfortable blitzing through everything through power and precision, this is not my forté. Every time I combat this part of the game, I always struggle, but it’s just part of the adventure.

To some, they may read up to this point and go, “Hold on. All of this just sounds like you bowing down to arbitrary difficulty patterns. Where’s your spine?” To this, I would argue that the effectiveness of these rough patches within the overall also depends on the quality of said overall. If a game is bad generally, then gets worse from a greater issue of inconvenience, that’s not an adventure; more like a catastrophe. There needs to be far more good to overwhelm the bad, lest the experience cast too far into negative stimuli. The “rough patch” title is appropriate here because it implies only a minor inconvenience spanning a limited amount of time. Kind of like scraping your knee after spending three hours at a carnival.

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Like this game (Incredible Mandy) a lot, but this boss suuuuucked.

I should also stress that this frustrating bit should not occur during the beginning or ending parts of a game. If early, it could taint one’s expectations of the rest of the game and deter them from continuing. If late, it could leave a bad taste in their mouth and soil their overall impressions of the game from recency bias. Should this “part of the adventure” excuse prospect work, it needs to actually be a “part” of the adventure, not the “start” or “end” of the adventure. I can’t recall any game where (aside from a typically difficult final boss) I found myself face-to-face with a frustration that wasn’t around the mid or mid-late point. Well, there was Tennistar

As I can’t think of anything else in need of elaboration, I’ll end the points here. When it comes to frustrating moments or sections in video games, sometimes I can set them aside if they serve as one part of a collective buffet of variety. If there are one or two things I don’t like about a game, at least there are another three to five things that pick up the slack. It’s all part of the adventure, and it’s one that provides far more memories and creates impact, even if they aren’t completely positive. That’s just me, though. My brothers think I’m an idiot.

What games have you had this occur with? I’d love to know some of your own experiences with this.

For more opinion pieces like this, check out the associated archive!

Thank you for your time. Have a great day.

2 thoughts on “Frustration in Video Games Is Just Part of the Adventure

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