A interesting commentary at Wired ponders the thrill some of us get from dying in games. Basically, the more stressful the game is, the better the relief you get when you slip up an die. Killing others, on the other hand, causes stress:
When people killed an opponent, their electrodermal activity shot up, while their faces registered distress. “That is, instead of joy resulting from victory and success, wounding and killing the opponent elicited anxiety, anger or both,” Ravajas said. When gamers themselves were killed, in contrast, the sensors detected “positively valenced high-arousal affect,” he said.
In Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3, in order to summon a Persona your character uses an Evoker, which is not unlike shooting yourself in the head. The creators of the game used this unorthodox summoning technique because there is nothing in life much scarier than facing death. Xcomp, a blogger from the UK explains:
The most essential factor is the fear a Persona user feels when they put the gun shaped Evoker to their heads to pull the trigger. Usually when humans are in fear, they will awaken a certain part of their unconsciousness. Thus during that instant of fear, the Persona users go beyond the boundary of their consciousness, unlocking what dwells within their unconsciousness and summoning their sleeping Personas. You might not have noticed it but when the Evokers are “fired”, you can hear the sound of a lock being opened.
Outside of video games, I can’t think of any other simulation where you can experience what death is like through the eyes of a character. Even just starting a new game or resetting your file is like getting reincarnated–in other words, do-overs. Games like Disgaea push this idea of reincarnation further since you can go through the game over with stats from the previous time.
What do you think? Do games offer a systematic release of stress through death? Is it a good glimpse of your final moments, or just an annoying way to say “you lose”?