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The Language of Videogames

The Language of Videogames

This year, I replayed Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (Sekiro henceforth) and beat the game, then did NG+7 with the bell demon and without Kuro's charm.

Now, I'm not saying all of this to toot my own horn — although I'm happy to do that too — but to mention that on Sekiro's original release I was incapable of beating the game after several dozen hours of trying and failing at the final boss; I could to reach his second stage, let alone beat his fourth. I was enraged when the game won GOTY because I felt it wasn't a good thing for Sekiro to win the award despite so many controversies surrounding it, with so few people being able to beat the game. At the end of my original journey, some could say I disliked the game because of the torture I'd endured trying to fight every boss.

Later, my review of the game was changed into positive, and I formally apologised for my inability to understand how to play the game and persevere through it. Nowadays Sekiro is one of my favourite games of all time, and having spent 100 hours in it isn't enough, because every time I mention it I get the urge to play it again.

So why could I beat Sekiro my second time around with ease, whilst on my first I had to surrender? Because of the unique language of videogames.

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When I first played Sekiro I was quite new to gaming. That's not to say that I haven't been gaming all of my life, but up until around 2015 I wasn't capable monetarily to play anything aside from really old games or free ones; the first big game I ever bought was Fallout 4, and that's right around when my gaming craze began. However, that's not to say that I continued being able to afford games, so I was only capable of slowly building my library.

By the time Sekiro was released in 2019, I hadn't had much of an opportunity to play many things, with my actual journey beginning only shortly after 2018 began; this was in big part because I consistently return to games such as World of Warcraft and League of Legends, so my journey across different genres was stagnated by intervals of playing these two.

I moved on from the game with my head hanging, feeling defeated; it was the first time I was physically incapable of beating a game. I continued gaming because it was definitely still one of my passions, and soon enough Sekiro and the memory of it was far behind me. I played Dark Souls III for around 200 hours with different builds, and plainly I had moved on from memories of defeat.

Throughout my journey, I played a large assortment of games. I was monetarily stable enough to buy Sekiro on release, which meant that now I was more comfortable than ever to be able to buy anything that was regionally priced, and so buy and play I did. 


The language of videogames works exactly like any other language out there. As I played more games, I learned about them and caught patterns, I was capable of guessing the ending of games, I figured out game mechanics far before they were introduced due to hints in the gameplay. I even could look at a game over the top and be able to figure out if I would like it, or what I'd like about it. With each new game, my knowledge grew, and as I practised more I honed my skills for later games. I finished Ori and the Blind Forest's no death run, which later helped me be comfortable enough on 2D Metroidvanias to pass Hollow Knight's Pantheon of Hallownest. I found that if I played games of the same genre, I picked up anything that even remotely resembled it easier in the future; kind of like one of the very first lessons any new gamer learns with some games: the three-hit pattern with bosses.

I delved into deeper complexity with gaming, and I tried my hand at games aimed at younger audiences, platformers, shooters… As with any skill, I tried to find my favourite technique; in this case, I tried to find my favourite genres. I jumped and tried every genre available until I felt comfortable enough to say I'd tried them all; this taught me a lot, not only about myself but about videogames as well. I could find collectables by logically deducing that I'd gone one area too many without finding one, because I'd learned how developers think.

After two whole years of me truly delving deep into being a gamer came the time to replay Sekiro, because I got myself an OLED TV and I really wanted to experience the Sengoku Period of Japan on the beautiful graphics quality. And because I returned to Sekiro two years later, I expected to just fight my way up to Lady Butterfly and give up. So fight the old hag I did. And I won.

I left cautiously confident, and I fought Genichiro, another boss that had easily killed me dozens of times; I defeated that one too. I expected each new boss I encountered to be the end of my run. And each time, I fought and died, but got right back up and won. Victory after victory I amassed, and as I stood in front of Sword Saint Isshin knelt in front of me, I looked back at my history with gaming and I realised I was just too new to it to truly understand and enjoy Sekiro.

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I'd learned to fight cautiously and learn the patterns after playing Hollow Knight, but Dark Souls III had taught me that sometimes aggression was key because it didn't matter how many times I rolled away from the Abyss Watchers, they continued doing gap-closing attacks. I learned precise movements and to continue trying with Ori and the Blind Forest's numerous failures throughout my attempt at the one life run. My triumph over Sekiro wasn't only one victory, but the culmination of many.

This knowledge doesn't only extend to hard games, either. Games soon teach you how to reset fall damage (by doing things like ground pound or aerial attacks), understanding of when and why to use consumables, or how to tell which is the villain of any game by the way they look and talk — we're looking at you, Ardyn.

Playing videogames is a skill like any other. If you play and hone your abilities, if you push your limits, you reach new heights. Someone had to be the first person to play the piano with two hands, and everyone else followed suit once they knew it was possible. And as I stood there, the credits rolling after I'd finally emerged victorious, I realised how much of the language of videogames I'd learned.

Artura Dawn

Artura Dawn

Staff Writer

Writes in her sleep, can you tell?

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