That is the question that many developers are asking themselves…
I recently read an article (“In These Games, Death Is Forever, and That’s Awesome”) on Wired.com focusing on the idea of permanent death for video game characters, and I found that the notion was intriguing enough to warrant some discussion. Yes, even if that discussion is solely with myself.
For those of you who didn’t bother to click the link above, the gist of the article is that there are several video game developers starting to toy with the concept of a permanent death for the player character, whereby once that character is dead, he/she cannot be used again and the player must continue the game with a whole new character. So, for example, any weapons, items and abilities, or even the connection the player has established with their main character will be completely eliminated if the character were to die. The player would then have to establish a new bond with a new character. Items previously gained would only be able to be recovered by visiting the place where the previous character died, if at all.
It also felt like the article really tried to emphasize how awesome this idea is. It was actually the “awesome” part in the title that inspired my blog, as otherwise I might have just read the article, noted that it was an interesting premise and moved on. But it was that descriptor that gave me pause for consideration, because while the idea of permanent death in video games is an intriguing one, I’m not certain I would classify it as “awesome.” I can see a few pros to the concept in action, but I see far more cons or potential stumbling blocks to making it a logistical or mainstream reality.
So it was with that thought in mind that I opted to blog about the good, the bad and the ugly of what will from here on out be referred to as permadeath.