Game Design 101: Game Over

All gamers know about the 'Game Over' screen. This depressing screen pops up when a player has failed to achieve his or her task. The screen is synonymous with failure. So why does it exist?

When games were first being created, they typically existed on arcade machines. The idea of an arcade machine is that the player inserts a quarter, and gets to play until they mess up. As such, a screen was necessary when the player did mess up. It signaled "Put in more money". Devious, but it made sense at the time.

Somehow though, this idea got drafted into console games. In a Mario game, when the player runs out of lives, they get a Game Over screen. Is that really necessary? Does the player's failure need to be shoved upon them like that? Many players tend to get frustrated or lose interest upon hitting this screen.

Recently, the more fast paced games have done away with game over screens altogether. The player gets to keep trying until they decide the game is over, and not when the machine decides for them. This makes those types of game highly addictive. Granted, it doesn't work for all games. But don't feel obligated to make a game over screen for the sake of completion. It could do more harm than good. Make sure you follow us for more game design tips!