Research: Death in Videogames

Given the way in which death is treated as either a reward or punishment in Opera, I am turning my attention to the way in which death is treated in videogames. I know that in animation, the breathing life into the inanimate and the treatment of death in Svankmayer and the brother quays film give a sense of the Macabre, and of course the discourse in the uncanny valley and the many texts that relate to cgi and the depiction of humans are all well worn paths. I haven’t looked at videogames through the lens of death before.. although the treatment of the ‘Gothic’ and its counterpart the ‘sublime’ are themes I have noted before now.

I am really interested in the following three things:

1) How is dying treated in videogames? As a reward or punishment?

2) How is ‘Death’ depicted in character and prop design in videogames. What are designers references, tropes? Is there an alignment with opera ?

3) How is Operatic orchestration used to create a sense of death and foreboding? What tracks are used? How do these relate to the game design?

The answers to these questions should inform my ‘Death’ character design which I will start to sketch tomorrow.

This article written in the guardian raises some really interesting points:

And also, this article which mainly talks about the death mechanic in games.

I like to see devs mess around with death and try new things. I mean, ‘death’ in games context is completely contrary to death irl, where you have one shot, that’s it, and we don’t know what, if anything comes next.–455792.phtml

Although I am interested in the mechanic of dying in videogames, I am interested in depictions of  death as a character and also games in which death, and the dead, are central to the narrative.


Depictions of Death 


Grim Fandango 

The Sims 

Deaths props (killing weapons of choice) 

Scythe 🙂

Alternatively games in which death and the dead are central themes (deaths work)

Meat boy

Silent Hill 

The Walking Dead