The Different Types Of Video Game Deaths And How They Follow Our Culture

Alright, so, excluding games that have removed your mortality, people who cheat, and games that are WAY too easy, it is reasonably safe to say that you are going to die at least once in a video game . Death has changed since early video games, It has warped hugely from it’s frustrating roots to the pleasant stems we see today, and in a way you could say that it has reflected the generational differences from the original commodore 64 boys to the subculture of gamer’s present today. First you had the…

  1. Final Death/ “You An’t Comin’ Back Bro”

Think Minesweeper, you die, you’re dead.  The first video game that incorporated player death (as in first one that wasn’t based on board game)” Spacewar!“ was a two player game. When you died, you started the game over and accepted your friend as the winner. It was simple and good sport, not to insinuate that there wasn’t a fair amount of trash talk (racial slurs were much more common in the 60′s) but when you died, you were dead, you played again.

“I knew you would come crawling back Dave”

This was acceptable at the time just because the game was so simple. The game had no story to play through, no cinematic to ignore, you died and you were back on the horse the second you bought your friend a soda for a nickel. It was a simple method, that reflected the simple game. It also reflected the short attention span the people of the time had for staring at a screen when they could be killing Vietcong. But as we got past the dawn of the hippy movement and into the 70′s, reality avoidance started to steadily slip away from Mushrooms and “incense”,now people needed to blow off some steam in the new world of video games! Games began to encourage extended play, the term “High Score” became more socially acceptable to say, and…

2. You Can Come Back! (This Time)

Multiple Lives make their mark, Space Invaders became a blockbuster, and things were sitting at the highest gaming had ever been. No longer limited to older college kids that scripted it onto their own computers, everyone could play them. Video games stopped being an uncommon obsession, and the industry even got the backing of Frank Sinatra!  YouTube Preview Image

Arcades started popping up and people without coordination needed to feel like they got to play for a little while with their dime, money had to be made without holding the expectation that your consumer base has any skill or ability. So how do you accommodate? With a few do-overs of course! Games were getting longer and who had the time to start your score over every time ? You had to get to see Star Wars: A New Hope in an hour, but if you didn’t get the high score and push it in every other kid’s face or your day was incomplete!

But in the same time period as the multi-life system came into play, something even better system popped up outside of arcades on the home-computer (since that was a word now), something that gave you the option to…..

3. “Just Load Your Saves Man”

Saves, the bread and butter of death-dodging. At this point man no longer had consequences for his actions in games, and could now play games for days on end without filling several 2-liter bottles with urine.

And if you look here kids, you’ll see a man’s quiet cry for help

It began with codes.If you got far enough to find a code, you earned yourself being able to type it in and return to that spot. Which even had a bonus over later save systems of being transferable from system to system and cartridge to cartridge. It made sense, you game it up at the arcade, play a few times and move over. However, at home you sold your soul to the dark Atari Gods to be able to beat a game through sheer persistence and Cheetos. Floppy disks and a few non-code save-states were made for the huge community of loyal pc gamers, you could just save your game whenever without even needing a code.

Games saves could have stopped here (I’m a bit glad they didn’t),as the ability to just go back to before you died just gave you true immortality. The only thing that would knock you back from where you were in the game was not having saved Recently. It is a system that was so successful it caused the video game surge of the 80′s, where you had saves, multiple lives, and feathered hair. The gaming movement was pushing into all audiences, trying to earn everyone’s dime.

Now it’s time to point out how inept gamers under 30 (myself included) are compared to the gaming god’s of yesteryear, because in the very end of the 80′s and into 90′s came….

4. “Don’t Cry, You Can Try As Many Times As You Want, You’re A Winner.”

Zelda Ocarina of time rocked my world hard, but the challenge in the game was seldom coordination or killing things, it was the puzzles. It had to be, because the when you died it gave you the option to pansy out, continue with saving, or continue without. It ASKED you if you wanted the game to save for you and start you at the dungeon entrance again.Sound familiar? It’s the no-fail teaching method in practice. This system is still used now, in call of duty games and the like. It makes you have to redo the level from a chosen checkpoint when you die, and the more you think about it, the more coddling it sounds. Dont Believe me? Tell a modern game-player to beat Symphony Of The Night. I guarantee if he beats it, he will spend more time stuck on the more technical parts than any part of any Halo, Call Of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, or portal combined. The second you have the courage to download it on Xbox Live Arcade and yell “I can do this!’ The game’s grim reaper responds with

And again and again

But if auto saves are coddling, the last one is what is currently seeping in, and it’s bad news guys, because now we have…

5. “Death, what death?”

I’m not talking about a game that doesn’t allow you to die. I’m talking about a game that starts you at almost exactly where you were with little to no consequence or sometimes keeping the enemies you killed dead.  This isn’t your teacher letting you take the quiz over and over till you pass, it’s the teacher that beeps at you annoyingly when you circle the wrong answer, and lets you try that answer again. Examples? Too Many. Bioshock, Prince Of Persia,and Borderlands are the ones that come to mind immediately. The fore and latter cost a paltry sum of Pesos to revive yourself, and the middle costs you an achievement.

This is the participation award, the “everyone is special” of gaming.Kids and future gamers are brought into adulthood on the pretense of being able to win without effort, and when a walkthrough is just a Google away, can you blame them?

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