The Philosophy, Art, and Social Influence of games
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J T
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Death

by J T Fri Sep 27, 2013 11:21 am

Do you think any games really handle death well? Can a game really illicit fears of mortality or bring about the process of grieving? Or is part of the fun and charm of video games that we have extra lives in the game space and we don't have to face the horror of the ephemeral nature of life?

In real life there are no 1ups, but there is a Game Over. Maybe we would appreciate life more with a second chance, or maybe we would just be annoyed that we were sent back to the last checkpoint.
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TSTR
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Re: Death

by TSTR Fri Sep 27, 2013 11:49 am

Well, there's the concept of permadeath in some games that could certainly illicit fears about your player character's mortality; in addition, I assume some form of grief would set in upon hitting such a scenario and feeling the loss of time spent, character build, game progress, etc.

Although, to make the leap from fearing for a player character to contemplations of one's own human mortality is a tricky thing indeed. I'd have to think long and hard to try and come up with some examples.
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Re: Death

by Ack Fri Sep 27, 2013 12:00 pm

I think the greatest comes from what I consider an otherwise mediocre game, Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story. When faced with defeat at any point in the game, a personification of Death would appear, and Bruce Lee would have to fight it to regain his wind. I appreciate this idea because it gives a literal interpretation of "fighting for one's life," turning a gameplay concept into a character that can be interacted with the same way the rest of the game is.
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dsheinem
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Re: Death

by dsheinem Fri Sep 27, 2013 12:04 pm

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TSTR
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Re: Death

by TSTR Fri Sep 27, 2013 12:11 pm

dsheinem wrote:Resurrection!

Whoa, it's like returning to an IRL checkpoint!

Ack's even playing the same way again!
2010 Ack wrote:What about lesser known games like Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, where if you died Death would come for you, and you'd have the opportunity to battle for your life against him. If you could beat Death, you could get back up and continue fighting, but Death was no pushover.

2013 Ack wrote:I think the greatest comes from what I consider an otherwise mediocre game, Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story. When faced with defeat at any point in the game, a personification of Death would appear, and Bruce Lee would have to fight it to regain his wind. I appreciate this idea because it gives a literal interpretation of "fighting for one's life," turning a gameplay concept into a character that can be interacted with the same way the rest of the game is.
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BogusMeatFactory
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Re: Death

by BogusMeatFactory Fri Sep 27, 2013 12:26 pm

Death can be played with in interesting ways with a lot of games. Games like Soul Reaver used death as an obstacle, transitioning you into the spiritual realm. Other games like Demon's Souls use death as well in strange and interesting ways.

One of the games I love that handles death in such a great way is Heavy Rain (I know I know). When the character dies, they die and the story moves on. What makes it great though is that, the further along in the story you go, the more you fear making a mistake and losing the character. You desperately wish for them to succeed and make it, even if that may not be the final outcome. The way they handle this though can only really be sucessfully integrated in games of a similar genre.

I do think that we are too forgiving with death in some games. Maybe not just "Game Over" and start again, but they should create consequences for death, like what they do with Demon's Souls. Yes, people credited it for being too hard, but people also credited for being an excellent game.

A few MMOs bakc in the day had wys for your character to permanently die and that struck fear in the heart of the players. They were more cautious and played the game drastically different than in normal ones. They would communicated with everyone and the overall environment seemed a lot more friendly because survival was essential for everyone.

That is why I tend to play games like Minecraft in Hardcore mode, making death be the end of the game. That changes how I play and forces a set of rules on me to play by and in the end, enjoy it far better than just running around doing whatever I want with reckless abandon.
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Re: Death

by AppleQueso Fri Sep 27, 2013 12:32 pm

Steel Battalion will actually wipe your save if you fail to eject and your pilot dies.
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Gunstar Green
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Re: Death

by Gunstar Green Fri Sep 27, 2013 1:02 pm

I know I talk about them a lot but the Wing Commander games really had an effect on me as a kid. It was real war and if your buddies died they weren't coming back. The later games when the story became more complex had scripted deaths but they had a bigger impact because the characters were more fleshed out.

Some of the deaths and sacrifices in Wing Commander 2 through 4 really cemented that series in my young mind as something totally different from what I was used to in video games.
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Re: Death

by BogusMeatFactory Fri Sep 27, 2013 1:07 pm

Gunstar Green wrote:I know I talk about them a lot but the Wing Commander games really had an effect on me as a kid. It was real war and if your buddies died they weren't coming back. The later games when the story became more complex had scripted deaths but they had a bigger impact because the characters were more fleshed out.

Some of the deaths and sacrifices in Wing Commander 2 through 4 really cemented that series in my young mind as something totally different from what I was used to in video games.


I am glad you bring this series up as it is one that everyone always overlooks (I don't totally blame them though since the last one came out sooooo long ago). You are right, failure wasn't the end either. If you failed a mission, it set you down a different branching path that could ultimately lead you to a bad ending.

Little known fact about Wing Commander 3. Rachel Coriolis, the mechanic in the game... pornstar.
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Re: Death

by Hatta Fri Sep 27, 2013 1:17 pm

The funeral you get when you die in Wing Commander is also rather touching.
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