[Media Meandry] Getting Over Mistakes

“You’ll think about this at 10pm on Sunday, and you know what, that’s when I think about stuff like ‘if anyone else did this, would they have done the same thing?’ If your girlfriend were in your chair, should she have acted the same way[1]?” In life, I think it’s easy to play ‘the shoulda-woulda-coulda game.’ ‘I should have done this,’’ ‘if only I would have done this,’ or ‘if only I could have…’ Stop.

Get over yourself and get over your mistakes.

It’s fine to feel a sense of mourning over whether your actions directly influenced some situation negatively, but don’t let that guilt pervert your senses. You’ve made a mistake. Can you recover from it? If it’s a situation at work where you’re going to be punished for the mistake, was that punishment reasonable? Was it something like, ‘you swore at someone, so you have to be written up about how your behavior can hurt someone’ where it’s clear there was a mistake?

Or was it more ambiguous?

If you make a mistake and have to start over, then do it.

The ‘new game’ and ‘continue’ buttons are nearly identical in Getting Over It With Bennett Foddy. I clicked the wrong button. Rather than return to what little progress I had made in the same, I started at the beginning. I had just begun to learn the mouse controls, yet here I was, back at the start. What is that but a purely absurdist example of The Myth of Sisyphus?

To push a boulder up a hill only to have it fall back down?

I was initially intrigued to read Monkey because I had heard that Sun Wukong, similarly, would have to relearn all of his old mistakes. I like that sort of imperfect character. Instead, the only flaw The Great Sage, Heaven’s Equal has is that he is, at times, too temperamentally powerful. A character like that can’t truly get over mistakes because he cannot be vulnerable enough to learn from his mistakes so he will just remain as he is throughout the narrative.

I like seeing characters surpass their adversities.

It’s not so much that I like seeing characters or people struggle. I think it’s more about having the admirable qualities of pushing through even when it’s difficult. We can’t always get a perfect run. In this game, the mouse is always just a little more frustrating than it needs to be, not quite precise or responsive enough, leaving to a frustrating gameplay experience I initially rejected. I thought about it more and returned only to figure out that it is a game of skill.

But not gameplay skill, but the skill of developing stress tolerance.

We don’t always get to have an easy time in life. We might occasionally get nice drives into work, and other times, we might be stuck in traffic. We might have to do difficult work needlessly. Our heads might hurt. We might encounter a needlessly stressful situation. How can we learn to respond to such situations where it shoulda worked like that, if only it woulda worked like that, then we coulda had a better outcome?

Just keep on failing.

Eventually, you’ll start failing less. We want to pretend that we won’t fail in life. Maybe this is our perfectionist society where everyone in Hollywood has the perfect hair, makeup, and clothes? I’ve been more into the grunge aesthetic since I first heard about it for its realism. Sure, it was pretentious at times as well, but there was that raw sense of thrifted clothes and greasy hair that felt more natural to me.

In that sense, aren’t we just accepting our mistakes?

For this game, I think I’ll putz through it a little bit every day, just to see if I can build up a tolerance toward screwing up more and more often. If I accidentally click the ‘new game’ button rather than ‘continue,’ again, although I probably will have gone further, it’s more of a skill-acquisition practice, in regards to stress tolerance, than actually getting further along up the mountain. I’ve seen the top of the mountain and some of the gameplay routes.

I’m not playing the game for any sense of speedrunning duties.

I’m more there, like I am with any other stressful adventure, to learn to become better at dealing with stress. Letting the stress wash off over me is better than holding it in, I’ve found, and maybe that’s the trick that others that succeed in other stressful vocations or avocations do? Sure, we all get those Sunday evening flashbacks of regrets. Is it worthwhile? How much of that is too much? Should we punish ourselves for the mistakes we made twenty years ago?

We should be more willing to forgive ourselves for our mistakes.

When Bennett Foddy narrates about how his game shouldn’t be played after a stressful day, but it will be there when the player is ready, I think in that sense it’s an invitation to give it a go. What’s your stress tolerance for some videogame you love? Most likely than one where you don’t quite like it enough to want to try once more. I’ve found, for me, that my best speedruns in life or videogames are where I just throw caution into the wind, let the mistakes fly, and just roll with the punches.

It’s easier to criticize outside the moment than within.

You can watch someone play a videogame and get frustrated with the player for not doing this or doing that, but the question becomes, what would have happened if the watcher becomes the player? Would it have been as obvious? Only through0151 0206bone-headed mistakes can we learn to overcome some adversities, so why should we let it bother us, even if we would have done things differently, because even if we had, the outcome could have been the same? Isn’t the better reward to win repeatedly through ironing out our past mistakes?

Rather than luckily winning?

Quotes: [1] I told a colleague of mine this after he was worried about a mistake he hadn’t really made as much as had been around.
Sources: My personal and professional experiences.
Inspirations: Other than the title of the videogame, I just wanted to jam on mistakes and dealing with them for a while.
Related: Other Media Meandry essays.
Screenshots: In-game, used as reference.
Written On: 2020 January 20 [26 minutes. 1:01am to “Just keep on failing” at 1:18am. From 1:44am to “Only through” at 1:51am. From 2:06am to 2:08am. Gdocs.]
Last Edited: 2020 January 20 [Possible edits adapting from Gdocs to WordPress. Would this be the second draft, then?]
My big goal is writing. My most important goal is writing "The Story." All other goals should work toward that central goal. My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame some fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. I'm not better than you and you're not better than me. Let's strive to be better every day.