'Why do we have to die in games?' asks Kate Bevan. The shortest and simplest answer is: because we die in the real world. The question strikes me as being a bit like 'Why do people have to die in books?' Once again: because, though it's a real pain, that's how things go.
Bevan's article is about computer gaming, my knowledge of which is close to zero, but anyway I'm now anticipating a response something like the following, on the basis of the sort of games that I do know. But (it will be said) games don't all have to mirror the point in life at which people die. No, of course they don't. But some of them will because, death being a part of life which looms rather large, people take an interest in it; death is a very clear way of symbolizing 'the end' in certain contexts. Bevan quotes a few answers to her titular question:
"Having your character die or fail is important because your actions have to have some meaning in the game, and to you."Can there be no meaning, though, without death? There can, there can. So can there be meaning without the hitting of a ball or the paying of rent, yet this is no reason to question why there should be games that involve the hitting of a ball, or why there should be Monopoly.
"Dying gives a game meaning"
"Kids need to learn that if they're ambushed by a horde of self-regenerating laser-festooned killer robots on an asteroid far from the main space trade routes in real life, they're not actually going to end up getting teleported out to the local Starbucks for a nice refreshing break."
Something else I'll add here. Even where death isn't overtly part of a given game, some of what happens in the game can seem to the participants or spectators a bit like dying. Hence chess and the dance of death , or the symbolic death of a dismissal at cricket. Hence the feeling of despair that comes over the supporters of a football team which is only a minute away from not losing a game when they see that ball sailing across the wrong goal-line. Games, to state the obvious, are often of the type that they can be lost, and death happens to be a powerful representation of the experience of losing.