The many deaths of video games – Reader’s Feature


Flashback – the art of dying

A reader admits to a strange fascination in killing himself in video games, and attempts to explain why…

I’ve killed a lot of people/aliens/zombies/animals and I myself have died many, many times. Gaming is literally the only hobby where that is a legitimate statement and some people would even see it as an impressive badge of honour. I’ve been burned to death, impaled on a tree limb, been eaten by a carnivorous plant as I tried to jump over it, I’ve been torn limb from limb, I’ve fallen and crumpled into a broken heap at the bottom of a cavernous drop, and I’ve been mauled to death by all manner of live and undead fauna, to mention a few of the thousands.

I’ve died so often that death has lost its potent sting, so much so that I’ve actually went a step further on my macabre odyssey and gladly brought the death upon myself, suicide as a strategy as it were. It’s odd, weird behaviour, isn’t it? Like a self-help group I’d like to stand up from my hard-plastic chair, raise my hand and say I’m Dieflemmy and I commit suicide in games and as a form of catharsis, I’d like to talk about the many ways I’ve killed myself.

I guess the first time you’ll die if you’re a gamer from my generation would be the old classic missed landing. Some games make the gap and tolerance of a jump so close as to be nigh on impossible to make without pixel perfect positioning. By the way, damn those designers all to hell, I kind of hope one day they find themselves trying to jump off a burning building on to another and unsure if they’ll make the jump only then will they understand the psychic torture they inflicted on their victims.

Beyond the making the jump, if you fail enough times you’ll cross the side from really trying to the dark side of sadistically splattering your terrified avatar onto the side of whatever ledge they’re trying to gain purchase on, a sick and twisted release to the anger of your ineptitude.

To name drop, this was inspired by Delphine Software’s Flashback on the Mega Drive; a gorgeous, beautiful game with a great story but some wicked jumps and more than a few times I brought the curtain down on Conrad’s adventure by tumbling him into the bottom of a lush ravine… and it wasn’t an accident. For that I am sorry to Conrad’s relatives and friends (not really).

The next self-termination that sticks in my head is the intentional incendiary. This type of grisly demise is usually the purview of a first-person shooter, something like Doom or Half-Life. I find myself going either for the old classic of grenade at the feet or if I’m feeling saucy I’ll plump for the overkill of downward pointed rocket launcher. Method aside what could force a man to take his own existence when playing some of the most upbeat game genres of all time?
In my case its usually because I’ve naughtily been trying to cheese a level or a boss and gotten myself inextricably trapped in the scenery. Damnit, I’ll mutter to myself as I bunny hop on the spot trying to find an angle I can pogo my way out of my predicament, the frustrated boss usually stomping about out of reach below or above me. When I’ve accepted my fate then it’s just a case of selecting the most entertaining option for dispatching my clumsy Freeman Doomslayer and I can’t help hoping the explosion sends my stupid body parts spiralling everywhere.

Another memorable method of deletion I favour for strategic reasons is a hail of gunfire, the equivalent of a band playing their floor-filling, stadium pop ballad signature song. I usually save this suicide for stealth games, games like the Metal Gears series, Syphon Filter, Hitman, and Splinter Cell. The actual prescribed method of tackling these games usually involves the patience of Job. Carefully and slowly uncovering the bad guys, learning their patterns, looking for openings, and clever distractions as you execute a cunning plan the likes of which would leave Blackadder a slack-jawed devotee to your genius.

However, there’s a plan B which is less subtle and nuanced and involves me running straight into the murderous diorama and seeing how far I can get and how much I can see of the enemy placements and munitions. Like William Defoe in Platoon I get shredded to pieces by the gunfire of an army of bad guys annoyed that I don’t follow rules. I call this intellectual masterpiece the 1% play because there’s a 1% chance that I can blast my way through the area or kill every single punk there. The point though is that I can take my newfound ill-gotten knowledge and tackle the level this time with the type of intelligence Jack Bauer would be happy to have. This new attempt is what I call the 50% play.

The final method is self-immolation in the burning wreckage of a car. In third person action games you usually have cars and bikes as a form of long distance transport. While availing of these handy conveyances you will be presented with ramp after ramp, usually naturally woven into the landscape but somehow designed to catch your eye. This is unfair, it’s almost like they want you to do yourself in and yet I can’t resist the Pavlovian response of flinging myself irresponsibly over them into my inevitable and self-inflicted death. So senseless, so fun.

Murdering yourself should not be either fun or satisfying but only gaming can take such an incongruous and gruesome statement and make it legitimate and in some quarters a badge of honour. So, there we have it, it’s the year 2018 and sick people like me play video games, is it really any wonder the country’s in the sorry state it’s in?

By reader Dieflemmy (PSN ID)

The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.

You can submit your own 500 to 600-word reader feature at any time, which if used will be published in the next appropriate weekend slot. As always, email gamecentral@ukmetro.co.uk and follow us on Twitter.





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