Failing at everything

It’s 3am. I’m crouching; “hidden”, the game tells me, from the Jackal Gang member who’s standing about forty yards from me. I’m being extra-cautious this time; I’ve quick-loaded the game to this point twice already. I am not about to get owned by him again. He’s broad-shouldered but his armour is flimsy. I should be able to land an instant crit on him from stealth, and then he’ll be cake.

He wanders behind a bush. I ready my rifle, look down the sight a couple of times, move a couple of feet to my right for a better vantage point and –


The landmine, wedged under a plastic traffic cone that’s rather conspicuous in this post-apocalyptic wonderland, should have been obvious to me. Instead, it’s blown both my legs off and taken me to a sliver of my health. Oh, and it’s alerted the gang member too. All he has is a shitty knife, and he tears into me with aplomb. I’m can’t raise my rifle again before I’m killed, and the camera spins jubilantly about my lifeless body.


I don’t get it. Did I miss some crucial beginners’ tutorial in Fallout: New Vegas that has rendered me completely unable to progress beyond a mile of the starting town?

“You might want to stack more intelligence,” my brother suggested helpfully. He probably meant well, but my mind was dully fixed on the prospect that I was somehow lacking it, perhaps in more areas of life than just gaming.

The monotonous motions of dying, the blockheaded urge to keep getting up only to be knocked off my feet again – this is a little what real life’s been feeling like lately. If past experiences are anything to go by, my more negative periods are bred from listlessness, with perhaps a combination of the stuff that goes wrong that you just can’t help. For one thing, I’ve seen more specialist medical professionals in the past fortnight than I can count on, well, half a hand. I’m in the second week of the university semester and already in the habit of skipping classes. Being there makes me feel rather idle, and truth be told, I can stay at home and be idle in bed far more comfortably. As I luxuriate in my idleness, my head fills with grand ideas, great fleeting thoughts that devastatingly dissipate before they reach the glaring white screen space that is Microsoft Word.

This is the point where I usually pick up a controller and lose myself in a virtual world for an hour (or seven). Anything from Uncharted 2 to Peggle can make things right again. Because when real life fails you, at least games provide an alternative in which you are always entertained and often even heroic while doing so – right?

But now, as my character falls again and again in New Vegas, I wonder if not even gaming can offer an escape to a world where I might actually be good at something.


So I’m feeling a little hopeless as I draw the curtains and quick-load my game for the third time. I’m formulating new strategies: maybe explosives will work this time? Yeah, just as well as turning and running back to town where I can ensconce myself in the safety of tumbleweeds and cheerful hillbilly robots, maybe. I’m beginning to think I’ll never get past this bit of the game. But as my character’s body falls beneath the gang member’s blade once again, I think, hey, at least failing repeatedly here is better than doing so in the real world.


6 thoughts on “Failing at everything

  1. reminds me an awful lot of starting out and robbing a citizen of the imperial city in cyrodill only to have the merciless lawmen converge on me and stab me til I’m dead in the elder scrolls iv.
    and yeah, you keep trying to get back up but the mechanics of the game means that this happens at an extremely slow pace while the enemy decimates you further.
    but that’s not really what this entry is about, is it.
    you just have to take comfort in the fact that as you get stronger and stealthier and better equipped, it becomes hard to remember how such things got the better of you earlier on. if we put in the same kind of work as we do into levelling up, will life theoretically become easier to negotiate and more rewarding…?

    • Yes. I’m sure it would. Not that I would know about it firsthand.

      I picked up a nice toy in New Vegas – what they call a “follower”. He’s a tough guy with a bitter history; he one-shots enemies for me! Apparently, he can stay with me till the end of the game, and he does not die either. Now I complain instead about how the game is too easy, coddling noobs like myself.

  2. Oh man, the beginning of this post is very much how Halo feels for me, except change “Jackal Gang member” to “my own team member.” There’s a reason I usually avoid FPSs – I’ve been traumatized.

    Sounds like life’s rough right now :/ I hope whatever reason you’ve been visiting medical specialist turns out to be minor and that everything’s okay.

    You could try starting a project that you can work on in classes where you feel like you’re wasting time by sitting there. I used to write most of my short stories for my creative classes during science and math class lol. Or I would study a language or draw or something. Really, I just used my boring classes as study hall – I’m productive in boring classes in ways I can’t be at home.

    But I totally relate to using video games as a sort of escapism or way to feel cooler when I’m not on a winning streak in real life. There’s a lot of comfort in being able to kick enemy ass in a virtual world when you can’t get away with something like that in our world without legality issues. Don’t get too bummed if you’re struggling with Fallout. Eventually you’ll either get past that part or you could try something new all together – same goes for real life. Try to stay positive. :)

    • Thanks, Dev! In hindsight, I probably am pretty negative. Man, I really need to do more yoga, get outside, chill the eff out, etc.

      I do a lot of whinging about university, but like you, I find it an awesome way of being productive. Things I put off doing during holidays suddenly becomes a form of procrastination in itself! It’s probably true, what people say about stress producing the most creative activity in a person.

      Of course, in a perfect world I’d still be playing New Vegas all day, no matter how much it tries to depress me ;)

      • Haha you and me both, really. I’m starting to think I need to look into meditation. And don’t get me wrong, I find a lot of productive energy in my boring classes, but when I hit a creative block, you’d just as soon find me sitting in the back banging my head against the desk if I went against my better judgment and chose not to skip. (This really happens WAY too often. Who the hell takes attendance in college?)

        I actually graduated already, but I’m continuing classes for writing, so I don’t have to sit in on too many boring ones anymore. Which just makes it even worse when I get into a slump – nothing like wanting to give up on your main study of interest. *sigh*

        Just something to get through, though, eh? I daydream of being famous and successful someday, doing interviews about my hard start and struggling through my twenties hahaha. ^_^;;

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