24 September 2007

8-bit suicide

Wasn't that always one of the first things you did as a kid? After you became bored playing the same shit, you'd start a new game to just see if you could throw yourself off ledges and find ways to kill yourself on purpose. Our first taste of suicide? Hmmm. There may be a real article in here somewhere but let's not go looking for that now, K?

I was never all that into video games, I never had the attention span, the skill or the patience. So the video game suicide urges usually came after only a few games; after I'd set it on 2 player and just leave the other control dead for a few games, I'd decide "OK, now I'm just gonna climb this ladder and try and jump off it" or "now I'm just gonna jump from that ledge to this bridge and I know I'll never make it".

The peculiar curiosity of death; vicariously living, or should I say dying, through your little 8-bit self.

Even years and years later, as a late 20-something on tour in Europe, after playing Tekken 3 for an hour, we'd have a suicide match just to see if we could beat the other player off the roof where he'd fall to meet his untimely doom.

So I guess now theres a game that capitalises on this suicide phenom/fantasy. Theres a new interactive snuff film called Pain.

The game, which will be released this fall for the PlayStation 3, has a simple premise: Using a giant slingshot, inflict as much damage as possible on your character. Fling him into the sky or slam him against a bus. Send him sprawling across a busy city skyline and onto the hoods of passing cars. The more creative the death, the better. Pain will even reportedly include an option for a kind of suicidal H-O-R-S-E, wherein players attempt to mimic each other's onscreen disasters.

It's probably genius, and the game has already garnered a good deal of attention. The company is simply riffing off a decades-old impulse, one that dates back to the earliest days of gaming. What'll happen if my car goes flying off the track? How about when Mario falls into the fire pit? From the first NES console to modern shooters, we've always used self-destruction to push at the edges of our favourite video games.

Click here for a slide-show history of video game masochism from Slate.

Screen shots from PAIN

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