What Do I Do When I Get Stuck in a Video Game?

For the past few days I’ve been playing Shadow of the Colossus on the PlayStation 2 for review purposes. The problem was that almost at the end of the game I got really stuck on a boss fight and I couldn’t find the solution even after an hour and a half of roaming around aimlessly. As I was playing the game to review it, of course I wasn’t going to run to my laptop and check out a walkthrough as not only would this ruin the experience of finding out what I have to do by myself, but would also be utterly unprofessional. Still, I started thinking about my approach to playing games and the way I deal with them whenever I get stuck.

Of course getting stuck in games is nothing new and some titles are definitely harder than others, but what do I do when this happens? I’ll list some of my rituals, but if you have a different approach to this, please feel free to write them in the comments section of the site:

1) Pause the game, walk a little bit, drink something, go to the backyard, stretch your muscles, play with you cat or little brother for a little while. Then get back, read the manual (in case you have one) or simply review your objectives. Most of the times after you do something like this and you get back to the game, the solution may present itself to you in seconds.

2) Know that it is not necessarily your fault. This may seem really silly, but sometimes you start blaming yourself for not clearly see what you are supposed to do. Most of the times games are designed like this, some titles are simply hard and they are not for everybody. Tenacity is a good quality so keep trying.

3) Save, turn off the console, go to sleep and get back to the game tomorrow morning. This is one of the best options when dealing with frustrations and not only does this approach applies to video games, but also to other problems in general. Chances are that when you wake up the next morning and you play the same section of game, you’ll effortlessly solve that difficult puzzle that was bothering you so much.

4) Get an official guide, an FAQ or walkthrough and see what you are supposed to do. This becomes really addictive once you start doing it and whenever you get stuck you’ll immediately think about turning to that laptop over there and reading a walkthrough. “Come on, I’ll do it for a little while, no one will get hurt,” you think. Then you realize that you’re finishing 12-hour games in just 6 hours, you’re not getting anything from them and the whole experience is not as rewarding as it should be. I used to do this, but now I try to stay as far away from FAQs as possible and I turn off my laptop whenever I’m playing RPGs or puzzle games. Using guides just feels wrong.

5) Don’t let the high difficulty pollute or influence your opinion about the game. This is extremely hard sometimes and when you get stuck or find a bug or glitch it’s easy to start swearing at the developers and then talk about your experience in some random forum or blog. It’s just a game, some games are more difficult than others and some games are not for everybody.

6) Use forums or ask friends. Yeah right, like this ever helped anyone. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes this can be an easy solution, but most of the times people will start telling you things that you didn’t know about the game. “What, Aeris dies at the end? Oh crap…

7) Rage quit. For many this is an option, of course personally I won’t stop playing a game just because I can’t seem to find the solution to a certain puzzle (especially if I’m reviewing that game in particular,) but for those who have dozens of games and are way too frustrated with one in particular they can always leave it aside and never, ever get back to it again.

Now I ask you, what do you do when you come stuck in a video game?