The screen goes black and reflects your face of defeat clear as day before flashing back to the start menu.
I love video games.As a gamer, I’m somewhere in between in terms of how serious I am about playing video games. I’m more than your a “sitting on a toilet playing a mobile game” but less than a “never leaving my couch because I’ve been playing for forty-hours straight for a raid or tournament” type player. Call me the semi-casual gamer.
I’m a semi-casual gamer now, but when I was a kid, I was not allowed to be a gamer at all.
I’m the little sister and the youngest of my siblings. So, in terms of sibling “who gets to play” hierarchy, I was never player one or even two. I was player “go sit in a corner and play with your Barbies by yourself.” They even tricked me into not playing with them by taking a baby doll I always carried with me and throwing it out of the room yelling, “Super Baby!” Of course, I fell for it every single time, running out of the room like an idiot thinking her brothers actually wanted to play with her.
Goddamned super baby.
Then, I finally got to step up to the plate after years of watching my brothers battle over who was player one.
My first console system that I actually got games for myself to play was the first Xbox. It was a joint Christmas gift to my brothers and I when I was twelve. The boys got shooting type games, typical for little boys to buy. Me? I got one of the most iconic games of all time, a game that every single tween of the 2000s attempted, but never mastered at every arcade across the globe.
Dance Dance Revolution.
DDR is one of the weirdest games on the planet. It’s one of the original “get off your ass and exercise so you don’t get too fat playing your first person shooter or RPG” games. It takes mental focus and stamina to match those stupid arrows beneath your feet with the arrows on the screen in time with the random J-POP song that was blasting out of the speakers. Coinidently, my best friend at the time also received a console system and DDR as well. Time and time again, we’d traverse over to each other’s houses for a rousing dance battle that could last for hours if we let it.
Honestly, it got a little too competitive at times. I’d often get mad that she was better than me. I legitimately was super pissed because, as a twelve year old, this was a thing that mattered.
Still, gaming became a weird friend making technique for me. My friends and I would go over each other’s house and just play any random game for whatever console was available. We’d laugh at how horrifically bad we were at Halo, never daring to venture online to be yelled at by creepy boys. We’d watch as that one friend who always picks Meta Knight would crush the rest of us in Super Smash Brothers. Of course, we’d all secretly curse each other out for the friendship ruining gems that are Mario Party and Mario Kart. We bonded over buttons, you could say.
Though, making and keeping friends isn’t really why I play games today.
Video games offer me one of the most important lessons I always need to be reminded of: perseverance. Any game beyond something like Candy Crush or The Sims requires skills. Skills that can only be acquired by learning how the game is played. You learn how the game is played by playing it, and unless you are the game designed yourself, you will make a mistake. Then, the game asks you to take another try.
“Start over,” the game screen will read when you fail, and you do every time. This time, you try a little differently. Maybe, it works. Maybe, you’re met with the same screen again, and still you keep trying. Because each time, you learn. You learn what works and what doesn’t. You improve because you keep going, and you’re willing to start over.
These virtual realities are a lot like real reality. Life is full of trial and error. You never really know what’s up ahead or when the next boss battle. It can be an open world, but though you can go back to the places you were, you can never truly go back in time. To progress, you have to move forward, be willing to fall, and learn each time from your mistakes.
Unless, of course, you hit a “Game Over” in real life.
Then, you’re just dead