It's surprising how after a life spent slaying virtual monsters, we still know so little about how to handle death.

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Welcome to The Escapist, and I'm sorry to hear about your loss, though admittedly I skimmed. (Because it is time to move furniture, people! Hooray!)

Very Morbid, For a First Article, Good, But Morbid...

Virtual Death, And Real death are vastly differnt I Don't think anyone would confuse the two in any ort of respect. Then Again Some People Would.

I'm sorry for your loss. I lost my uncle just over a year ago, and he was my best gaming buddy, so of course I think of him every time I fire up the 360.

It would be nice, however, if we saw a video game that tackled life after death, and by that I mean not the afterlife but how those left behind--the family and friends--push through. I understand that there is a game coming out for the PS3 that allows you to keep playing after you die, but I'd like to see something more: a game about death, not just a game with a more realistic grasp on death.

Again, I'm sorry for your loss and I hope to read more from you soon.

Very Morbid, For a First Article, Good, But Morbid...

Virtual Death, And Real death are vastly differnt I Don't think anyone would confuse the two in any ort of respect. Then Again Some People Would.

When i See someone die in a brutal immoral way in a Game i Laugh and don't mind watching it again

When i See somene die in a Brutal Immoral way in Real Life i get depressed,sicked,and very emotinally disturbed

Real life Death= Negative

Game Death= Positive

Thank you Leanne, thanks for reminding me of how storytelling lets us transcend reality so that we can better understand it.

Thank you Leanne, thanks for reminding me of how storytelling lets us transcend reality so that we can better understand it.

Welcome to the Escapist

I can still remember the only death I have really experienced, that of my grandfather, who died of brain cancer a number of years ago. Honestly, it never really hit me until last year, while I was driving to vacation and talking with my mom about him to pass the time. I've never equated death in games to death in life, though. I've always found that I maintain a level of disbelief with games that won't allow me to take them as reality. I've only ever actually felt the death of a character in one game now, and even that was barely a game (The Graveyard). Much as people say that we are being desensitized by violence in video games, any person that has felt the loss of a loved one in reality knows that no matter what you've done in a game, it doesn't ever prepare you for the real thing in any way. Watching someone that you've known for years of your life slowly slip away, and in my case watching your childhood hero literally lose what made him who he was, and watching him struggle against something he couldn't beat... nothing in a video game can ever prepare you for that.

Realization is earth shattering. Some leave no room for sanity. Others for happiness. Death is harsh. Cold. But without it, life is meaningless. It's sad, depressing, but it serves its purpose...

Sorry for loss.

Its scary how similar this is to my situation. My grandfather died yesterday and all I can think was "well he beat world war 2 and didn't even die once!"

A little morbid for my taste.

A very interesting piece, well written as well.

Thank you. Now I just have to stop myself from crying.

Death touches us like snowflakes, no two instances are alike. I myself have had to deal with a number of close family leaving me, and I have never stopped asking myself if I couldnt have done something different, spent more time with them. But I still continue, knowing that I was there for them during their life, and that I can go on with that comfort. Death in games doesnt affect me as much as when it happens in well-written movies. Clint Eastwood's latest actually help me find the moment I needed to mourn my father's passing. It is good medicine for both our body and psyche, and nobody should ever be discouraged from experiencing their own moments of grief.

Real sorry to hear that. Welcome to the Escapist, and good luck

I usually just shrug off real life deaths too.

Now it might be just that I am misanthropos and hate mankind (For thy part, I do wish thou wert a dog, that I might love thee something), but I never really understood why people are so...emotional about death.

Well firstly I would love to comment on how well written your piece of work is. It's been a while since I read something which has carried it's point so well in such a manner as most people who are reading it can understand.

I think that when you look at a video game you don't want that one little miss-step or that single mistake to carry such a large consequence. Keep in mind that people play to escape reality. In games death is always the least important thing which could occur to you because people don't want to be reminded of how harsh reality really can be.

Over my life time of barely 21 years I've lost too many people who I was close to, though with that in mind I never once related the loss of them to death within a game. Some games do handle death with a great finesse as it were. These games are of course the ones which are incredibly plot heavy, then again I tend to also read a lot of things such and manga and really nice novels. Things such as these also deal with death in a manner uncommon to the casual gamer or to the average person. In the pages of the above mediums I tend to find my heart wrenched quite firmly very often.

Death in the end is always a bad thing but it's also something we must confront. We're mortal we all know this, a lot of things have been done in the face of a person's own mortality, in an attempt to leave a mark. To be honest we all leave our own marks in life by the people we've known and the lives and lessons we've learnt and passed along. Never look to death as an end, simply the start to your own legacy. Because in death we also find what makes humanity great. We burn brightly for only a short while upon this earth, each and every one of us in our own way. Our light will touch others even if you don't know it.

So when another person you love passes feel sorrow and sadness of course. But also feel honor that you've learnt from them and that their light has helped your own to burn, that flame of knowledge adding to your own. Your own story is still continuing and in such you should live that story and walk your own path being grateful for those who have helped you along the way.

These are simply my own views on death. In the end we must all pass but we should celebrate the life of a person and what they stood for not dwell upon their passing.

I don't know if my passing views have given any one food for thought but I always enjoy a good discussion. Thank you for reading if you have been.

Glad I did not miss this article, or shut it down and get back to real work. Poignantly done Leanne. In games I play and in games I run (DM) realistic death, or, rather more realism has been a subject I have been looking for and trying to set up. You don't want days of depression, which will be familiar to everyone who has ever lost someone valued, but to attach some sense of tragedy to a story or see it in a video game or other medium, well it is part of the human experience re-told. On this subject I am reminded of how well Battlestar pulled off death and mourning (and hammering home the consequences of killing) and reading about it today, I wonder how Six Days in Fallujah will convey the tragedy of team-mates killed.

As a DM I try to throw in complications to the 'let's just kill it and solve the problem' solution. Trying to get pcs' to respect npcs' is a difficult road. How many of us have killed those poor hookers in GTA and laughed at their poor broken forms? Well it is the same in pen-and-paper rpgs. As it turns out, I have found the quickest and most entertaining way to force players' to not kill everything that dares to annoy them, is to plant the players' in a renaissance court where spies are assumed to be everywhere. Blatant actions means grisly ends. So they have to use their minds, respect the lives of npcs' or make bloody sure they had it coming. Death, suddenly becomes more real, and something to walk a tight-rope with.

That almost made me cry, as I remembered my grandfather died, and remembers the butterfly, that slipped through my fingers each time I tried.

Thank you for this article.

that story really touched me. trust me i know where your coming from when losing someone important to you and relating that to the countless deaths that i had in video games that just doesn't fully prepare you for deaths in real life but is teaching you how to live.

There's something about games that shows that we can't really deal with death in reality or in virtual reality. In reality, it's a question of how you move on, how you come to terms with the idea that this person won't be there. In virtual reality, it's almost a little insensitive. I mean, I'm not expecting the games to show a full funeral and the subsequent days/weeks/months of mourning for Lara Croft after I accidentally (or intentionally, if I'm frustrated enough - another flaw in games) throw her off a cliff, but a black screen with text that says, "YOU DIED. GAME OVER. Reload? Quit?" is a bit... distant.

But then, what would we do if virtual reality were to emulate life to the last detail? I remember a while back, there was a controversy over a game that wanted to use photographs and images of dead bodies from wars to create a realistic environment. There were protests from the families of the dead, naturally, but also protests from those that use games as an escape, and those that simply didn't like the idea.

What would we do? I think this is, perhaps, one of the things activists against violent video games might have a point on, if we ever get to the point where games show death realistically, whether it's how the pixels move on the screen or how the other pixels react. Not that it's the game's fault for ending up in the hands of children (parents should do their research - thoroughly! Not just what the rating is - and then determine whether their child should have it), but simply because I don't think people as a whole are ready to be emotionally untouched by death. I don't even think that being impassive to death is ever going to be a good thing.

For the moment, games are, in the cases the writer chose to mention, meant to tell a certain tale. The DEATHS involved are a part of that tale, not the results of the deaths. A reaction from the audience is all that is sought. It's the same for movies. These forms of entertainment aren't meant to prepare us for death, even if we interpret it that way. Perhaps we cling to the idea that this is what death is like because it's so much nicer than reality. Part of the escapism?

An interesting article, and I'm sorry for your loss.

I'm sorry for your loss. I'm glad you have made the connections you did. You have my respect and really, my deepest sympathies. I'm going to make another connection... Jack Thompson and others claim video games desensitize people to death and violence. Your personal experience says otherwise.
My grandmother died years ago, and to this day, I sometimes I STILL feel an overwhelming sense of loss. And this is in spite of counter-strike, the Postal games, GTA.. some of the most violent games out there. Most of us feel horrified when we hear of atrocities that occur in the world, again, in spite of the most violent games. Yet video games are supposedly making us immune to the effects of people dying. Pft.

Thank you very much for sharing your feelings. I'm glad the responses have been respectful and understanding :)

But then, what would we do if virtual reality were to emulate life to the last detail?

In a sense, it's truly impossible. In theory, yes, we could make the sounds perfectly lifelike. We could make the whole physical appearance lifelike. We could possibly even include all the smells, tastes, what-have-you. However, you can't include the connections. In the case of those you know, you have possibly years of knowing this person. You have a strong connection with them full of both good and bad. Even with people you don't know, it's not hard to feel for them because you can empathize with their families and friends.. with them themselves. So in the end, their ceasing to exist is a significant event. In a simulation, you still come down to the fact that the character who dies is just pixels. There was never a true connection... there is a suspension of reality and belief, yes, but in the end, you turn off the TV (or whatever device we can imagine) and you're faced with the fact that it didn't really happen.
What truly hits us with death tends to be the immense, irreplaceable loss. For many there is also the superstitious or religious belief of the loss of a soul.. or the essence of a person... a very profound event. I doubt a game or simulation could truly prepare anyone for the immense emptiness and loss. (I don't necessarily mean this part religiously...) Nor could a representation of death ever prepare me for actually witnessing the soul leaving a human body.. for a living, vibrant individual turned into a mere shell.


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