Sometimes I play video games because I want to zone out and not have to think about anything in particular. For those times, I want a grindy game with steady, predictable progress. Games that, if you step away and examine them at a distance, are perhaps a bit uninteresting.
Actually, I almost never play those games because I will be scrolling through a feed or browsing YouTube instead. Even less investment.
Permadeath games are often seen as a hardcore mechanic suited for hardcore players who can shrug off any loss of progress. Typically it also takes a lot to get these players hyped up. This is directly antithetical to what I like about permadeath games, and if I approach them like a stoic player, why, I might as well be surfing YouTube instead.
I play permadeath games because unlike the epicurean experience of stress relieving rest, I want to be on a Dionysian roller coaster of emotions. I want to feel genuinely triumphant when I win and I want to feel genuinely defeated when I lose. The feeling of triumph and the feeling of defeat are two sides of the same coin because they both depend chiefly on my level of emotional investment.
Certainly I could detach and tell myself "it's just a game" and be in a mentality where I can shrug off losing my best character in Realm of the Mad God or falling all the way down to the bottom in Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy. In this mentality, the game becomes a mundane activity like scrolling through a news feed. Something unmemorable.
My remark about the emotions of triumph and defeat being two sides of the same coin may make it sound like I am endorsing feelings of a defeat as a way of making the feeling of triumph more meaningful, but that is not how I see it, or at least, I would just as readily endorse the feeling of hard-earned triumph as a way of making subsequent feelings of defeat all the more agonising.
So I guess what I am saying is: There is no shame at all in feeling defeated when playing a punishing game or in letting it really get to you. It is no different than people being glued to the screen when watching a sports game or a television drama or being emotionally intoxicated by a Puccini opera or a particularly vivid book. If there's one thing in particular I want to relay, it is that getting invested in a video game is no more or less silly than getting invested in a sports match or a dramatic play – and anyway silliness is vastly underrated in a culture that always encourages you to be a Serious PersonTM doing Serious Things.
There is nothing wrong with being triumphant or heartbroken over a video game. It certainly is silly and all sorts of hilarious and definitely something your non-gamer friends will tease you about. None of that makes it wrong. None of that is even a sign of there being a problem.
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