Oh my! Game is a word that cannot easily be defined since there are many contexts within the word game. However Raph Koster, a game designer and entrepreneur, states in A Theory of Fun for Game Design, that games are, “puzzles to solve, just like everything else we encounter in life” (34). Later he defines fun from games as “solving a puzzle” which lets us learn the game and keep playing it since it makes the brain feel good (40). In conclusion, playing games is solving puzzles that make you feel good.
“Games aren’t just a diversion; they’re something valuable and important” – Raph Koster
However, Super Meat Boy was not a game that always made me feel good.
The game I chose to play is: Super Meat Boy which was developed by Team Meat. The main reason I chose this game was simply because I had heard of the game but had not played it and wanted to use this opportunity to try it out. Raph Koster’s definition of games fits perfectly with this game since the main goal of the game is to save a damsel in distress by solving a unique type of puzzle to save her. The puzzle consists of jumping/avoiding fatal obstacles. If you touch any of the obstacles even remotely, the level is restarted and you have to do everything again. The main villain of this game is Dr. Fetus, who abducts Bandage Girl because for some reason, he hates Meat Boy and wants to take his lover from him. Each time you solve these puzzling obstacles, you reach Bandage girl but Dr. Fetus comes and teleport her to a new place. Then you go to a new level with new obstacles. The game requires fine tuning and good timing because as you pass levels, the difficulty starts increasing.
Overall, I’d like to say that I enjoyed myself playing this game because when you would do a level for 50 times and finally finish, you would receive a piece joy for being done. However, there were many times that I thought I would quit playing in the 2 weeks that I played this game for. Raph Koster explains that the brain, “craves new data, new data is all it needs to flesh out a pattern”(42). This can be applied to my experience of certain levels in the game. I would play one level so many times that I would get bored and want a new level to play because I would get so tired of the one I was on. I did realize that if you are persistent and keep trying, you eventually finish the level and feel accomplished afterwards. Then your brain gets new data in the form of a new level. In accordance to Raph Koster’s definition of fun, I did have fun with this game up until I would get stuck on a level which in turn would be unjoyable for me and I would rage multiple times.
The game consists of over 300 levels and I do not think I would ever finish this game. I strongly believe that I would get too frustrated, get bored and stop playing. Raph Koster states, “the definition of a good game is one that teaches everything it has to offer before the player stops playing”(46). In accordance to this definition, I do not consider Super Meat Boy a good game since there are too many levels and extras to do for my patience. For example, in almost every level there is bandage that needs to be acquired and you have to finish the level after you acquire it or you lose it if you die. During the whole time I played, I tried my hardest not to get these bandages because I would’ve stayed stuck in a level for much longer than I needed to, and eventually get bored. However, as a goal for myself in the future, I would reach as far as my friends have reached, just to have a type of small win for myself. The game includes chapters and when I first played the game, I finished the first chapter in the first 20 minutes that I played. I thought, “this is way too easy, give me more!”, so I moved to the next chapter where things started getting a lot more difficult and some might say, too difficult for my taste.
In conclusion, Raph Koster defines fun as, “fun is just another word for learning”(46). I believe that I learned throughout playing the game. Every time a new obstacle or monster would pop up, I would learn how to avoid it. In each level I would have a set path that I would take to reach my final destination. As the difficulty increased, I would learn new paths and eventually evolve my way of thinking that I had previously. I learned when to jump and how to slide at the right time. There is portals that take you to other dimensions where you play different characters. I learned how to play those characters and learned their perks and their cons for my benefit. Whilst I was learning, I was also having a fun and I was enjoying myself. When I would finish a level really quickly, I would be proud of myself and the same goes to all the levels that took me ages to finish. As I would get challenged by new obstacles, I kept learning. This game might not be a game I finish completely, or get all of the achievements but it is a game I will play when I am bored and are in the need of a challenge. I give this game a 7/10 pieces of meat.
Koster, R. (2013). Theory of fun for game design. ” O’Reilly Media, Inc.”.