Pain For Fun: Using games to explore the thrill of suffering

“I’m going to try and convince you to put more suffering in your games,” Bennett Foddy told an audience of independent developers at this year’s IndieCade festival. “It’s not that modern games are easier–although they are. Games these days are far more comfortable. My worry is that games are getting too comfortable.”

Foddy’s claim to fame is QWOP, a game where you control an Olympic sprinter by trying to coordinate the independent movement of his thighs and calves. The awkward controls are infuriating, making a seemingly easy task nearly impossible… and people loved it.

QWOP proved to Foddy that pain isn’t something that game designers should avoid in games; in fact, it’s something that they can wholly embrace. “The core mechanic doesn’t have to be pleasurable,” he argued, pointing to “the cinnamon challenge” on YouTube. Hundreds of people voluntarily record videos of themselves stuffing a large spoonful of cinnamon in their mouths–to disastrous (and hilarious) effect. And why do people continue to participate in such a masochistic activity? “Because we enjoy the suffering itself.”

Want to read more? The complete feature, also including Dear Esther‘s Dan Pinchbeck, can be found in issue 3 of GameQ Magazine – now available for free on iPad, Android tablets, and the GameFly digital client.

See the complete feature in GameQ magazine

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Pain For Fun: Using games to explore the thrill of suffering

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