Give Up

When you’ve got a talent unlike that of people around you, it’s a source of pride. Life is about constantly pushing your limits, always trying to be the best you can. The best way to improve a talent is through practice. In Steven Lavalle’s Légende, the player character is an exceptional jumper. The omniscient narrator encourages this talent by setting up increasingly high columns for you to leap over. The narrator gives you encouragement after you finish each level. It talks down to you like a teacher encouraging a struggling student.

You are initially unaware of your talent until the narrator comments on your nice knees. The narrator suggests you take up jumping. In the next level, your newfound skill is apparent. You leap each column with ease, and you’re met at the level’s end with more encouragement. Any skill has a difficulty curve, and you’re still at the low end of yours.

As you clear each level, your jumping ability increases. In the first jumping level, you must hold the jump button down to reach the top of the column, but by later levels you can clear the top of the columns without the same amount of effort. Soon, your avatar can jump many times its own height. As you get better and better at a skill, your potential seems limitless. It’s easy to forget that you may ever run into trouble in your newfound talent. But in the penultimate level, you’re presented with a single extremely tall column. Even with your incredible skill, you can’t surpass the unsurpassable. The narrator notices your failure and drops you in a completely flat level. “There,” you’re told, “isn’t running fun?”

That last, incredibly high column is the top of your difficulty curve. Légende shows how easy it is to give up and stick with what you know you can’t fail doing. The narrator’s last line might not come from the narrator at all, but from yourself, an attempt at self-assurance that giving up was the right choice. That last line also freezes the game on its screen. This is a grim outcome for your avatar, as it implies the avatar will always stick with easy running instead of developing its jumping skill.

You’re told, “work hard and you can do anything” during the game, yet this piece of advice is quickly discarded once your avatar encounters a challenge it can’t surpass. Légende shows that practicing skills can give you abilities you never dreamed of, like jumping many times your own height, and that giving up too quickly is never a good choice. If you’ve found a new talent, don’t give up.

 

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3 comments
  1. snbrown said:

    This game sends a good message. Don’t give up. Sounds simply, but really many people know that it is sometimes hard to work as hard as you can while it is so easy to just give up. This game holds values that can be applied to real life. Sometimes people may need a teacher, a parent, or maybe just a friend there to help them through their challenging situations, and remind them of all the things that they are capable of doing. Sometimes you might even have to give yourself a prep talk. Also, like in the game as you advanced to higher levels your jumping skills increased. I believe that in the real world as you achieve more, your ability to do things increases as well. This is a good lesson to learn young,because as you get older things only become more difficult. However, if you learn at a young age to never give up, in the future you will do just fine.

  2. cahross said:

    While the game does present a good message, unless the target audience is children or people struggling with low self-esteem, the message is trite. “Work hard and you can do anything”. Of course, everyone already knows that. I fail to see why anyone would play it, other than maybe stumbling on it and playing it for a few minutes out of curiosity. When I play a game and succeed in the game, in my opinion, it’s usually due to cruel, unrelenting qualities of the game. The gentle, hand-holding nature of the narrator makes it uninteresting. But, sure, why not. “Don’t give up”.

  3. ... said:

    Huh, I’m sorry, but I believe you thoroughly missed the point. Yes, not giving up is a good lesson, although “never give up” seems exaggerated as at times, in certain situations, it simply is unreasonable (A child thinking of attempting something dangerous for their health or well being should never think : “Alright then, I won’t give up!”). When something has meaning and is important to someone, then, the saying should apply. However, this has nothing to do with it. One might easily argue that indie shorties such as this one are meant to be perceived from the player’s own perspective which would allow for there being several interpretations (Honestly, I feel your opinion should stated as such rather than as fact =/) as to what meaning the game might have. With that said, to me, the prevalent possibility has nothing with one not giving up. If you analyze the game’s content in it’s entirety, you get something different.

    You begin with some talent, have it noticed to you and encouraged by the authority figure, receive some custom (chosen by the person watching over you, of course) levels (or challenges) and become a bit better every time as you succeed at completing levels. At this point, it becomes clear that the authority figure takes the role of a sort of coach. Then comes the literally impossible level (which you get to try only once) in which the necessary height is way above your current level. Because of that, you automatically fail and are told you probably aren’t meant for jumping. The same person who encouraged you so strongly seems to completely abandon you in the middle of your progress because you failed to achieve that one task which was a serious bump in difficulty. The coach (if we can still call it that) throws you a level without any need for jumping and now encourages to just run around, describing it as fun.

    What I get from this is not that the player gave up but rather that the coach gave up on them. The coach encouraged the player not so the player would be proud of their accomplishments or become very talented one day, but rather so that the coach itself would feel pride and accomplishment in it’s coaching and ultimately, pride for the player. Because of that, they pushed the player forward with encouragement. However, the coach gets eager to make you reach higher and ultimately gives you an impossible task by asking you to accomplish something way past your skill level. There might be several reasons for it to become impatient this way. Regardless of that, the bottom line is that the player was never given any choice at all and only followed the one way ahead. Essentially, this means the player never really gave up on their own intent. The player had to end up running because the coach no longer had any interest in the player’s potential. Seeing his extreme hopes for success and his exaggerated expectations not being met by the player’s best efforts, the coach will simply dump them and look for someone else to push forward. Of course, as I mentioned earlier, I’m sure I interpreted at least a certain part of this perspective.

    In the end, my point is the following : how I see it, it isn’t about giving up or not giving up so much as it is a message about how high expectations and pressuring for great success upon the youth can ultimately harm their self esteem and determination and, thus, have the adverse effect of any good intention possibly coming from it. It usually doesn’t help to give up, but it sure isn’t any wiser to push oneself too hard or take unnecessary risks and it isn’t healthy to expect unreasonable success rate from a protege. As they say, slow and steady wins the race. o_o Hum, also, sorry for the wall of text.

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