One more go. It is a common practice amongst the most common things of life. One more pint, one more car from Bavarian Motor Works, one more go on that crossbow. Be they temptations or otherwise, one more is an appetite that is tough to fill; there always seems to be another corner that can handle some more, and in gaming terms that means pressing the start/continue button again.
There are several reasons for this and I have listed them for your consideration and guilt. Let’s start with a passionate one.
As fast-acting responses go, nothing gets you twitchier for the start button than rage. Rage confirms to you that you have been hard done by; that the person next to you, or something within the game itself has been cheating and you have uncovered it. There is now no time to lose in getting your own back either against the machine or the good friend that you have been playing Tekken 2 with. We’ll focus on the latter for this.
Picture the scene… your friend has been deploying anti-social high/low combos with Bruce, and although you have lived with them and his victories, they have led you down a path of rage. Time for another round. If your mate is going to keep going with Bruce, then he is owed an even bigger combo opponent, so you go with Baek, not even stopping to care which of his outfits he will appear in. It doesn’t matter. What does is that you munch all over the controls in a rage-o-vision hysteria of combo consequences. Yes, hardly any of them connect, and yes your friend is happy to sit back and let you wave your limbs about, but the rage feels good and you have never more intensely been at play.
Rage is no way to win though, and might in fact only be there as a lead-in to the next level of rage; controller destruction. You might have lost the battle but in ruining your controller you have somehow won the war. Bruce needed a ten-hit combo to put you down, but you ended the control pad after just one throw/kick/stamp. So who’s the real winner?
As the most reasonable of reasons to continue, competition does what it does with a smile. You don’t even need to be competing against a fellow humanoid, you could be just ghost racing on Sega Rally or gunning for a record on Time Crisis. In fact, any time or score oriented game will put you up against your ultimate competitor. Yourself.
If you have ever had a pool table in your house then you will know, once you have cleared the rest of your house aside to have room to play, that you play best in isolation and without the care of making mistakes in front of someone. With no one around it doesn’t matter, and when it doesn’t matter you will level up and make a happy face.
Then you just keep one more going. Slicing off tenths of a second with ever more perfected slides in Rally or never wasting a bullet in Time Crisis. And unlike a private pool session, games come with leaderboards. My brothers and I used to play solo competitive Sega Rally and casually drop into conversation when a new record was set on the Desert stage. We’d never believe each other until we checked, but then the joy of competition would set in when the leaderboard confirmed it. All that was needed was for the people of the house to clear off. High competition for round after round, without the irritation of a competitor. The happy face of competitiveness.
You could do better. You should have done so already. You have been trying for hours to get the feather cape working correctly on Super Mario World, but still, your efforts have ended in personal disgrace. You likely won’t have lost any lives, so there won’t be any need to press start to continue, but the weight of another effort, of one more go to get it right, and of not being an incompetent oaf, will keep you coming back.
Just get that run right, launch Mario and bounce him through the air. There you go, that’s got it, now you are flying… just hold the natural rhythm of the bounce… yes… yes… no…
Okay, but now you nearly have it. Just have to get that run up to speed again and you’ll be away this time. Off we go…
Okay that didn’t quite work, but now you have been through every permutation of incompetence and the only other variant left to experience has to be success; grabbing all of those high placed coins in a harmony of man, machine and plumber. Here we go…
Okay, that didn’t quite work either. There was another route to having to try again. Of course there was, this is Nintendo. But you have most certainly found it now, so by extension, you are just one more run and jump away from flying; the incompetence of before only a memory as you fly Mario through coins and maintain altitude control with a deft flick of… no you’ve lost it again.
The need to impress is something of a red herring amongst this list as it can imply already being good at the game at hand. At least until you wanted one more go to show off. After that you have to keep trying, like the time I wanted to impress a girl I liked by trying to beat her on Fighters Megamix at college.
I was doing a film course at the time so I had access to some pretty hefty sized monitors on which a bunch of us would play games on. I would often bring my Saturn in and we would huddle around and try to impress. Fighting games were great for this and Fighters Megamix was a pretty great example.
When it came to this girl and me, I thought this was it. Time to break out those Jacky combos I’d been crafting and give her character, Candy, an absolute pasting. That’s how to get a girl to like you. Except that right off the mark she was button-spaffing and getting some pretty good results from it. She took the first match, and although that pleased her, I was less keen.
Rematch. This time I didn’t hang around, in fact I had Jacky rip Candy a new one. But I didn’t feel great about it, even though the facts were the facts and I’d clearly left an impression. Sometimes with girls you really can’t win, even when you undoubtedly have.
Coming on like the brother of rage, revenge is nonetheless more calculated and self-certain. There are fewer histrionics involved, but the goal is the same; decimate the opponent that has been embarrassing you and abandon all rules to get there.
When I used to play multiplayer Micro Machines we had a standing rule that we wouldn’t deliberately endanger each other while racing. We would try to win reasonably, but that would be kicked right out of the window once someone felt another player had been unreasonable with them. By the next race, they would sit their micro to the inside of the previously offending player and just drive straight into them as they attempted to round a tough bend. It always worked a treat, which was why we agreed to not behave like that in the first place.
Of course, revenge spirals until all the players on that magical Codemasters J-Cart were engaged in full-scale, one-more-revenge missions against each other, for reasons that no one could recall once the micros were flying. But it sure kept you playing.
John is a writer and gardener. He comes with various 90’s Sega attachments and is the author of The Meifod Claw and other works. His favorite tree is a copper beech and he would like his coffee black without sugar, thank you.