Nethack is a lot like golf. Both are incredibly hard to do well. Both produce slavish devotion and soul-crushing frustration in their players. Most players never come close to playing a proper game (shooting a Par 72 round or Ascending a character), but we all dream of the day when the planets line up and we play the perfect game. In my case it took nineteen years of occasional play from the precursor 'hack' on 68000-based Sun workstations in 1987 to my first ascention.
In both, hours and hours of careful gameplay can be rendered moot by one screwup. However, golf is more forgiving because it does not have the concept of insta-kill. Imagine if Tiger Woods hit out-of-bounds on the first hole of a three day tournament. In golf, he would take a penalty shot and continue play. In nethack, he would be frozen in place, devoured by a kitten, and never heard from again.
The secret of this game is that for twenty years, no effort has been spent on presentation. The game screen is a cryptic jumble of letters and punctuation that would look familiar to a 1980's terminal user. Instead, twenty years of effort have focused exclusively on improving the gameplay, covering each and every possible thing, no matter how unlikely, that someone might try.
If you would like to try, go to http://www.alt.org/nethack/
Most Annoying Deaths