Late at night your older brother shakes you awake, takes you downstairs, and proceeds to blow your mind with his gaming skill. After 30 minutes of awe inspiring feats, he hands you the controller and initiates you into the world of gaming. Together you conquer new worlds, and build a bond stronger than steel. Just before daybreak, just as your father prepares for work, just as your mom begins to make breakfast, you die. Instead of being angry, your older brother just laughs and hits restart.
Death the final frontier, the great unknown, the terrible divide. How something so ordinary and trite can instill within man a fear greater than any other, staggers the mind.
Human beings fear death almost as much as we obsess over it. We serenade death, we create artwork that portrays it in vivid detail. Entire film genres are devoted to showing it in the most gruesome light possible. As a society that fears death, we seem to spend a lot of time exploiting its very existence.
Could this be why death has such a revered place in our gaming culture? We rush to stores for the latest Call Of Duty title, desperate to riddle our friends with bullets. We shower praise on games, like Demon's Souls, which find new more ruthless ways to kill you with each installment.
Games have become more like training for the big day. We allow ourselves to die figuratively in hope that we won't be so shocked when the real thing happens. Maybe, we hope, death will be like Super Mario. Quick and to the point.
The game over screen is the perfect example of death's final grip. Black and to the point, it screams finality at any player fool enough to meet it.
Gaming isn't a past time, it's a rehearsal. Preparation for the final game over screen. Maybe, if we're lucky, we will get to insert more coins and try again.