Chris Whitehead writes: For the last three weeks, I have spent the majority of my game time playing Super Meat Boy, Trials HD, and 'Splosion Man. If you're unfamiliar with any of them, know that they are all 2D quasi-difficult-to-screaming-b rutal XBLA games that test players' patience and provide a deceptively harmless question at their foundations: Can you just make it to the end?
If you play these games, you won't remain deceived for long. You soon realize that the early tutorial levels have only the loosest connection to the developers' intentions when they made the games: you learn the controls there, but, immediately after, the level design ramps up in complexity, sinister trickery, nearly impassable sequences, and high death counts. My muffled screams of frustration playing these games might indicate that I do indeed punish myself in games. But why?