If you’ve worked in any capacity, be it a job or a creative outlet, then no doubt you’ll have experienced the apathetic mindset of being unmotivated. The continuous cry for lack of motivation can be heard in factories, classrooms, offices and even bedrooms around the world, desperate for something to give them the motivation to continue. Yet things are different when we are playing a video game and are greeted by the words ‘GAME OVER’.
No matter your favourite genre of game, you will have encountered this message at some point. All of that time, energy, mental gymnastics and finger dexterity invested, only to be met with an emotionally detached screen highlighting your failure. But no matter, we just press a little button and keep on going, letting go of the internalised rage and replacing it with yet more gleeful joy and attention.
By pressing retry we have the motivation to continue further on and overcome the obstacles cleverly designed to impede our progress. In those circumstances we find it easy, but when we are met with similar messages of failure in the real world it can seem impossible to stay motivated. But we can still use the experiences we have attained from our video game journeys as a means to find inspiration.
For starters, think about any arcade-style game you’ve played, with distracting colours and leaderboard scores enticing you to try and do better. A modern day example of this format could be Nex Machina, a retro top-down shoot ‘em up. While it makes for a high-octane experience, the speed and difficulty of the obstacles pretty much guarantees a GAME OVER on your first try. This can be frustrating, especially when you are shown the leaderboards containing names of other people who have achieved higher scores than you.
This chaos is comparable to modern day life, with even the most strategic plans going awry in less than a second while others seemingly get by unaffected. But when you give up, you effectively miss your chance to prove what you have learnt from that experience. The only person you need to prove your ability to is yourself. Even if you end up stone dead last, that does not mean you are a failure.
Herein lies what causes a lot of people to get disheartened with their progress, and it is something we’d all do well to remind ourselves of now and then: you are not ‘other people’. If you are fruitlessly grasping to achieve higher up the “leaderboard” without taking the time to congratulate yourself on your progress, you will always feel empty inside. Each attempt at a new project is not supposed to always be met with a perfect result. 99% of your efforts will be a learning curve more than anything, and with each new discovery comes insight into how you can improve.
Perhaps you improved a skill, learnt a new one entirely, or even managed to do the same thing a little bit quicker. If you’ve tried to attain something multiple times and not succeeded yet, ask yourself: what can be done to make your next attempt more successful? Only you can really determine what you want to improve in, but viewing each attempt as an experience rather than a failure can make retrying that one difficult level seem much more doable.
However, sometimes you’ve re-tried a level over and over without yielding any progress, and are desperate for a solution. So what can be done? Most will agree that asking someone else for help is of great benefit, especially if they have experienced that before. Therefore, another way of ensuring you can stay motivated when facing these adverse circumstances is surrounding yourself with a community full of encouragement and support.
Most video games are examples of this; no matter their age or origin you can find at least one other person who likes the same game as you. One game considered the epitome of this concept is Undertale, identifying itself as “The friendly RPG where no-one has to die”. Where other RPGs have expendable characters and enemies, Undertale encourages the power of friendship when you and/or your friends are going through struggles. Similarly, just talking out a problem with someone you trust is often enough to calm down and think about things more clearly. It can be daunting to reach out in these times of need, which is why finding a group of like-minded individuals is a great benefit because you’ll naturally have a shared interest.
Also, a recurring theme is the usage of “DETERMINATION”, which even appears as a motivation to the player upon reaching a game over screen. Every time you lose the game attempts to instil a force of motivation through you. By remembering that a GAME OVER is an invitation to keep playing and better yourself, you can rise to the challenge and keep coming back until you can proudly declare yourself a winner.
Another commonplace example is in the modern era of gaming, where small streamers are doing their bit to combine their personality and video game endeavours in a way that is appealing to others. Despite this, some may feel disheartened due to their relatively small status. This could include a low yield of viewing figures or a tiny community that they wish to expand. It is easily tempting to try and invest their time into a ‘Small Streamers’ community, but these benefits are usually short term.
It is not the size of your community that matters; the connections you make have far greater benefits for you not just as a streamer but as a person. Don’t underestimate the power that a positive word can have to someone who needs it, and by doing so you can strengthen the ties you have in your circle of friends regardless of its size. Making content for a comparatively small number of friends who genuinely enjoy your work will build love and support for what you do. These serve as a greater motivator than tallying up numbers.
By now I’m sure you can tell the difference between re-try and re-triumph: just a little bit of “umph”! Learn the lessons from video games and see every low point as a chance to retry and do even better until you achieve the victories you desire. If you’re feeling in short supply of motivation, reach out to your friends and communities for support and offer to do the same where possible. Whatever the rest of this year has in store for us, don’t give up. Keep on trying and retrying until you reach that goal, and remember to stay determined!
Ruby Modica is an independent content creator, editor and writer.
She loves sharing insight into video games and discovering new things, with a desire to work in the media/gaming industry full time. Most days she is busy at her computer working on her next big project.