“Slow down and look”: Desirable aspects of failure in video games, from the perspective of players.

Charline Foch, Ben Kirman

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Failure, or the possibility of it, is a key component of a lot of video games. Yet, as of now, research has mostly focused on the learning benefits of failure within game systems: little research has attempted to understand the qualities of failure that video games players focus on during and after their gameplay experiences, or what their personal relationship with failure is. Because research has highlighted the positive aspects of failure through the lens of psychology and education, the current project seeks to explore players’ perspectives in more depth: what do video games players perceive as the benefits of failure? How do they conceptualise a positive gameplay experience where failure is present?
This qualitative study investigates how 244 video game players understand and conceptualise failure, and specifically the added value it brings to their experience. Responses were collected through an online survey, and analysed using reflexive thematic analysis. We propose that there are three major aspects alongside which participants articulate their positive experiences of failure: they perceive it as an opportunity to learn; as an opportunity for meaningful social interactions; and as a deeply affective experience. This understanding of what players value in fail states and failure experiences helps establishing a dialogue between players and game designers, and suggests new avenues of reflection for researchers and designers alike.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2 Aug 2021

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