Gordon Swaby

Failure and Video Games: Redefining Failure

I was a huge gamer growing up.  I loved video games so much that I started a video gaming website, grew it and wrote American video game publishers asking them to send me games to review. That was my strategy for getting the games without buying them. 🙂

 

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When I think of video games that I liked,  Mario 64 (really loved this!) , Killer Instinct (N64 version), Pokemon ( the Gameboy color versions), and Zelda ( game boy color versions) come to mind. In terms of genre, Role Playing Games ( RPGs) were my favorite.  My love for video games and running a video gaming website, I think,  has influenced a large part of who I am today.  What’s the relationship between video games and failure? Hang on, you’ll understand soon.

In Jamaica, and I would imagine in other parts of the world, failure is a very, very bad word.  Nobody wants to fail, nobody wants to be associated with failure. Because if you fail, some may think that you’re inadequate or incompetent and it may limit you in regards to future opportunities.

Here are some definitions for the word failure:

1. lack of success

2. An unsuccessful person or thing

When I think about failure, I think about video games. I recall many hours of my childhood spent playing video games; Mario 64 in particular. Check out the embedded video below to have an idea of what gameplay was like for that game.

I remember that particular level clearly. It’s the level where you had to battle the game’s main antagonist, Bowser. I struggled to defeat Bowser. It was really discouraging when I lost to him and had to start over, but I was determined and I did it over and over and over and over until I got it right. Fifteen years later and I can still breeze through that level with my eyes closed. I didn’t know it at the time, but video gaming taught me the most important thing I could ever have today: grit. What is grit? This article does a good job at explaining it, but this is what it defines grit as “the ability to continue working toward a goal no matter how hard it gets or how long it takes. ”

I mentioned earlier my love for role playing games. There is one thing in particular that I loved most about RPGs. The ability to level up. The concept is simple. Execute a task and you’ll earn points. These points go towards leveling up; i.e. earn the points and you’ll move from level 1, to level 2 to level 3 and so on. Every time you execute a task whether or not you were successful you’d earn experience points. As you level up you become stronger thus making the task easier.

That is, in essence, my metaphor for success and failure. You have the opportunity in this life to learn from your experiences. Things may not go the way you planned, but you would have gotten value from it. The onus is on you to use that experience to do and be better the next time around. You’ve only failed when you think that you haven’t gotten any value from your experience and as far as I’m concerned you can extract value from every experience, both good and bad.

Failure is what you make it and I don’t believe in failing. I’m just gaining experience points to level up.

“I don’t believe in failure, because simply by saying you’ve failed, you’ve admitted you attempted. And anyone who attempts is not a failure. Those who truly fail in my eyes are the ones who never try at all. The ones who sit on the couch and whine and moan and wait for the world to change for them.” – Sarah Dessen

Written by Gordon Swaby

Gordon Swaby

Founder and CEO of social learning service EduFocal.com. I’m passionate about technology, the internet and the use of technology in education. I am a recipient of Governor General’s Youth Award, the PSOJ’s 50 Under 50 Award, The commonwealth Youth Award and many others.


Lovingly made on Friday, December 26th, 2014 at 12:49 am. Filed under Entrepreneurship, Interesting, Personal.

  • Peter Levy

    Nice post. What you learned from video games I learned from playing sports.

  • Arthur Hylton

    I’m glad i found this post. I remember reading about advance-gamers years ago when I was still new to “this internet thing”, but over the years I couldn’t remember the name of it (or where I read about it). Glad you’re still doing great stuff.



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