Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Death might not make WOW a world

Death on a screen whether it be a computer or silver one works often times to represent death as consequence. Essentially, death itself is not the focus of the viewer/player. It is the effects of that death on the current situation which is the point. And so death is seen as a character of causation and not effect.

I came to this notion in thinking on the aesthetics of death as described in Klastrup's article on WOW and in thinking about how death is displayed in the various movies/tv shows that are watched. These thoughts lead me further back to thinking of plays such as "Death of a Salesman" but here I have to stop b/c in thinking on this play imparticular I am forced to look back toward "American Beauty" which deals with death in an all together different fashion. Death in "American Beauty" is the end...the effect...and even though we see briefly its affects on the other characters the emphasis lies not at that point but on all the other points or causes that lead up to it. This is important and perhaps why the movie was such a hit b/c it demonstrates death acting as it does in the "real" world. What is death but the ending point of what is here a summation of all of the causes that we experience that leads up to that point?

So why is it that death in WOW and other videogames acts as a cause? Because perhaps as Klastrup points out there has to be an incentive for a player to play better. If this is so, can we then state that death is part of what makes WOW a world? I ask this last question because death is positioned in these games as counter to its function in the real world

1 comment:

Anthony said...

I'd still say that WOW death is not a death; more a non-non-death that functions as one of the game's core codes. So "death" is what makes it a game. To jump (back) to film, it's much like A Wonderful Life--an exploration of death's effects that leads to George Bailey learning a lesson. Again, perhaps another non-non-death. We never imagine that he risks actually being permanently dead, but it (the event of jumping off the bridge) certainly has some of the trappings of death. The conflict centers around if he can reset the pieces that his decision set awrong. A game. Yet you could claim that the middle of the film--the Clarence stuff--takes place in a different world, a virtual/alternate one in many ways. This, though, seems to deal more with generating a sub or parodic or Bizarro world (ever read Superman comics?). But maybe you could make the claim that that is what WOW is: a Bizarro version of our daily planet.