Gamers need to lose more often.
It used to be games were made to kill their players. In Missile Command, your efforts were futile. Those missiles would not stop coming. In Defender, aliens could blow up the planet and humanity would cease to be. In the PS4 launch title Resogun, killing things means blowing up the city.
Humanity is down to a select few, trapped in barriers and awaiting rescue. Fail to save them, and the species is one nearer to extinction. By the time sentient robots have had enough and drop a boss battle, doom is certain. Blow it up to progress to the next city, and what remains of the current location dazzles in a masterful display of voxel technology. Somewhere in this blow-up is my ship:
Realizing a loss of all life almost seems worth it to witness this ridiculously brilliant display of next-gen tech.
When games force us to lose, there is more pressure. As opposed to pushing forward under the idea of seeing something new, players frantically attempt to extend their sessions just to keep playing. There are no promises of rendered cinematics or splashy gore. Losing is stressful but also poses the ultimate challenge of endurance. How long can anyone take a rush of never ending foes?
Resogun does split into levels. It technically has an end, although it still means the species is in poor shape and their homes no longer exist. Desolation is rarely beautiful, but getting there sure is.
I keep going to back to Resogun in the face of NBA 2K14, Battlefield, Call of Duty, Knack, and more. It’s too refreshing to know that even if I succeed, there are no winners. The world is doomed and I’m picking up the pieces. Lots of pieces. So many pieces.
And it’s beautiful.