Back in my day…
Arcade companies demanded you to continue feeding their machines quarters. So the longer you spent on the game, the more money the gaming company made.
If you died in a video game, you had to start over from the start of the game.
This is a slight misconception, however.
For instance, the first game I ever played was Super Mario Bros. Most gamers assumed that you would have to return to World 1-1 and start again when you died. Unknown to my family, if you held A and Start, you could restart from the last world you played! For this to work, the game system needs to stay on. There were no battery backups until The Legend of Zelda. My brother and I would leave games of NES Baseball on before heading to church to “save” our game.
One of our favorite games was Baseball Stars.
Baseball Stars was the first sports game with a battery backup. So we would build our team and play for hours until the game would freeze when you would hit a foul ball down the left-field line.
Games have changed dramatically since these days. Players today expect to have their game saved automatically and continuously. While playing Metroid Dread, I was stunned to find out that I had to make it to certain rooms actually to save my progress.
What if we made things even harder?
A compromise to games offering infinite lives and numerous save points is Hardcore mode. Games like Diablo utilize this option to give the players the ultimate challenge, no dying.
You may spend hours and hours building your character up to be the most incredible creation in the world, and one random mob of undead creatures will end your journey—no going back.
You can always start a new character and try again. Still, the added fear of losing so many days or even years of progress due to poor game management, wildly unlucky beasts, or a terrible internet connection gives the game a unique edge.
What if when your character died in the game, you died in real life?
Ok. Jumanji is truly hardcore.
What if when you died in the game. You no longer can play the game?
The game would self-destruct.
Create a portable game system that accepts physical media. When you die a game on the device, the media becomes unplayable.
Have Redbox-like machines where you can return games for a discount on new games or additional lives. People could even sell individual games with unique game states like reaching a high level or getting powerful gear.
It will be the beanie babies of video games.