Spectacular Mortality

Intersections of Punitive & Educational Player-Death

Death in the game is a rupture not merely of the narrative of the game or the experience of play, but the player’s fundamental identification as player-character. Player-death meant to function both punitively and educationally models this conscious separation through various degrees of spectacle and even partially relies on it in order to function. Within the scope of this essay, I will compare different degrees of spectacle in death scenes in Skyrim, Too Human and the Call of Duty series before raising questions regarding how spectacle or the lack thereof in Skyrim and Dark Souls compare against the balance between punishment and education in a particular game’s version of player-death. Ultimately, this paper is intended less to provide definitive answers to these questions than as a launching-point for further inquiry into the intersections of death, the spectacle, punishment and education in games today. Continue Reading