I recently recalled that I've been playing Nethack off and on since 2000.
10 years of being turned to stone.
10 years of drowning.
10 years of being zapped with wands of death.
10 years of being swarmed by insects.
10 years of being killed by priests.
10 years of starving to death.
10 years of chameleons being imitating nasty monsters.
10 years of dead pets.
10 years of rustmonsters destroying my equipment.
10 years of falling down stairs.
10 years of eating floating eyes.
10 years of poisoned dart/arrow insta-deaths.
10 years of pissed off Gods.
10 years of unaligned altars.
10 years of polymorphing pets.
10 years of teleporting away.
10 years of getting killed in expected ways.
10 years of getting killed in unexpected ways.
...and one exploding draw bridge.
In all that time, I've yet to get even remotely close to winning.
But for all the nastiness Nethack throws at me, for all the murderous brilliance it seems to concoct, when I look back, all I can remember is the fun.
It's not all fun, of course. There's a lot of fear. This is the only game I play where I will feel real fear when I play. The reason this game incites real fear is because you only get one life. You can have dozens of hours into a game, and a character, and just lose it all. You're mostly on borrowed time until you can find some protection from the game's many insta-deaths. Even then, survival is far from assured. But for a game that seems so unfair, for almost every death, there was some way for you to avoid it. So for the most part, your death is because of your ignorance.
To remedy that ignorance, you can read the spoilers, or you can learn the way I did. With blood. Elf blood, human blood, orc blood, dwarf blood. Dead valkyries, dead rangers, dead samurai, dead rogues, dead barbarians. As long as you learn from each death, you're improving.
So, atop of small hill of dead avatars, I quaff my potion of booze to 10 years of dead @'s, and to 10 more!
Sure it's the hardest game I've ever played, and it's the only game that does everything in its power to kill you in any way possible, and it comes with randomly generated insta-deaths, and you only get one life, and it's loaded with intentionally dangerous items, and its Gods are fickle, and it has a difficulty curve like a hockey stick, and... wait, where was I going with this?