The fear of death in games

During this scene the camera is set behind the hero in a very handheld third person shooter-esque manner and people are dying all around him from tank blasts and gun shots. The key to this scene is that the viewer is made to feel very tense and afraid for the life of the hero; the fact that there are mortal dangers all around him and that one false step might end up with him dying, despite being the protagonist in the film. It’s something more terrifying than when I was maneuvering Snake around the battlefield in the desert in MGS4, which while tense on harder difficulties, didn’t give me any reason to fear dying and plus I had a fucking gun. I felt very nervous during the Children of Men scene because of the combination of things stated above as well as the amount of gravity that the protagonist has on his quest and why he MUST save the woman he is trying to catch up with, or else.

Children of Men, as any good story should, takes the time to make you care about the protagonist prior to this scene. The movie makes you want him to succeed because his journey is truly scary and full of importance to this version of our world that we are viewing. The movie throws out little details that make you really feel that he is in fact not invincible and VERY mortal by wounding his foot and making his movement that much more impaired during such a crucial section.

The point of all of this blathering on and on about Children of Men is that I feel that this combination of elements to cause fear of death in Children of Men, a movie, is not implemented well, or at least well enough, in the majority of video games. Some games take elements (like Saw leaving you barefoot with areas that have broken glass on the floor, Mass Effect 2 has… a certain section… that leaves you helpless except none of the deaths incurred during this section are final) but on the whole this isn’t something that is put to use in games as best as it could be, at least in my opinion.

Here are some of my rough ideas to increase the tension and instill fear in players:

Injure the player : Injuring the player in some manner unexpectedly for an extended amount of time would both break up the overall control schemes feel as well as making the player worry a bit more about his or her actions just that little bit more. Suddenly things just get more real when your character cannot swiftly dive into cover.