The Gaming Tragedies That Didn’t Kill Us (But Nearly Broke Us)

The Gaming Tragedies That Didn’t Kill Us (But Nearly Broke Us)

My proudest moments as a tap dancer are displayed in my parents’ house in the form of sparkly, obnoxious trophies.

My proudest moments as an actor sit on shelves represented by photos and signed scripts.

Even my proudest moment in horseback riding was when I won a golden hoof pick for “Best Dressed” — which, now that I think about it, is probably the most patronising award you could ever win in a serious competition. Thanks, jerks.

But my proudest moment in video games was nothing more than a very large number inside of a 1-inch DS cartridge… and it’s gone forever.

I knew that cartridge was going to disappear. As soon as I ejected Tetris from my DS and stuck it in the front pocket of my purse, that nagging pessimistic portion of my brain said, “You know that’s going to fall out and vanish forever, right?”

Well, EXCUUUUSE ME Princess, but apparently that’s what I get for trying to be positive. I ignored that warning and sure enough, my cartridge, containing a high score that took me months to achieve, has either been sent to the dump, run over by a car, or eaten by a dog or small hungry child — and now I have nothing to show for months of hard work and sore thumbs.

Ever since losing my Tetris cartridge, I’ve felt no further desire to fit blocks together. Why bother spending more hours trying to re-accomplish something I’ve already accomplished? Who knows if lightning will strike twice? And who’s to say a new Tetris cartridge won’t disappear? Or get struck by lightning, twice?! THE HUMANITY.

The first thing I did in preparation of this column was hit up my Facebook friends to gather more tragic gaming stories — partially for your reading pleasure, but mostly to make myself feel better. Today, I am proudly hosting the gaming world’s biggest pity party.

Take a seat and grab a pack of Corn Nuts: Here are some of the best (or worst?) stories of video game heartbreak. These people need hugs.

• Rich T, Minecraft:
“I built an entire mining system, automated minecart transport, water features, a column of diamond, and an entire friggin mountain with a friggin castle in the clouds! One day… gone. Just gone.”

• Jamie L, Magic Cards:
“I lost over 1000 1st and 2nd edition Magic The Gathering cards by leaving them at my mother’s place in Scotland. She has no idea what happened to them. They completely disappeared, and they could probably pay my entire college tuition.”

•Charlie B, Back to the Future (NES):
“I was playing Back to the Future and I told myself, I HAVE TO BEAT THIS! I struggled and struggled to beat the level where you have to catch the hearts. Hours later, I finally reach the last stage. You have to reach 88 mph in the DeLorean while avoiding lightning bolts that slow you down. YOU ONLY GET ONE TRY AND I GOT TO FREAKIN’ 87 MPH AND HAD TO START ALL OVER! I wanted to cry.”

• Jeremy B, Pokemon Red:
“One of my friends pulled out the cartridge right after I caught Mewtwo… erased the whole game.”

• Hamza Aziz (D-Toid), Yoshi’s Safari:
“I was excited as SHIT when Yoshi’s Safari came out for the SNES. I begged my mum for the game and she finally caved. I get the game, go home, put the cartridge in and… find out you need the Super Scope to play it. No way were my parents going to buy that overpriced piece of junk and I wasn’t able to return the game because we opened it. The most pathetic part? I pretended like I was playing Yoshi’s Safari during the demo that would play if you didn’t press Start immediately. So, there I am, six years old, playing along with the same looping demo because there was nothing else I could do.”

• Richard W, Final Fantasy VIII:
“All my FFVIII save games corrupted just after getting the Ragnarok… that hurt.”

Regarding Cats…

• Avi C:
“My cat Ember Mi-Go Doomkiteeh has managed to unplug my router midgame, hit the reset button on my PC during a World of Warcraft raid (in effect, giving the 1 Finger Salute), and, also during WoW, jump on my keyboard while flying and dismount my character… leaving me to plummet to my death.”

• Kyle W:
“I was playing FFVII when my cat woke up and walked over the PS1, opening the disc tray. I lost many, many hours of gameplay. :(“

Regarding Siblings…

• Je’an-Luke D:
“Nearly 100% Diddy Kong Racing on the N64 (almost got all the balloons, too) when my dearest sister decided to start a new game… I was 12 and have never touched that game since.”


[imgclear] (Sad gamer | Gamefly commercial)

James Paul K:
The Legend of Zelda 98% complete meets an upset sister. D:”

And finally, David Y. with a huge “ouch”:
“My roommate formatted my PS2 memory card without asking. I lost my 100% complete FFXII, 100% Tales of the Abyss, and 100% Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne.”


Well, readers? Time to post some of your stories and join the Sadface Club! We have jackets. Really uncomfortable jackets.

Kotaku columnist Lisa Foiles is best known as the former star of Nickelodeon’s award-winning comedy show, All That. She currently works as an actress/web host in Hollywood and writes for her game site, Save Point. For more info, visit Lisa’s official website.


  • Back in the old days where you had to keep the CD in the drive I was playing Command and Conquer. Can’t remember where I was up to but my Mum came along and ejected the drive because she wanted to listen to her Ricky Martin CD because I was about to get off so she could play Spider Solitare. The system Blue Screened for whatever reason and I stormed off.

  • My brother sent away his PS3 to get fixed. It was under warranty but Sony made him pay for it. On top of that, when he got it back they had completely formatted the harddrive.
    Between me and my two brothers, we probably lost around 300 hours in Oblivion, among many other games.
    Thanks Sony!

    • This happened to me too.

      I haven’t finished some longer games (GTA4 is a particular one for me) because I just cant go through the hours of replaying to get back to where I was. Maybe one day…

    • Same deal here. My PS3 mysteriously died and lost progress in Persona 3 , Yakuza 4 and a few other games.
      Sony sent me a new PS3 and neglected to tell me that they format the hard disk anyway for security reasons, not that I could recover the data from it in its broken state.

      THEN, this new PS3 10 days later decided that it would be a good idea to Yellow Light of death at the boss of Shadows of the Damned, all while streaming my progress live on camera. At least it was still under warranty but this time they decided to repair it. T_T

  • Back in the day when guitar hero 1 was still kicking heads in, i had been trying to complete bark at the moon on expert for over a month to no avail.

    One night with a few mates on a “lost + guitar hero night” i managed to finaly beat it with the skin of my teeth.

    I jumped up to whip out a victory dance yanking the guitar controller and pS2 with it half way across my living room. The console reset and it took almost another week for me to beat it.

  • Ten years ago my new wife saved over my game of theme hospital. I was on the last level and had everything set up, all I had to do was have it play itself for a little bit to save enough money. When I stated it up to find it was back at the first level I died a little inside. I said it was OK at the time but I never played another game like that again and late at night I still resent it a little.

  • Back in the master system days I was playing Bomber Raid at my cousins house and was on a roll, got all the way to the last level, and his fat cat just decided to walk through the faulty power cable and reseted my game!

  • Also, in my obssesive Morrowind days, I had a save Id been religiously playing for 7 months straight, the game froze up while it was saving and erased my save! I looked at the screen with my mouth open, looked at my xbox all fat and blocky, grabbed the disc out the tray and bended the disc in my fingers until it shattered into a million pieces! Retribution is bliss!

    • I love how you think breaking something is retribution.
      Im exactly the same.
      My parents never saw it that way though.

  • In the days of the Sega Dreamcast I had a VMU with 99% complete Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure 2 saves, 100% unlocked Soul Calibur and Marvel Vs Capcom 2 saves, Shenmue multiple playthough saves, and many others. Got another VMU and erased the wrong one!!!

  • 1 Phantasy Star Online character per VMU. My RAcaseal was level 148 and rocking some fantastic gear with even better gear waiting in the bank. Max Meseta everywhere. Several fantastic MAGs. Nephew wanted to try a new character.

    … =(

  • PSone. Just finished the last endurance race on GT2 very late at night. Had two saves on seperate memory cards (as the old trick was to copy your main save onto a second memory card, sell all the cars and have LOTS of money, + have room for another 100 cars), went to save to memory card 2 but it always defaults to memory card 1, clicked the wrong card, saved over my main save!

  • i got a couple unfortunatly.

    biggest gaming tragedy was when due to my cat, it flipped out while i was playing my PS2, got caught in the cable and yanked the PS2 from the shelf and destroying it… for a teenager saving up to get a new one was a long wait at $5-$10 a day working on weekends helping parents.

    Another was i loaned my copy of Zelda: Majora’s Mask to a friend, and he erased my save file… a save file containing a 100% completed game. (i still get annoyed about this one, 10+ years on)

    The only ‘tragedy’ in recent times was when my HDD died that contained all my steam games, approximatly 600GB. Fortunatly most of the games save files are located on another drive. Doesnt fix the fact that downloading them again is taking forever!

    • This. Except no backup for saves and a 20gb download limit each month. There are so many games now that I just won’t touch because I know how much grinding I’ll have to go through to get back to where I was up to.

      Also for everyone with Elder Scrolls examples, I feel for you. 200 hours of Oblivion on my main file gone, not to mention by brother’s equivalent plus all the other half games.

      I think I was actually in shock on the phone as I was told nothing had been saved.

      Also Mario Golf on 64 – I spent half my childhood on it and unlocked all of 2 characters, only to have them both erased by the aforementioned little brother…

    • Or a dog. Many moons ago – Halo 2 MP match Big Team Battle and my poor dog decided she had waited long enough for me to let her outside for personal business.

      Stinky room = last round for a while.

  • Not really an ouch but losing connection to the internet while playing Splintercell Conviction for five hours resulted in me having to start at square one again. As a side note I have not bothered to even click the exe since then.

    When I was thirteen I tried to see if I could speed run through final fantasy nine (during the school holidays) and was going pretty good when I got up to a story critical part on disc three which had been affected by a hair line scratch the made continuing on the story impossible, never felt so cheated in my life.

    Except for that time that mincraft decided it would spawn a creeper on my well lit floating island fortress and the time that I bought duels of the planeswalker only to find it free to PS+ members a week later.

  • I had a Pokemon Gold which I had managed to weasel and trade my way to a full pokedex (EVERYTHING). And I was proud of myself, so I kept it on a shelf in a safe place. Little did I know the battery would die, and as a result I lost my save.

  • Lost my original 100% completion pokemon blue cartridge, don’t know where.


    Left my CD wallet of games and a memory card at a friends house. Her psycho, as in literaly was commited to a ward about a year later and you’ll see why soon, step mother found them on a shelf and decided the orange case clashed with her 150 strong barbie doll army that was set out on every other shelf in the house.

    The discs got stabbed and scratched with kitchen utensils, the memory card jumped on a few dozen times and smashed with a brick then she threw the entire lot in the trash. My friend also lost about a dozen books in the same incedent because they were taking up potential barbie display areas.

    Do you see why she was carried off by the men in white coats?

  • Old 40Gb PS3 had a problem with its power supply. No worries, took out my 250Gb HDD and stuck the original 40Gb back in then sent it off to Sony for repair.

    What I didn’t realize was that the HDD in a PS3 can’t just be unplugged and swapped over to a new unit – apparently the data is encrypted so it can only be read by the console that wrote it. What I should have been doing was taking a regular backup of my PS3 which CAN be restored to a different unit. So once I got my reconditioned PS3 back from Sony, I plugged my 250Gb HDD back into it and the first thing it did when I turned it on was to format that HDD. I lost EVERYTHING. Including my 200+ hours that I’d put into Oblivion. Since then I’ve bought an external USB HDD and I backup my PS3 to it every week without fail.

  • “And finally, David Y. with a huge “ouch”:
    “My roommate formatted my PS2 memory card without asking. I lost my 100% complete FFXII, 100% Tales of the Abyss, and 100% Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne.””


    To 100 PERCENT.

    You are NOT Buzz Lightyear. That’s gaming’s DEAD END.

  • Had 4000 MS points in my account ready for summer of arcade, little cousin came home while at work, 4000 MS points of DLC content of games I don’t even like or own.

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