In response to "Disney-Colored Death" from The Escapist forums:
Very interesting article, and one of the best I've read on the Escapist for a long time.
And you're quite right that in any other narrative media the prospect of death is the great source of pathos, and something which games lose out on when any 'death' is impermanent. I have been thinking about what mechanics you could use to get around this, but the obvious ones (such as 'permanent' death) just result in games which are either boring, or frustratingly hard. Hmmm.
On a tangent, your aside about the impact of the death of cute animals is also quite interesting in of itself. Why are cute animal deaths always so powerful, when human deaths can be shrugged off?
I recently read on George RR Martin's blog (he's the author behind Game of Thrones) that after the episode in which Lady (a pet) was killed, many viewers wrote and said they were very upset and would stop watching the show.
He obviously explained in his post that the dog playing Lady was not actually killed, and was in fact being treated very well etc., but also noted:
Rhodri Hosking, the young actor who played the butcher's boy Mycah, was not actually killed either, though oddly, no one seems quite so upset about him
It's a strange world we live in...
The movies described had definite lasting impacts on the lives of those who watched them. As I read the description of Mufasa's fall and Simba's reaction, tears started to well up in my eyes as I replayed it in my mind. The Lion King was a childhood favorite of mine, and even now 17 years later, I can still remember every moment of that scene, and it still has the ability to touch me emotionally.
Only one game has ever hit me that hard: Half Life Episode 2. The ending of HLE2 had me in hysterics, for a week after I had tearful flashbacks, and I still get tears in my eyes just to think of it now. That scene hit me so terribly hard, mostly because my dad is my most favorite person in the world. He's the one family member I feel truly understands me and cares about me. To see such an emotionally charged moment between a father and an utterly helpless daughter...that will stick with me for a very long time.
In today's industry, the standard seems to be to keep characters around just in case there's a sequel, lest you end up with some ridiculous Liquid Ocelot scenario. I think this cripples a player's ability to form a true connection with the characters they play as and alongside. All love songs seem to agree that the hardest part of connecting with someone is the worry of losing them, but you never seem to be able to truly lose someone in a game world. Even if they're held captive by the bad guy, you know you're going to be rescuing them later, so what does it matter if you take a moment to explore a few side paths and secret areas? Until game developers can present us with scenarios where the loss of a character seems real, and the prevention of that loss is directly related to our actions, we'll never fully connect with the characters they create and never fully submerge ourselves in the worlds they build.
In response to "Mickey, Donald, and You" from The Escapist forums:
FWIW, in Finland Donald is somewhere around demigod status (The weekly Donald Duck is the highest-subscription magazine in the country - and you'll notice he gets top billing) while Mickey, though starring in his own stories, is roughly at the status of a sidekick. Probably a bigger deal than Gyro Gearloose or Magica De Spell, but small fry compared to Uncle Scrooge or Daisy.