Experimentation: gaining freedom from failure 

Experimentation is a core element of gameplay, it is what gets us from our skillset before a challenging level to what we are capable after completing it.  Failure grants us freedom if we can learn to see failure as we do in games; not as the end but as a new beginning.  Failure is an important element of gameplay because after failing we, often in frustration, decide to abandon all rational thought and simply attack a problem in the most radical way we can imagine. This sometimes nets small gains and other times illustrates to us that our stubborn attempts at holding onto a solution we felt was the only way ended up being the only thing preventing our success.

Experimentation is a game mode all in itself and requires drastic changes so that we can see dramatic results.  After we have established a foundation for a successful solution we can tweak our process to obtain a desired outcome. The best solutions are often an amalgam of our original strategy and elements of our radical strategies.

The beauty of a well designed game is that it will contain various paths to success, which mirrors how life itself functions.  The optimistic perception that this crazy solution might just get us across the finish line is what drives gamers to keep playing and trying even after failing multiple times.

Nurturing an understanding of failure and experimentation as a healthy exercise for personal growth can help us as we face challenging situations   in the real world.  Using the stress we feel when encountering failure and turning it into fuel for radical change can alter the narrative of our lives from ones full of impossible obstacles to ones full interesting challenges.  That is, if we accept that failure is only the first steps in the cycle of experimentation and inevitable success.


Andrew Mantilla is a ludologist and video game journalist for Play Professor.  You can check out more of his content on Facebook, and Instagram.

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