What does death mean in videogames? It used to be about quarters, but now …

Permadeath games like DayZ “are just about survival, and when you die, that’s it,” says PBS Game/Show host Jamin Warren, and that’s a huge change from gaming’s arcade days. But what does that mean for us, as people? Does permadeath have anything to teach the player? Yes, says PBS, because you never know whether you’ll be alive tomorrow, and pretending it won’t ever happen to you does you no favors. Take a look at the video, and wonder what you’ll do on that day – it may not be far off – when your own mortality becomes a concrete, rather than abstract concept.

Denial has consequences. Death anxiety – the awareness, and fear of, your own impending doom – only increases over time, if you try to ignore it. Whereas accepting the idea of death can decrease depression, and encourage participation in more life-affirming activities. Plus, knowing your Diablo toon could vanish like a puff of smoke any second is a hell of a rush, keeping you focused on the present. It’s odd to think that DayZ could be our version of Memento Mori , or that something like ZombiU has a greater philosophical message hidden in its bug-out bag, but maybe PBS has a point: permadeath might have its uses, above and beyond game play.

Interested in more of these? Then check out the PBS YouTube channel.

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