Last weekend, I spent hours chasing after a single elusive strawberry in Celeste. Over and over again, I kept dying to the toxic muck surrounding my collectible prize. Hundreds of wasted lives, an endless number of fuck-ups, a complete halting of progress. There was only failure, but I was stubborn. I was going to get that fucking strawberry if it was the last thing I did.
I died so many times that I felt like I was slowly losing my mind. I began to think about life, what I’ve done wrong recently, how I could do better. I thought about that one embarrassing thing I did three years ago that nobody remembers anymore. I thought that maybe I was doomed, sentenced to make the same mistakes an endless number of times, never to make progress again, both in the game and in real life. Eventually, I stopped being able to think altogether and somehow moved into a zen state where it was just me, my jumps, and that glowing red fruit. Little by little, I made micro-adjustments on my character and got closer to my goal. It took hours, but I became more precise. I was getting closer, but not close enough.
And then—I did it. I flippin’ did it. I couldn’t help but scream: the strawberry was mine.
Why do it? Why subject myself to this? Why spend so much time bashing my head against a wall? Because Celeste believed I could do it. Celeste wanted me to succeed. In the latest podcast episode of Fave This, Gita Jackson and I discuss difficult games, what motivates people to play them, and how Celeste feels different than most masochistic games (Dark Souls, Super Meat Boy, etc.) Kinder, somehow. The conversation begins around the 26:28 mark below.
We also spend the first half of the podcast discussing Harry Potter (shipping, what makes its setting so evocative, JK Rowling’s penchant for detailing the strangest things), and Gita talks shop about Dwarf Fortress.
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Bonus: I can’t believe you can get the blasted strawberry like this.