2764.gifIf you think about all the times you've seen Game Over or some such message on your television or monitor, it's surprising how little attention its been given in the academic games world. The Japan chapter of the International Game Developers Association (Japanese-language link) recently pointed out that Glocom International University's Research on Game Design and Narrative (RGN) is researching the many expressions of death in video games with an end to provoking new, broader expressions. The RGN reported their first findings in an event that took place on April 9th - there's some confusingly translated English-language info (possibly better than nothing!) on GameStudy.org.

According to Otsuka Eiji, critic and novelist, who has written such books as Creation of the Character Novel, "At the realization that movies, manga, mysteries and the like can only treat a person's death symbolically, when related to groping toward the reality of death, I cannot but think that games--and novel-like games that use game language as a starting point--have not put forth more than a poor effort."

So what's Otsuka's solution? He proposes to rigorously analyze the current expressions of death within games, so that critical vocabulary can be developed to encourage a new viewpoint from which to think about and express the great beyond. At the Critique of Games site (Japanese-language link), which offers numerous databases of info from their research, you can see how games from Final Fantasy and Secret of Mana to GTA3 and Mario have been classified.

They are described in such categories as how life is represented in the game, the written expressions, if any, when characters kill or are killed, the way death is dealt with in the game mechanics and how the game represents blood, bodily harm and bodies. Maybe we can train all those supposed video game kids who are 'alleged' to be ready to launch violent attacks any day now to get into a career of death research?