I am so stuck on a video game right now. Should I rage quit, read a walkthrough or just cry out to the Internet via random forums to help me?
Each of those ideas presents problems to me as a gamer. Rage quitting is usually beneath me as a lady. Walkthroughs are only for use when I need to get through a game quickly for work purposes. And asking the Internet for help – particularly on puzzle games where there's no way to give hints without just telling you the solution – just feels wrong.
Obviously, my circumstances are different from the average gamer's because I have publicists for many games on speed dial. However, I don't like to abuse these connections when I'm playing a game for fun and not for review purposes. So instead, I usually stick to a ritual of behavior.
First, I pause the game during the part where I'm stuck. It could be a bum boss battle, a room where I can't figure out how to progress or at a point where I have no idea what I'm supposed to be doing or where I'm supposed to go. I'm the level-headed type, so I assume that this must be a case of user-error. Maybe I need to review my stats or my gameplay objectives and make sure I'm not under-leveled or something. This solved my stuck problem during that level with the train in Valkyria Chronicles.
If that doesn't work, I usually double back in the game to look for a special item or grind my level up in the case of bum boss fights. I usually don't have to do this because I'm a completion-obsessed gamer who searches every area, breaks every crate and fights every random encounter just for the experience points. But, hey, sometimes I missed a crate – sometime I forget to check the shops for all the armor upgrades. So maybe being stuck really is my fault. This tactic resolved an ugly boss fight in Tales of Vesperia – you know, the one with the demo boss only he's way harder in the retail game? And you can't go back and grind very much because the road is cut off?
Above: Sometimes, it's not your fault...
The third time, though, I stop blaming myself and indignation sets in. Why would they make a game this hard? How could I possibly have missed whatever it is I need to get past this point? What is wrong with the developers that they make something I can't figure out? This is a dangerous line of thinking because it's a small step away from a rage quit unbecoming of a lady. It also has way of contaminating the rest of my opinion of the game. Which is why I never finished the first Modern Warfare on Xbox 360 (stupid barn mission with the tanks – why don't you shoot them, Price, while I try not to die for the millionth time!).
The final part of my ritual is to quit the game – not rage quit, mind you; just a normal save and quit – and sleep on it preferably ‘til a Saturday morning. Then I come back to it while in my jammies with some cereal, the same way I played many a video game on Saturday morning as a child. It calms me down, gives me a fresh perspective and reminds me that games are supposed to be fun. This totally saved my experience with Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (I hate you, Vamp – die in a fire).
There are exceptions and games that totally defeated my ritual, of course. I broke down and used a walkthrough on The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time after two and half years of wasted Saturday mornings ($%#&ing Water Temple!); I also looked up a puzzle solution in Puzzle Quest because I really wanted to capture a Wight or something and just couldn't figure it out.
But for gamers out there like myself who sometimes hit a wall with games we love (or would love to try and love), I ask you: How do you deal with being stuck?