Studying and working in a creative field requires designers and artists to produce consistently high-level, novel work. In some cases, taking risks to pursue new concepts, methods, or products is highly valued. At the same time, not all companies, students, or individual artists have the resources to risk should their exploration fail. What remains is a crossroad: creative professionals and students are rewarded for taking risks, but are often unable to do so because the possibility of failure carries too much weight.
Changing the way creators see failure could revolutionize the way they work. By accepting and incorporating failure into the beginning stages of a creative project, designers and artists can free themselves to think beyond the expected and create stronger work. They stand to lose less time, money, and quality than if that failure happens in the later design or production stages.
For some designers, even this early failure is still daunting, because the way some creators view failure is purely negative. In order to avoid negative feedback and pain, failure is avoided altogether by pursuing weaker concepts, simpler methods of execution, or it can result in a project being abandoned altogether. What remains is a situation where many artists and designers would benefit greatly from a change in the way they view their own personal creative failures, in order to improve their working process and overall performance.
Currently, the video game industry is expanding to include more experimental titles which allow for contemplative gameplay and emergent gameplay. These new games often tackle complicated themes, and can offer players a space in which to experience trauma, struggle, or moral dilemmas without real-world consequences. In doing so, these games introduce coping mechanisms to players in a low-stress way, and there is research which suggests this experience can translate to real-world skill development.
This thesis project aims to combine visual design principles and simple gameplay into an interactive experience which provides players an environment to experience failure without real-world consequences. The goal of this experience is to provide a cathartic experience for the player, with the game acting as a reminder that failure and iteration are common, and that they can be used strategically for creating stronger end results.
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Video games--Design; Failure (Psychology) in art
Visual Communication Design (MFA)
Department, Program, or Center
School of Design (CAD)
Spencer, Shaemus, "Oliver's Rumination: A Short Video Game About Failure" (2018). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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