Since video games have significantly lower stakes than real-world decisions, I am, as a rule, happy to be a reckless fool in them. Eager, even. Many times, this has led to me being a complete and total bonehead. Given the option between a sensible solution to a problem that requires a little planning and a very stupid, overly complicated one, I will often elect to be an idiot.
Not that long ago, I was playing Dragon Quest Builders 2, looking for a cabin I knew was atop a mountain. After racing through a bog, I found said mountain. From its base, I looked up at its cube-y crags and thought, yeah, I can take this. Thus began the most annoying platforming challenge I’ve undertaken in a video game for some time.
Playing on the Nintendo Switch, I had to make precise jumps with the imprecise Joy-Con, carefully placing new blocks to make new platforms when the natural construction of the mountain didn’t give me one. I had to break those blocks and place them again when I fell back to the base of the mountain and found my blocks were now in my way. I had to fight monsters that tried to zap me with electricity, which also knocked me off. I fell from the very top, twice.
I never made the climb, because after 20 minutes of trying, I decided to finally work my way around the base of the mountain and saw that there was a damn path I could’ve just strolled right up.
Someone (I think it was Warren Ellis, the writer) once articulated a friend’s ass-backwards methods as having accidentally driven a nail into a plank by falling on it with their hand, and now they just think that’s how nails work. It’s a terrible metaphor, and I’m horrified at how often I relate to it. It is an extremely human impulse to find the least efficient method for solving the most basic problems—it is so human that entire industries have been formed around it, like health insurance, or buying a cell phone.
Was I really going about getting to the cabin the wrong way, though? Video games, I am told, are all about player choice! So I should be able to get to this cabin my way, and in doing so, exhibit some very unhealthy attitudes also present in our modern culture!
At the very least, I am probably much better at climbing in this game than you are.