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The Escapist - Killjoy

by Dhruin, 2007-02-14 09:22:21

An interesting piece in the latest Escapist tackles the issue of death in games, and RPGs in particular.  Titled Killjoy: How Inconsequential Death Took the Fun Out of Virtual Life, the article argues that the quick-death mechanics often found in RPGs have resulted in a culture of quick-save creeping and destroyed narrative tension:

It's tense frustration, really; at best, anxiety. The feeling is familiar to most people who have played a single-player computer RPG recently. Leading your party down a dark and mysterious cavern, your finger is poised over F2 or F5 or whatever button quicksaves. Every so often, you tap the button, watch a progress bar move, the action pauses for a moment, and then you get back to the tunnel. Suddenly, a spike thrusts up from the floor. Your wizard is dead. So it's F3 or F7, a longer pause - "LOADING" emblazoned on the screen - a hang in the music, and then the wizard's alive again, a few feet farther back. Perhaps you're wondering how your versions of the indomitable Conan, Gandalf and Robin of Locksley started dying faster than Dirk the Daring. More likely, though, you're just muttering about why developers can't find a way to speed up quickloading. It's supposed to be quick, after all.

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