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Until this past year, the extent of my video game experience was mostly Animal Crossing and Mario Kart, with some Pokémon sprinkled in. The only console I owned was a Nintendo DSi, having upgraded to it after my Nintendo DS lite broke. So when I met my now boyfriend, a PC gamer, I knew practically nothing of the gaming world. While I was excited to have a whole new slew of games at my disposal, this also gave my anxiety the opportunity to reinforce that I was brand new to playing these types of games. The anxiety I experience often manifests as perfectionism, so I was afraid to try this new hobby for fear of being terrible at it. 

Obviously, having never played games seriously before and with zero experience, I was inevitably going to be bad at them. This simply comes with the territory of trying anything new, and you do not need to be good at something by any means to be able to enjoy it! However, I was anxious to fail at them nonetheless. A great opportunity was thus presented to me when my boyfriend suggested I start with the game Celeste. Celeste is a 2-D platformer, and the narrative follows a young woman named Madeline as she climbs a mountain. You are able to rename Madeline anything you want, so naturally I named her “Allyson” and tried to keep an open mind as I started the game. 

Within the opening scene of the game, I realized that I had no limitations on how many “lives” I had, so I could die an infinite amount of times without significantly impacting my progress. At each stage a new mechanic is introduced, so after having time in the beginning stage to learn the basics, I was then able to learn each mechanic one at a time. This allowed me the entire stage to be able to truly grasp the mechanic before moving on to the next. As the narrative progressed, I quickly caught on to the similarities between Madeline’s story and my own. 

Throughout the journey up the mountain, Madeline faces her “inner demons.” Since I named her Allyson when I played it, I found myself fully immersed in the plot. I felt as though I were facing my own “demons,” challenging my anxiety and convincing myself that I could make it up the mountain. However, throughout the climb I found myself at several instances feeling as though I would not be able to make it any farther. I would get stuck trying to figure out how to get through certain obstacles or I would know how to make it but be unable to perform the proper inputs at the right times. I was lucky enough to have such a supportive boyfriend who encouraged me through these parts or gently advised me to take a break when I became too frustrated. 

I learned how to calm my frustration, taking breaks from the game when I needed to and coming back to obstacles with a fresh mind. I began to naturally start believing in myself more, my confidence growing as I completed levels I thought were impossible for me to get through. I cared less about dying, seeing each time I died as not a failure but a lesson in what I did wrong. Knowing that I jumped at the wrong angle or the wrong time, I was then able to understand how I was supposed to jump or when. 

Playing Celeste helped me to become okay with “failing,” as I was able to see it more as just trying something new. While I started out being pretty bad at the game, as I worked through it more and more I was able to become better at using the mechanics and ultimately reach the summit. When I beat the game it felt as though I beat a part of my anxiety too, which is a double win for me! Celeste helped pave the way for me to play more games and beyond that, to try new things as well. My current obsession is the rogue-like game Hades, where you defy Hades himself as you fight your way out of the Underworld. With this game, every playthrough, or “run,” is completely different with randomly generated rooms and gods/goddesses coming to your aid. This makes it even more frustrating to die, as good runs with awesome aids can easily be cut short by your death. However, some of the treasure you accumulate on each run you are able to keep and use to unlock new weapons or abilities, making you stronger as you progress further out of the Underworld. 

With the amount of times I have died in Hades, prior to playing Celeste I would never have thought it possible for me to enjoy such a game. But having learned perseverance from Celeste, I am able to keep preserving against Hades and my anxiety, and even have fun while doing it! Even though it can be scary and nerve-wracking, try to take the leap into something new, whether it be a new hobby or a life-changing opportunity. As I keep reminding myself, you do not have to be good at it right away, or good at it at all, as long as you enjoy it. If you take tiny leaps every day, soon you will be able to build your perseverance, too! If you have not already played Celeste or any game, I highly recommend it, along with Hades. While they are a lot of fun to play and have compelling stories to follow, you may learn a thing or two about yourself along the way! 

 

Allyson is currently pursuing a Bachelor's degree at SUNY Oswego, and is a double major in English and Broadcasting with a minor in Spanish. She is the CC of her college's chapter of Her Campus, as well as the Secretary of the Women's Club Ice Hockey team. She hopes to one day become an author of fiction novels and collections of poetry. When she is not writing or on the ice she enjoys spending her time reading, hiking, and watching anime.
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