I've never been one to try new things, mostly because I don't like that feeling of unease when I go beyond what is comfortable for me. It's that fear that things will go wrong or not according to plan. But when it comes to video games, I'm not as afraid to venture off the beaten path, and, in most cases, I will actually pursue that unknown to find new fun. That fear of failure isn't as persuasive to me.
For most perceivable errors, I try to learn. After all, they say you learn more from your mistakes than from your successes, and video games are no exception. The millions of time I dodged too early on huge wind-ups by Dark Souls enemies teach me the value of maintaining composure. Or the millions of times I messed up on inputs in Street Fighter V that teach me the value of practice. And even those millions of times I rammed my head into the line puzzles of The Witness teach me the value of perseverance. I learn a lot in video games through failure, and I figure it's the same for the majority of people. Failure is an integral part of the learning process in video games.
But recently I played Life is Strange, and it's made me realize that failure takes on a different role when it is applied to the story in the game rather than the gameplay. Stories in video games often stray away from a common storytelling template wherein the protagonist will undergo various try-fail cycles, because the gameplay in and of itself will often BE the try-fail cycle. It's essentially already baked in, so the writer is priced into rewarding the player with some amount of success, or rather the feeling of success, or they risk losing the player to apathy or frustration. Take a look at some common criticisms for Telltale Games' games for instance.
A lot of the flak that their games get stems from their story's formulaic design and the feeling that the player's choices don't matter. They feel that their fate has already been predetermined, destined to either fail or succeed based on the needs of the story. And I feel like this is because, unlike most games, the try-fail cycle is actually tied to the story rather than the gameplay. The player, like the conductor of a doomed train, can't really do anything but press colorful buttons and pray that something meaningful will change. But somehow, this all feels different in Life is Strange.
Life is Strange does something unique in that they have maneuvered the try-fail cycle from the story back into the gameplay. With the power to rewind time and choose different dialogue choices, the player is allowed the ability to try and fail. I can try telling the principal that a student has a gun, or I can try keeping it a secret. Either way, I have the opportunity to fail at picking the option that will be the more perceptibly beneficial or true to myself. As an added bonus, it gives me a better illusion of control over my fate than the alternative like in Telltale Games games.
I find that Life is Strange's system works fairly well, partly because the mechanic is written into and as a part of the story. Without that, the try-fail cycles would feel less cohesive with the story, and the story would suffer. On the other hand, their system is so inseparable from the story and convenient for the plot and gameplay that I feel that it isn't exactly adaptable or viable for wide use. But the idea to push the try-fail cycle from the story into the gameplay is.
Recommended Listen: "Why Should My Characters Fail Spectacularly" by Writing Excuses