Sunday Thoughts: Death In Gaming

I’ve never thought about death in a morbid way, and I’ve certainly never wanted to kill myself, but sometimes, when I think I could die in a given situation I wonder what the music would be if that particular part of my life was a movie, or a video game. It’s normally in an aeroplane, for example, and not when faced with editing one of Tuffcub’s articles – they’re scary, but they won’t kill you.

Ergo, if I had three and half minutes to live, like, for example, if said aeroplane was plummeting towards the earth, I think I’d like to go out to Sunscreem’s “Love You More”.  It’s a brilliant track, the lyrics are nicely written and the whole thing builds nicely to a fitting end – the final crescendo of the song would be the point when I hit the grass, I’ve thought, after falling just shy of 30,000 feet through the clouds.

If this were a videogame, my on-screen avatar would surely perish, and I’d perhaps be faced with a loading screen, the absence of any equipped weapons and a minus one to my lives tally.  There would be no inward retrospective, no panic to call loved ones, no sense of dread because, well, it’s just a videogame – there’s no persistance and no real sense of consequence.  Especially if you’d just saved the game before the engine fell off.

It’s bizarre, to me, that in well over 25 years of playing computer games, more than most of the readers of this blog have been alive, I’ve never once felt like the death of my character had any meaning beyond a small inconvenience.  There’s only one title that I can think of that actually made me scared to die in-game, and that was Steel Batallion, which erased your saved game if you bit the bullet before ejecting.

RPGs allow multiple save slots, shooters have evenly spaced magic checkpoints, you’re never going to die in a racing game and, crucially, flight simulators replace the terror and chaos of a crash with a bitmapped explosion.  It’s sad, that in an age where the press are obsessed with minor taboos like sex, bad language and alcohol that the likes of Middle England hasn’t had the need to freak out a game accurately portraying death.