Baseball is about suffering. For every proud Yankee fan there is a legion of defeated Brewers loyalists waiting in the dimly-lit sports bars masochistically hoping the next pitch won’t lead to failure. When it does, the heartbroken fan generates an instant nostalgia for those hopeful few seconds before the strikeout, when anything seemed possible.
“It is designed to break your heart,” former MLB commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti once said of baseball. “The game begins in spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone.”
Diablo 3 has just become the fastest-selling PC game of all time, with 3.5 million copies of the game sold in the first 24 hours and more than 6.3 million sold in its first week.
Writing for Eurogamer, Quintin Smith encapsulates the charm of Diablo 3‘s “Hardcore Mode”–wherein a character’s death is permanent, robbing players of all their precious gear, skills, and experience points they’d built up–as a romance with inevitable failure.
The second I realised I was fighting for everything, my head experienced a kind of explosive depressurisation. Nothing existed except the monsters, my powers, my health, the monsters, my powers, my health. I had the spirits of the underworld clawing at the beasts around me, great soul-sucking artillery blasts aimed at the deadliest enemies, explosive frogs pouring out of my character by the cartload. And it wasn’t enough.
Then, like a ball bearing circling a funnel, a thought began travelling my brain. I was going to die.
Finally, my zombie dogs were ready to be re-summoned. My Witch Doctor clawed them afresh from the earth around her, creating a small buffer between her and the inevitable. Slowly, mortifyingly slowly, the maths changed. My health stopped bottoming out. I would live.
Moments like this are so palpably addictive precisely because, like the sad Brewers fan suddenly energized by a rare homerun, we know how rare they are, brief respite from the norm, an overelaborate matrix of hopes, plans, and inescapable failure. Even winning the World Series can’t stop the winter gloom.