I think, in the end, people will play more of a game the more he enjoys it.
When I said to have fun, I never meant that when you hit a wall, the game becomes boring. Hell, I've died in a certain boss of Sonic Wings Special SO MANY TIMES... I mean, it was always the same, I'd get to that boss and get owned. ALWAYS. But I love that game, and being beaten by that boss never made me feel frustrated or bored, it just makes me feel wanting more, I wanted to know what the heck would appear after that boss.
And then one day I beated him.
In the other side, while playing Radiant Silvergun, I feel I have to KEEP my attention at the position of each red enemy or something, and this feels like a chore to me. THAT'S boring, that feels like work, not fun.. (for ME, someone else may find this incrdibly fun)... and at one point I had played Radiant Silvergun regularly because I wanted to be good at the "killer" shmup... up until one day I figured out... it wasnt me who sucked at the game, it was just that I didn't liked it!
I remember I had a friend who had Kid Chameleon on the Mega-Drive back at the old days... I also had access to this game, so I used to play it regularly. He was crazy about this game, he had draw MAPS in A3 paper sheets, which he had stored in the order of the levels and shit like that. I'd NEVER do anything like this, again, because it feels more like work than fun.
Or like what Dave K. described, when you keep restarting your game just because you made a mistake and restart all over again... this indeed leads to frustration and boredom... I have said this before, but I begun had a lote more of fun with shmups when I STOPPED doing that... and then my scores improved! (And I only begun doing that AFTER I came here to shmups.com... interesting, huh?)
I don't know what other people may think, but my PERSONAL (And I want to say again, PERSONAL) point is that you should be more worried about having fun with the game than worry about being good. Being good should be just the natural process of enjoying the game. I bet Randorama made his great scores because he enjoyed a lot the games he was playing... I am sure he scored many hours in the games he is good, but thats just because he likes those games (And probably have some free time to play them, heh). In the other hand, I doubt he could beat my scores of Zanac and Aleste 2, as he doesnt seem to like Compile games that much
Diffferent people have different ways to have fun... my point is simple, play the game as much as you enjoy it, and when you don't enjoy it anymore, stop.
At any case, i still wonder who's the souless individual who spends his miserable life trying to beat a score of a person he'll never meet
You will never meet him. He's just to busy trying to beat that score, so he doesnt have time to go to a web forum, or to have a social life.