Death in Video Games

5/8/12 – The iconography of the skull and the image of death in Video Games. 

Dark Souls

Over the past few weeks I’ve beginning to notice quite a lot of video games depicting death and the image of the skull. Is the skull a recent trend within the video game genre or have violent video games always been a high selling point?

I do remember playing dark souls, which is a very dark video game, which involves collecting souls from the dead. The game features quite a lot of skeletons and skulls, which begin to attack the main player who must search for humanity. I have played a small section of the game, although the game does begin with a dead huntsman who has been left to rot in the cellar of what appears to be an abandoned asylum. The character must find a way out from the asylum, which is plagued with walking corpses, which must be defeated in order to collect the souls of the dead.

I have not played the entire game as you can tell although the game frequently reveals corpses, skeletons and skulls that were evident within the very beginning of dark souls. Dark Souls is definitely not a game for the light-hearted, although it is a game that is definitely worth playing, especially for the visual effects.

The plot is very confusing especially for someone who is a beginner, although Dark Souls does provide the opportunity to play as a character that is already dead who must collect humanity in order to prevent insanity.

Darksiders II

Just before, an advertisement for Darksiders II appeared on television and all I was able to see was skulls for at least two to three minutes. I haven’t played the first Darksiders, although the latest video game within the advertisement features outstanding visual effects. According to Callum. W. Austin from the Sydney Morning Herald, Darksiders II is an apocalyptic video game, which features a dead ‘horseman’ although the actual storyline within the actual game is unspecified at the point in time.

Does death in a video game provoke a completely different response to the death in a horror film or a thriller? From a personal perspective it’s depends on the actual context of the film or the video game. There are some games there are definitely frightening, although a film may provide a closer connection to reality, which may provoke an emotional response compared to a video game.

Has games like Dark Souls altered the player’s perspective of death? It is hard to tell because the subject of death has a different meaning for each person, although video games may depict the skull as a popular icon or trend that is capable of capturing audiences from different age groups, cultures or backgrounds.

The Sims 3

The Sims 3 is a simulated game that was produced by Electronic Arts, which allows players to create families and control their entire lives.The Sims 3 has always been a favourite of mine and it’s a game I’ve always enjoyed playing, although the grim reaper does provide a very light hearted approach to death.

Once a sim has died the grim reaper shakes hands with the sim who then disappears into thin air. Family members can then chat or befriend the Grim Reaper before it suddenly departs from the household. The Grim Reaper isn’t frightening at all and the whole subject of death in the game is treated as another everyday scenario that causes more drama in the household rather than pain or fear.

The game does not have a high classification, which means that the game is designed for a young and mature audience. The whole concept of death is entirely unconvincing, although the game is definitely entertaining for all age groups.

These three video games are recent observations that I have discovered over the past couple of weeks, which also questions whether the subject of death has become a popular form of representation within digital or interactive media? Has virtualised violence withdrawn society so far away from reality that it becomes difficult to apprehend the subject of death? Video games may become a way to suppress the idea of death through digital technology or interactive media.

Austin, Calum.W, Darksiders 2 Hands on Preview, July 26 2012,, Sydney Morning Herald, 2012 (Accessed 5/8/12)

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2 responses to “Death in Video Games

  • Hecubus

    You make a good point, especially your last sentence. Who wants to die? In the video world you may be out, but resurrected. Even with Dark Souls or Demons’ Souls–you go back your soul form searching for your humanity. Nicely written!

    • Black Calavera

      Thanks for the comment, yeah I’ve only just started to play games like Dark Souls or left for Dead etc etc. Dark Souls, I find the concept quite difficult to understand although I do like the fact that as the player you cannot die in the game, which makes it so interesting. But yeah death in video games appears very popular at the moment.

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