This video of classic game deaths reminds me of Lisbeth Klastrup’s insightful article “Why Death Matters: Understanding Gameworld Experience”. In her contribution to the World of Warcraft Reader she also notes:
Studying the experience of death and the death penalty should … be a pivotal element, not only of game mechanics, but also in the social and visual design and analysis of worlds like World of Warcraft.
Possibly, this holds true for games in general and points to some important questions for game character analysis.
- First, concerning the game character as a fictional being: How is death depicted in games? Is there a diegetic explanation for the protagonist’s resurrection? Or: Is NPC death set up as an ‘emotionally significant’ incident?
- Second, concerning the character as a game piece: How is death implemented into the game design? What is the penalty? Can dying be a strategic move?
- Third, concerning the avatar as a representation of a player: Is game death a ‘socially significant’ incident? What role do ‘death stories’ play for the construction of one’s virtual identity?
Some food for thought, indeed.