Dying in games

  Kate B 18:02 22 May 2007

OK, I'm writing a think piece for the Guardian on dying in games, and I'm wondering what you all think.

I think I'm going to argue that in RPGs and MMORPGs at least it's an outdated and unnecessary paradigm that slows down the player's enjoyment of and progress through the game.

To my mind, the notion that you must periodically die in games derives from conventions of arcade games, where the machines must make money by killing you off a set number of times and encouraging you to put more coins into the machines for more lives: Space Invaders, if you like.

I think it also goes further back than that, deriving from playground games where eliminating players by "killing" them is necessary to time-limit the game and bring it to an end by declaring the survivor the winner.

What do you think? Should gamers be allowed to get on with fighting AI and completing missions and quests without being dumped back at the start of a level/quest/mission and having to trek back over a big map? Or is it a vital part of the structure?

Incidentally, I've checked with the FE that he's OK with me posting this, and I won't quote anyone directly, but I'd really like your thoughts on this.

  Forum Editor 18:10 22 May 2007

but I'm interested in the psychology behind this, so I've been speaking to someone I know well who is a very keen game player - he's 27 by the way.

He says that for him dying has no real meaning in games - you get used to the concept at an early stage in your gaming experience, and it's just part of the way things are. He says that in fact he sometimes looks on the dying as a welcome little natural break - a pause for reflection, if you like - before a resumption. He reckons that if dying hadn't been part of the equation since the very start, something else would be there, some other imposed pause-point.

  FungusBoggieman 18:17 22 May 2007

I dont think dying in game makes much diference here.
I have just checked my stats on day of defeat and in the last 21 game that equals 3 hours and 35 minute and 37 seconds I have died 164 times.
ouch that hert.
that macks me just abit more carefull for the future.

  Starfox 18:19 22 May 2007

If you take Oblivion as an example of one of the newer games there is an option to *continue* when you are killed off and although it only takes you to the point of your last saved game it certainly is better than the old fashioned method where you had to start all over from the beginning every time.

As an avid gamer I agree with your idea of being able to carry on with enjoyment of the game rather than continually having re-play the same scenario over again and again.

Hope this helps.

  Totally-braindead 18:23 22 May 2007

Theres no real incentive to carry on playing the game and avoiding damage or whatever if you don't get killed or your car doesn't break down or whatever.
You could complete the game much quicker for one thing.
I mean if you play a level of a game and immediatly you get killed you can restart with the same amount of life you'll just get killed again and again, You'll be stuck with not enough life to carry on and if you get full life and restart exactly where you ended then a game that might take you weeks to complete could be ended in a couple of days. You'd just blitz thru it with no real effort to try to protect your player.
I personally think its a vital part of the structure.
RPGs I'm not sure about. Surely its the same sort of thing, if you do something stupid in a game then surely there should be some form of consequence? If not then as far as I am concerned theres no point in playing in the first place. You might as well just run right through it.
There has to be winners and losers in any game and the player dying or being knocked of is to my mind a reasonable way of doing it.

  Legolas 18:35 22 May 2007

I play games periodically Tombraider being my favourite. I think dying is a part of the game, often when I die it gives me an oppertunity to have a break. I hate games that dont give you the option to save and to start from that savegame and not back at the start of the level or mission.

It also makes the game more realistic if I get hit by a bullet or blown up I expect to die.

I have played games where I have found a cheat that will stop you dying but playing the game this way makes the game less exciting and less realistic. So I would say carry on dying.

  Kate B 18:38 22 May 2007

Hmm, interesting stuff. Does anyone use God mode or any other cheat via the console?

  Legolas 18:41 22 May 2007

Kate B As said in my post above I have played games in God Mode but not the first time round. I will normally find the God Mode cheat after I have played the game through and go back to replay at a later date.

  Totally-braindead 18:41 22 May 2007

Regarding save games, I do prefer it when the game gives you an option to save at a particular tricky point, theres nothing so frustrating to have to go through 10 minutes of relatively easy gaming to get to the tricky bit, get killed and have to go back through the 10 minutes of easy gaming to get to the hard bit again.
I also don't like cheats, if the game has a GOD mode you can run right through a game you've spent quite a bit of cash on and complete it far too quickly. I've had the odd game that was short enough anyway without using cheats leaving me sitting there going " is thats it, I was just getting into it".

  Kate B 18:43 22 May 2007

sorry, Legolas, I missed that - do you enjoy it more the first or the second time round? What do you get out of playing it in God mode second time?

T-b, is there such a thing as completing a game "too quickly"? Isn't it down to the individual to determine what the "right" pace is?

  Legolas 18:44 22 May 2007

Should also have said I don't always use God Mode but maybe will alternatively use "all weapons and ammunition".

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