design language: satisfying death

In hard fun games, dying can be a release and crafted to be a good, satisfying experience.

“Ravaja reaches an amazingly counter-intuitive conclusion: Gamers don’t like shooting their opponents, but they’re suffused with pleasure when they themselves are shot dead… Dying was, in some way, fun.”

“His much weirder experimental result, though, is our thrill at dying. Ravajas thinks this might occur because getting killed is “transient relief from engagement”: A first-person shooter is so incredibly stressful that we’re happy to get any respite, even if it requires being blown to pieces.”

“…in a shooter like Call of Duty 4, the emotional current flows like this: I’ll be racing through a war-torn building, hunted down by cackling terrorists, and watching as the blood leaches into the periphery of my vision. My stomach’s in knots, and I’m frantically looking for cover when boom — I’ll stumble into a room full of guys with shotguns and get a face full of pain.
As I watch my corpse crumple to the ground, sure, I feel annoyed. But my annoyance isn’t as powerful as my sense of release: I can feel my whole body unwind. Indeed, I’m often so wrapped up in the game that I don’t even realize how badly I’m clenched up. I may not want to die; but for the sake of my mental health, I probably need to.
Yet, not all deaths are equal. This sounds strange to say, but there are games I enjoy getting killed in more than others, because some designers have a much better sense of how to craft an aesthetically — and ludologically — satisfying death. ”

“You could think of it as “the architecture of death,” and game designers ought to pay more attention to it.”


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