The Art of Failure: An Essay on the Pain of Playing Video Games


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The Art of Failure: An Essay on the Pain of Playing Video Games

The Art of Failure An Essay on the Pain of Playing Video Games We may think of video games as being fun but in The Art of Failure Jesper Juul claims that this is almost entirely mistaken When we play video games our facial expressions are rarely those of happi

  • Title: The Art of Failure: An Essay on the Pain of Playing Video Games
  • Author: JesperJuul
  • ISBN: 9780262019057
  • Page: 484
  • Format: Hardcover
  • We may think of video games as being fun, but in The Art of Failure, Jesper Juul claims that this is almost entirely mistaken When we play video games, our facial expressions are rarely those of happiness or bliss Instead, we frown, grimace, and shout in frustration as we lose, or die, or fail to advance to the next level Humans may have a fundamental desire to succWe may think of video games as being fun, but in The Art of Failure, Jesper Juul claims that this is almost entirely mistaken When we play video games, our facial expressions are rarely those of happiness or bliss Instead, we frown, grimace, and shout in frustration as we lose, or die, or fail to advance to the next level Humans may have a fundamental desire to succeed and feel competent, but game players choose to engage in an activity in which they are nearly certain to fail and feel incompetent So why do we play video games even though they make us unhappy Juul examines this paradox In video games, as in tragic works of art, literature, theater, and cinema, it seems that we want to experience unpleasantness even if we also dislike it Reader or audience reaction to tragedy is often explained as catharsis, as a purging of negative emotions But, Juul points out, this doesn t seem to be the case for video game players Games do not purge us of unpleasant emotions they produce them in the first place What, then, does failure in video game playing do Juul argues that failure in a game is unique in that when you fail in a game, you not a character are in some way inadequate Yet games also motivate us to play , in order to escape that inadequacy, and the feeling of escaping failure often by improving skills is a central enjoyment of games Games, writes Juul, are the art of failure the singular art form that sets us up for failure and allows us to experience it and experiment with it The Art of Failure is essential reading for anyone interested in video games, whether as entertainment, art, or education.

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    One thought on “The Art of Failure: An Essay on the Pain of Playing Video Games

    1. Laurens Dubuisson on said:

      Although Juul's style of writing is easily accessible and he makes a few poignant observations about why we play games and the importance of failing a game every once in a while, I feel he keeps going round in circles and being very repetitive about conclusions he already made clear in his introduction.

    2. Julie Iskander on said:

      It is an interest read into what game really mean and how we perceive and act towards different types of successes and failures. As the concept of failure in games is so much more different than in real life, I wonder do children who grew up in the age of video games, who new reality only through games, have a distorted perception of success and failure in real life. Do this present us with a psychological issue in the millennium generations? The book was a nice ride that raise more questions in [...]

    3. Fabio Bracht on said:

      O ponto central de The Art of Failure é o que autor chama de “paradoxo da falha”. É assim:1. Não gostamos de falhar.2. Evitamos contato com aquilo de que não gostamos.3. Somos atraídos por videogames, apesar do fato de que certamente falharemos neles, pois isso é parte vital de jogar.Esse não é um pensamento surgido com os jogos eletrônicos, mas sim uma variação do painful art paradox, que examina nossa relação com qualquer tipo de arte que nos causa sensações ruins, repulsa, [...]

    4. Margaret on said:

      Officially the end of the occasionally witty but fatally unproductive battle between the ludologists and the narratologists for the high ground in video game scholarship. Juul, the ludologist himself, has always been my favorite game theorist even though I am heavily invested in the narrative side of things, and here he links games and tragedy. Marie-Laure Ryan said it couldn't be done, and Juul calls booyah, using everything at hand, including literary theory, and writing in the crisp, jargon-f [...]

    5. Patrick on said:

      (note: the following was intended to be about both this book and the game Until Dawn, but it ended up being much more about the latter than the former [which I liked, but have little more to say about]. A version of the following with images can be found, as usual, on my blog.)'The Art of Failure: An Essay on the Pain of Playing Video Games' is a short book by Jesper Juul that examines why failure is such a valuable aspect of games, and considers why something which is widely considered to be an [...]

    6. Nicholas Zacharewicz on said:

      Jesper Juul's The Art of Failure is indeed a short book. But it is also a long essay. And I mean that with emphasis on the "long". After finishing this book I was left wondering what the point of its various sections was. Yes, those sections helped to organize Juul's ideas, and yes, they gave him room to explain those ideas. But none of those sections involved much exploration. It seemed, on the one hand, that these sections were used in the place of lengthy footnotes. On the other hand, though, [...]

    7. Marcos Faria on said:

      Só não ganha as cinco estrelinhas porque é um pouco repetitivo: na introdução o autor esboça as formas de analisar o tema (e nisso já diz quase tudo), depois esmiúça cada uma delas num capítulo, e no fim ele resume tudo que já havia dito. Mas vale muito como uma reflexão sobre a o fracasso e a dor na experiência estética. Principalmente, vale pela única coisa que a conclusão acrescenta: não adianta bancar o moderninho da gamificação e sair aplicando técnicas de jogos na vida [...]

    8. Adrian Fridge on said:

      While video games are the focus, the core basis for this essay is the psychology behind failure and why we choose to do something we know we'll fail at. I'd go as far as to say the video games merely support the point.This was an enjoyable read with simple language and explanations. I could give this to someone who never played video games and they'd be able to follow along; non-video games are included in the discussion (Monopoly anyone?). The author breaks down all the philosophy and psycholog [...]

    9. Ruth Toner on said:

      Short but insightful book on the use of failure and negative emotions as a narrative and gameplay device in video games. I am particularly appreciative of the fact that the writing is largely descriptive in its pronouncements rather than saying "Games should be like this!" or "Games will never be able to do this!" (Something the author probably picked up from previously stating that games would not be able to produce anything like a tragic story!) The book is a few years old now, but I'd be curi [...]

    10. Andrew Brown on said:

      A rather prosaic approach to analyzing a particular aspect of video gaming, that being, why do so many people enjoy something that is predicated on making the player inevitably fail. Juul offers no concrete answers, but merely a spread of suggestions from a variety of fields (particularly psychology and game theory). The analysis can become a little redundant in places, and in the penultimate chapter the topic may even be wandered away from briefly as Juul, the pre-eminent ludologist that he is, [...]

    11. Thomas Hale on said:

      A short book, but equal parts entertaining and thought-provoking. Juul talks about failure and the pleasures of tragedy in videogames, drawing on everything from ludology to philosophy to Hamlet, and it really works for me as a whistle-stop tour of relevant theory. I'm not sure I fully subscribe to Juul's point of view, particularly with regard to player/character agency, but it's well worth checking out if you have even a passing interest on why we enjoy games.

    12. Julian on said:

      This was an interesting little essay. It makes some useful distinctions, particularly the idea of games of skill/chance/labor. The author spends perhaps a little too much time on tragedy in games, which I didn't feel was really at the core of of the matter. It stops short of proposing much in the way of firm conclusions, but makes a great starting point for a serious discussion of challenge in videogames.

    13. Jordi de Paco on said:

      A super interesting read on failure in games. It is a pleasure to read in depth on such a specific topic. It allowed me to think over the meaning and power behind the experience of failing. I'll treasure for sure the insights on this commonly overlooked aspect of game design. Plus It's a very easy read (I read it over 2 days while travelling) so I highly recommend it.

    14. Irene on said:

      “Games have become easier, and therefore we fail more.”Juul has a wonderfully clear style, and raises some interesting points which he illustrates well. For such a short book it is rather repetitive, though.

    15. Ninakix on said:

      interesting book on failure in games, and conversely, how we define success in games, as well as our expectations in terms of what we get out of games and the way we relate to them & their protagonists. Dull in places, interesting in others.

    16. Jan Argasiński on said:

      Interesujące. Przyjemnie napisane ale nie wychodzi poza kompilację i komentarz do rzeczy powszechnie znanych. Do przeczytania wmiędzyczasie.

    17. Ellen on said:

      A very interesting essay about failure in video games, with some useful ideas about failure in other contexts. Failure as a learning experience.

    18. Tom Kline on said:

      An compelling treatise on an element of game studies (and, by extension, real life) that provides some insight into our mind-boggling love/hate relationship with challenge and difficulty.

    19. Micah on said:

      This book is a look at failure and why games give us a safe place to learn and fail. We want to believe it does not matter but it matters to us and we strive to become better.

    20. Mauricio Sarmet on said:

      Interesting point of view about failure and its implications. As a social psychologist, I missed some relevant topics concerning the impact (or absence of) of playing games on players. In spite of that, the book is very easy to read and, as I said before, presents an interesting content for game researchers.

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