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Why it's OK to suck at games

Alan Rose

Clive Thompson over at Wired wants us to know that thrills can be experienced in defeat when it comes to certain video games. A study conducted by psychologists over in Helsinki (the same place where they produce that hair restoration formula) shows that gamers experience a measure of joy even when failing to complete an objective in a particular game.

While playing Super Monkey Ball 2's bowling mini game, test subjects hooked up to biosensors elicited "positively valenced high-arousal" after rolling gutter balls. In other words, watching a trapped monkey plummet to his death is cool. Thompson validated these results by playing the game himself and experiencing the same loser high.

Is it a sign of good game design when positive feedback mechanisms accompany all possible outcomes, or do these studies simply underscore our ability to laugh at ourselves in the midst of failure? The article also mentions Burnout Revenge and GTA as examples of games that provide pleasure even when you're failing to accomplish your goal. What other games succeed in this way?

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