Mechanics Monday: Loss

Hey there, and welcome to Mechanics Monday! Sorry about not having an article last week, was taking a break for Martin Luther King day.

This week we will talking about loss in games, such as progress loss, permadeath and anything that involves losing something.

 Where did it become a feature?

Losing progress has been a feature since the early arcade games. Died in Galaga or Gauntlet? Lose all progress! Unless you pay to continue that is, but miss that 30 second time frame and all your precious hard work will be destroyed. So really, arcade games designed to eat your change employed it first in the video game world.

 What made it popular?

Well once the era of arcade machines was over game devs found themselves with players who actually wanted difficult games, to test their skills. After making these games Nintendo eventually got it’s own term in difficulty known as Nintendo Hard. Eventually other game developers began to notice the audience for harder games, and started developing systems in place.

Fire Emblem ( First released in Japan in 1990, and in America in 2003 beginning with the 7th game of the series) is renown for having a ‘loss’ mechanic. Whenever a unit dies in battle the unit is permanently dead. So say you lose some of your favorite units in a hard battle, well they’re gone.

Another popular game is the Souls series (Demon Souls, Dark Souls etc.). What happens in the Souls games is that when you kill enemies you collect souls, then those are used to level up and as currency. When you die they are left as a bloodstain, and if you die before you get to them they’re gone for good.

 How does it affect gameplay?

The placement of a loss system can really enhance the atmosphere of the game. Such as the Souls series being very depressing and hopeless, being able to lose your souls adds to that. Fire Emblem’s unit loss makes you think more tactically to not lose your men. It also adds a sense of your actions actually having consequences instead of just existing in a vacuum of save games.


What’s your biggest loss in a game? Tell us in the comments!

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