On Health, Life and Death in Video Games


Not ever wound is grave, but you cannot ignore any of them. Infection is not something that may be taken lightly.

There are some other examples. Brytenwalda, a Mod for Mount and Blade: Warband. You have bleeding during a battle, and if you get downed there is a chance you will suffer an injury. The injury fixes itself after some time, so it’s not that much an issue, but it’s a welcome addition to the health system. Fallout 3 and New Vegas also shared some interesting ideas about slightly more demanding Health Systems. Damage to different limbs would influence your movement, accuracy, toughness or vision. Sure, you could fix your entire body just by visiting a doctor and paying 50 caps, but at least you did not feel invincible during a battle.

The problem with such health systems is that your life expectation is limited to your risk taking. If you enjoy battles then you might find yourself dying often, losing limbs or in the best case scenario coming our with a few bruises that have to be treated regardless. Survival games do need such systems however, since part of surviving is knowing when to play it safe, when to risk it, and then trying to deal with the results of your actions. You might jump off a big height, twisting your ankle or breaking your leg. You might get shot in the arm, and thus you have to get the arrow/bullet out and treat it. Maybe you will lack water or food for a few days and that too will influence you. The problem is that with RPGs this is a slippery slope. If you have a high magic RPG then you have ways of quickly treating different injuries (Healing Potions, for example). That does not mean such injuries should not be present! I can almost imagine a duel between you and a monster where bones would be broken, or different organs punctured, and it wouldn’t be just a question of hitting a monster for enough HP, but hitting it where it counts. So, for example, blinding it first, with arrows, and then using long spears to try and puncture its delicate organs, while staying out of its arm range. Imagine what fights against trolls would feel like with their regeneration! However… such adventures might be extremely short lived, since killing “just a human” would be incredibly easy… but it’s still an open arena to experiment on!

I personally hope that game Developers will try to go the extra mile and try to offer us gamers new challenges with Health Systems that will be more complex than just sitting in the corner, waiting for your health to return, or to get back some “HP”. It would not fit every game (FPS Shooters especially) but other games? Especially if you offered such an optional Health Game Mode?  I would give it a try at least.

Alex “WriterX” Bielski


About The Author

Aleksander "WriterX" Bielski
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Student of Psychology, he was identified as a Nut-Job even before he started the course. Having done some small work as a Modder for a number of titles, and worked as a Game Designer part-time, Alex now writes in third person. As Co-Owner and Editor of AlterGamer.com he aims high, while being armed only with a sling. In the future, he hopes to become a fully qualified Newspaper Editor, and purchase Google.

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