"Yet, our shared desire to avoid failure is often integral in the direction we take our lives. It greases the wheels of our existence, keeps us drudging through the monotony of work, and pushes us forward; as a society we chase success. Success, after all, comes with some very obvious benefits. Yet, without the risk of failure what would be the point of it all? A victory that comes easily is ultimately a meaningless one; a victory earned through struggle is remembered for a lifetime.
The prospect of failure is used to great effect in video games. Cast your mind to the constant threat of Mass Effect 2’s suicide mission, or the encroaching moon in Majora’s Mask as it creeps closer and closer to Termina. Both examples offer the player a feeling of urgency; they heighten the tension. Take away that constant threat of failure and the deep sense of atmosphere offered by Mass Effect 2 and Majora’s Mask would have suffered for the loss. Without the possibility of losing a teammate we knew intimately, it would have been harder to identify with Mass Effect 2’s conclusion. Without the ticking meter heralding an imminent apocalypse, the crawl through Stone Tower would have been nowhere near as exciting.
Robert Yang identified this feeling as a ‘near-failure state’, a sense of adrenaline-boosted panic achieved by teetering on the cusp of failure. As the potential for survival drops, the glory of a possible victory rises, if we earn that challenging victory it becomes infinitely more fulfilling than if it was merely handed to us."