Am I Playing Wrong? (Confessions of a Non-Gamer)

I’m writing this post because I don’t play video games. The only game I can remember playing is Spyro on PS1 when I when I was in middle school (I’ll let you figure out how old I am) . I’m barely even a casual gamer–I did play a little Candy Crush and Fruit Ninja when they first came out,  but the novelty quickly wore off and I don’t think I’ve played a game since. I decided to take this class to introduce me to this media form in a new way, but I have to say, it’s been a little stressful. The way I hear people talk about video games in class isn’t the way I experience them, so I’ve begun to wonder…am I playing video games wrong? Is this even possible?

I’m thinking about our class discussions on freedom, choice, and narration. Most people expressed delight at the choice of being able to go against the narrator. Having a multitude of options that influence the game’s narrative and outcomes seemed to excite most people–but it’s not the same for me. I’ve enjoyed all the games we’ve played thus far in the course (Papers, Please, Thomas Was Alone,  Undertale, LIM), but my experience playing them was sometimes frustrating. I didn’t quite know what to do because there wasn’t a narrator telling me how to play. As I came across options, I was intimidated. I wonder what I should do or what should be happening and what would make the game most exciting. I’m always second-guessing my choices and wondering if I took the “fun” option? When I was playing Undertale and couldn’t pass the potholes, I wondered if I was doing something wrong or if everyone had this same experience playing the game. When I chose to flee or fight the bosses I asked myself if this would result in the most rewarding gameplay. I sometimes feel uncomfortable with the amount of control I have in some games because I don’t know if I’m playing the “right” way, if there even is one. Often, when I get to class and hear other people’s experiences with the same game, I’m shocked because it seems like they played something entirely different. This makes me wonder even more if I’m playing wrong. I’m not sure if I just need to explore more kinds of games, or just get comfortable with being in control of a story. For now, though, I keep asking–am I doing this right?


4 thoughts on “Am I Playing Wrong? (Confessions of a Non-Gamer)

  1. It is very interesting reading about how you have experienced these games as someone who is not a “gamer”. Going based off of what you said, in my opinion your lack of experience in playing games has helped you play the best way. Your sense of intimidation when faced with various options probably reflects the way the protagonists in the games are feeling. For example, in Undertale you are playing a child lost in a foreign land. The stories the protagonist has heard about monsters (in a world where they are disliked by humans), if they have heard any, combined with their first experience with a monster (Flowey’s trick in the beginning) probably has them feeling intimidated with the “fight or spare” choices as well. Similarly, in Papers, Please, the protagonist is forced into their job at the border, and the choices they make on the job are their own. To summarize, I feel like you are playing the best way because, just like the players in the game, the choices and lack of direction are intimidating and nerve racking for you.


  2. I don’t think there’s really one right way of playing a game. Everyone has different styles in which they play a game. They have different opinions about it and play through it differently. There is really no wrong way to play a game, so don’t feel like you are playing it wrong! Have fun with it, in terms of what you think the funnest way to play is! After reading your experience of playing the games, I agree with you in that some of the games we have played, such as Undertale and Papers, Please, have been frustrating since there is no narrator that tells you what to do. However, I think that’s part of the fun part: to figure things out for yourself. I think the more control you have in a game, the more fun it can be since there are so many choices and paths you can take.


  3. The beautiful thing about a lot of games is that there is no true “right” way of playing. They don’t necessarily need to have a goal, and there’s no one to disappoint. Games are not really much different from any other medium: they exist as a way to communicate feelings and provide entertainment (at the simplest level). I have also been stressed before from thinking that I’m playing something incorrectly, but then I zoom out and realize that if I’m playing it, than its correct. The game is meant to be played, and how you personally play it doesn’t truly matter, in my view.


  4. First off, I really like, and agree with, the points that each one of you make. Quickly summarizing what has been said – there is no one “correct” way to play video games and being inexperienced in playing games can actually be a positive. Personally, I feel that the ultimate goal of this medium is to provide any sort of entertainment that keeps the player engaged. Whether this amusement comes from playing the game correctly or “incorrectly”, it does not matter. As long as one can feel entertained, than the type of gameplay is irrelevant. And for Bees moving forwards, I would say try to focus less about the control you possess in these games and focus more about the results of these choices. Being comfortable with this control could definitely help enhance your experience while playing. Just be aware that there isn’t a right way to play these games and that you are paying correctly.


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