VIDEOGAMES THAT DEAL WITH YOUR DEMISE
Danger and death feature pretty heavily in videogames. There are various reasons why this is so. One is due to what you actually do while playing such games, which is pushing buttons. Since that is a purely physical act, it is best mapped to situations where there is not much thinking and success or failure is dependent on how good your reactions are. Hence the prevalence of sports sims and life-and-death situations. Modern computing power and advances like rag-doll physics enable reasonably naturalistic depictions of bodies responding to a hail of bullets but we are still lacking the technology and the knowhow that can successfully reproduce subtle social skills.
But so much danger presents videogames with a dilemma. Most games these days have a narrative arc with your character as the protagonist in the story. There is an ultimate goal that he or she is striving for and which, since it has already been written by the game’s authors, must reach. It is likely, though, that the protagonist will meet some untimely end before reaching the preordained end of his or her story. The dilemma is what to do in event of the protagonist getting killed.
The solution taken by most videogames is to pretend like it never happened. One moment your character is falling to her death because you totally misjudged that jump, the next moment Lara is back standing before the precipice as if that fatal error was nothing but a bad dream.
But a few videogames have come up with more inventive solutions than that. Here, in no particular order, are a few.
This game by Cinemaware cast you in the role of a world war one fighter pilot. The game interspersed gameplay which consisted of engaging the Hun in dogfights with diary entries written by a real life fighter pilot, describing his daily life. In real life these guys were known as the ‘20 minuters’, because the average lifespan of a rookie pilot was just 20 minutes. Inevitably, then, you the video gamer get shot down and killed at some point during the campaign.
At that point, scene depicting a funeral is shown along with all the victories and awards that pilot amassed before his death. And then a new pilot comes along, picking up the story where it was left by his predecessor.
You are Luke Skywalker, dishing out JedI justice to the nefarious forces of the empire. Only the force is not strong with you today because you just got shot to pieces (didn’t Han Solo tell you that hokey weapons were no match for a good blaster by your side?).
But that is OK, because you are Lego Luke Skywalker and your scattered lego parts reassemble themselves and on you go!
GRAND THEFT AUTO III-V
It had to happen. Living so dangerously, you were bound to get yourself fatally wounded. But fortunately for you this state has the best hospital ever to have existed and no matter how bad your injuries, you wake up from unconsciousness with nothing worse than a sum of money deducted from your bank balance.
ARRRRGH! You are dead. Cue cut scene of Elizabeth, the girl you are charged with protecting, administering an injection to bring you back from the dead.
STEEL BATALLION (I think)
There was a game involving mechs- huge bipedal walking tanks- and it might have been called Steel Batallion but I am not sure about that. The game cost a whopping £130, with most of that buying the huge twin-joystick 40 button controller you used to control your mech. One of those buttons was used to activate your ejector seat, enabling you to get out of harm’s way before your mech exploded.
If you did not eject in good time, you were dead. Really dead. The game would wipe your memory card clean of any progress saved up to that point.