You can now read 10 articles in a month for free on Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

The Boston Globe



Video games mean losing. So why play?

A new book explores the unique disappointment and promise of ‘game over.’

Playing video games is about chasing victory. In Pac-Man, that means eating as many little dots as possible and avoiding ghosts. In Doom, it means shooting demons. In Super Mario Bros., it means stomping on the heads of evil mushrooms.

But as hard as we try to win, the experience of playing actually tends to be dominated more often by failure, disappointment, and frustration. As we play, we lose, over and over again. We watch Pac-Man deflate, we get mauled by zombies, we fall off cliffs and die. Then, for some reason, we hit “play again.”

Loading comments...

You have reached the limit of 10 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week