I have thought about this a few times, and continue to dwell on it when thinking about what makes a good game. I have played many games from many genres and only a few make me think any real thought went into death.
“In a culture where death is a grim finality and where resurrection is only possible by the divine, videogames seem to shockingly trivialise death by adding to it the perspective of multiplicity.”
I hate to die in game. For instance, World of Warcraft. I have not achieved this claim to fame, but I know I have died half as often as my friends. Why? Is it the same kind of thing when you get a new car and as soon as you get your first ding, you stop caring and six months later your car looks like a rolling trashcan? I do not stop caring after the first ding. Speaking of cars, the same thing for racing games, I know for a fact that if you slam into a guardrail at 100+ mph, little driving capability is left in that vehicle, yet drive you can. Is it because some people accept the fact that they are going to die and do not worry about such things? Or maybe they like it? I am not saying there is a lack of commitment on players desire to live, nor am I expecting this level of penalization, but I would like more thought to go into the life or death logic within game play.
Not only should you be heavily penalized for dying, you should be heavily rewarded for not. What if in WOW (I use this soapbox as there are many subscribers) your xp slowed the more you died and therefore sped up the less you died? The more cautious and skillful players would level quickly while the button mashers and morons would fall by the wayside. Isn’t that the way it should be?
There are a myriad of options that could come into play when talking about proper respect for life. I am all for having fun and most games do not need to take the approach of caution over fun, but I for one would like to know that it matters to the developers that I want to live. If all I have to do is restart the level, run to my corpse or wait for my gear to lose its penalizations, where is my incentive to give a shit?
Again, I know that the object of playing is to have fun, but I know there are ways to make death unpleasant and fun at the same time. Make me mini-game my way back to where I was, or make me slower, or make me bigger or smaller, make me look stupid as I should after dying, make me stand out louder to the mob, provide a deeper storyline around the death action. Just something more than what is being done.
I take pride in not dying. I don’t like it. I care. Do you?