March 14, 2022

How Dark Souls Helps You To Think About Failure

Reading Time: 5 mins

Dark Souls games are punishing for their level of difficulty.

They require your full attention, the ability to learn and recognize battle patterns, and the willingness to replay a section over 100 times before beating the boss. You can’t just waltz into a Dark Souls game without knowing what to expect. You probably wouldn’t enjoy the game at all.

With that said, Dark Souls games have a very strong and loyal fanbase. Even as someone who is terrible at them, I can still appreciate them and enjoy playing them.

But what is it that makes Dark Souls games so popular?

OK, well I’m not sure if I’ll ever figure that out definitively…

BUT for me, Dark Souls is all about failure. Learning from your own failure, from the failure of others, and not seeing failure as the end of the world. When you can learn from the mistakes you made to finally beat the boss, your victory tastes so sweet.

There’s also something to it that translates to how you should think about failure in life.

With that in mind, let’s explore what Dark Souls can teach you about failure.

You Learn From The Failure Of Others

When a player dies in Dark Souls, they leave behind a bloodstain.

You see these in your own game and can interact with them. When you touch a bloodstain left behind by another player, you see the last 10 seconds of their life.

This is a really clever game mechanic as it gives you the chance to learn from the failure of other players. Perhaps there was a sneaky enemy that jumped out from behind something. Or maybe the other player fell through a trap door or off the edge of a tall building.

By avoiding the mistakes of other players, you’ll make your journey through each area that much easier.

This perfectly mirrors life, in particular it makes me think about people sharing their failures publicly on Twitter.

A lot of people are open about sharing how/why they failed at something. Whether it’s the things they wish they knew sooner, things to avoid, or things to do from the start. There’s a lot of opportunity to learn from the failure of others.

Remember this the next time you see someone talk about a failure they experienced.

You Learn From Your Own Failure

When you die in Dark Souls you also leave behind a bloodstain. The bloodstain is placed at the location about 5 seconds before your death. Interacting with these bloodstains will recover some souls and liquid humanity.

As well as replenishing your souls etc., you also see the location of where you died. This is a great visual signifier for you to think about why you died there and how you can avoid it the next time around.

This is what it’s like when you learn from your own failure in life.

You take the time to reflect on your failure, identify what could be better next time, then action those improvements. This is how you continuously get better. In fact, this is the practice of Kaizen in action.

Regular reflection is the best way to improve over time. I reflect on my failures during my weekly review process.

You Normalize Failure

Dark Souls is built for failure.

You play, you die, you play again, you die again. It’s a big part of the game and what makes it so engaging for players. Ultimately, dying in the game gives you the chance to learn what worked and what didn’t.

It also makes finally slaying the bosses so much more satisfying.

This is how you should think about failure in life. It shouldn’t be the end of the world but an opportunity to learn.

That’s not to say that you’re going to fail all the time in life, but when you inevitably do fail, you’ll learn from it and move on without difficulty.

You Think About The Advice You Take From Others

Another way you can see the remnants of other players in your game is through notes.

Players can leave notes in the game to share information with others. You may even see notes left behind by the game’s developers.

These notes might be helpful and guide you through a tough challenge or warn you about an upcoming attack. But, they may also be unhelpful and trick you into jumping off a high ledge or point you in the wrong direction.

The main takeaway here as it applies to life is to take every piece of advice you are given with a pinch of salt.

Just because something worked for someone else, doesn’t mean it will work for you. Think critically about the person giving the advice and don’t just accept that what they’re saying is a silver bullet to success.

Of course, learning from others is how we get better and I’m not saying to disregard everyone who gives you advice. Just remember you could be pointed in the wrong direction or tricked into jumping off a roof!

My Key Takeaways

This was a fun article to write so I hope you enjoyed it. Here are my main takeaways:

Is there anything you would add?

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Creation Gaming