Dying A Lot Can Be “Fun”

 

Super Meat Boy is a platform game where you control Meat Boy, a red cube of meat. The main purpose of the game is to save your girlfriend, Bandage Girl, who was kidnapped by Dr. Fetus. On each level, you must avoid traps and things that can kill you while trying to reach the end represss_2482dad154fa38c32195a5301891ec7d9cefa7da-600x338ented with Bandage Girl. I actually bought this game when it was on sale years ago, but I never really put time into the game as I don’t really enjoy platformers. They’re usually too difficult for my liking. When I started the game, I fooled around with the keys and watched as trails of blood would drop as I moved my character around. The gameplay seems simple enough, move around, jump, and avoid things to get the end and save the girl. The first few levels were simple and easy to beat because it tries to teach you the mechanics of the game. Obviously, as the game progressed the levels got harder and you had to coordinate your actions better.

Caillois defines play as an activity which is essentially: free, separate, uncertain, unproductive, governed by rules, and make-believe. Super Meat Boy is a game we can play that fits into all those categories. I can play whenever I choose and it’s not real. It has it’s own rules and is separate from reality. As a game, each time you die, you start again from the beginning of the level which is like nearly every game where you restart from the last savepoint. In this case, the save point is only at the beginning of the stage which you are on. As I start getting further in levels, I see myself at the starting point of each level more and more often. I’m waiting and thinking of my next moves more than I am actually playing the game now. I can see myself dying before I even start to move my character and it’s gotten to the point where I want to give up. This is not “fun”but then again, most platform games aren’t fun for me.

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Raph Koster says that “fun from game arises out of mastery. It arises out of comprehension. It is the act of solving puzzles that makes games fun.” I am slowly gaining mastery of this game as I see each level and progress through the mechanics the game decides to throw at me. I’m starting to comprehend the movements of the things that are trying to kill me on each level as I spend time dying to saws or falling into pits. I’m solving each level like a puzzle and surprise, surprise, I’m still not having as much fun as I thought I would be. At this point, I want to stop playing because I’m just stuck on levels and about to bang my head against a wall. Nothing good would come out of continuing this session while I’m heated so I decide to stop and watch videos of people playing the game. I come across many videos of people either raging or having fun. There seems to be no middle ground while playing this game, you either enjoy it or don’t. As I watch the videos, I’m learning how others play and taking that in. I plan on using what I see on my next  and hope it’ll give me better results.

On my last playthrough, I grab a beer because games should be fun and relaxing. I shouldn’t be frustrated every time I die to stupid mechanics that I can avoid. Surprisingly, as I stop thinking about it, the game gets easier and everything feels more natural. I’m breezing through the levels that I used to think were impossible. I think I’m actually having fun now. I can feel myself getting closer to the computer screen as every time I die, I’m just more determined to finish the level. Who would have thought that I just needed to relax and play the game instead of thinking it through. Every time I go splat, the game seems more alluring because I just want to beat the level badly. When I finish asadmeatboy level I’ve been stuck on, I feel so satisfied that continuing to play feels like the best option. In the end, I got to really enjoy the game to my surprise. Almost as surprised as Meat Boy in this picture.
I will definitely play this game again in the near future when I just want to have a good laugh.

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10 thoughts on “Dying A Lot Can Be “Fun”

  1. I also played this game and also agreed with how you said “Caillois defines play as an activity which is essentially: free, separate, uncertain, unproductive, governed by rules, and make-believe” because in this game it is make belief. Meat boy is fictional character trying to save his girl bandage from the menage the Dr Fetus. This game is definitely considered a puzzle like mentioned by Koster, 300 levels of failure and frustration. But dying is part of the fun in the game so that we can try over and try different tactics to achieve the end goal. In the end I agree with you will play this game and beat it eventually, I recommend this game to everyone who wants to be annoyed and have fun while doing it.

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  2. My only problem with the game is that it gets a little repetitive. I didn’t really enjoy it, and I was more annoyed than anything else. I definitely agree with you in that this game shouldn’t really be about strategizing or planning out what the next move should be like in some games. The fun comes from the leisure. The game isn’t really on my list of fun games though. I enjoy more story-based games. Which is part of the reason why fun is so difficult to define. It means different things to different people.

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  3. I played this game as well and thought the continuous dying was incredibly frustrating in the beginning. When I took breaks I definitely executed the actions better. There was something so satisfying about seeing every single attempt at the end of a level. It was almost funny to see how many times you actually attempted the level. Comparing every single attempt against each other was extremely gratifying because you could literally see at what points you learned a new strategy. Watching the final attempt is so rewarding because you can literally see how much you learned and how much you “worked” to get to that point.

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  4. Beer is always a good way to diffuse gamer-rage. I experienced a lot of the frustrations that you outline in this post. Most importantly, I think all the post highlight the difficulty that turns from ease to frustration. As some of the previous commenters have said, this difficulty is the hallmark of this game. While it is certainly annoying, it is a rush of pleasure when you find a way to complete a difficult level. Good to see I was not alone in my frustrations.

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  5. I certainly understand the frustration of continuously losing a game, but like everything we have to be cool and collected when playing a game. Glad you got to enjoy the game!!!

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  6. The game is simple mechanics and difficult execution. I am on the same boat i will definitely play it in the near future outside of class. The dying does get frustrating, but man is it fun beating the level.

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  7. Remember to separate your gameplay journal and your blog entry. You are welcome to draw from one to fill in the other, but you want to encapsulate your notes. Summarize them. Don’t just use chronology. Work on a structure that helps your blog flow. Your point is that the alcohol helped you achieve fun, yes? Well, maybe you should really use that as the core to this post and really use that to interrogate Koster instead of getting to the drunk playing at the end.

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  8. I liked how you were descriptive with the material and honest about your feelings towards the game itself. I’m sorry if this question is tedious, but why is it that you don’t enjoy platform games?

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  9. My initial impression of this game was that dying often was a bit frustrating, so i went and tried it a bit for myself. At times this game really made me think of how i was going to be able to make it through some obstacles. One thing i did not is there more i did the more i was determined to complete the level. It was as if i was motivated by competitiveness and i wasn’t about to let this simple game getter the better of me. This is why i agree with your reference to Koster on fun that comes from mastery of the game as the more i played the more i got used to the controls and my amount of attempts decreased.

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