Suicide (video game terminology)
In video games, a player may commit suicide by purposely killing off their character. Although games typically reward players for surviving as long as possible, based on the game play mechanics of a game, it sometimes benefits a player to purposely kill their character.
Suicide should not be confused with purposely taking damage.
There are many reasons why a player might want to purposely kill their character in a game, here are several:
Some games off bonus points for ending a section with a lot of energy. For example, at the end of a wave in the shooter Megamania, you gain points for how much energy you have remaining when the last enemy ship is destroyed, and you get a special bonus if you have more than 37% left. If you're below 37% energy, it can be beneficial to leave an enemy ship alive, purposely die to get a new ship with full energy, then kill the last enemy ship in order to get the bonus points.
A deathwarp occurs when a player purposely kills their character to eliminate backtracking, a tactic very common in the speedrun community. For example, in the NES port of Rygar, you keep key items after you die, and dying sends the player back to the entrance point of the current map. Because of this, the player can collect a key item, then purposely die to return to the beginning of the map in order to bypass having to travel the return trip. The rules of speedruns will often specifically allow or disallow deathwarping.
An early example of this was seen in the in the 1990 Nintendo World Championship. The first contest required the players to collect 50 coins in Super Mario Bros. as fast as possible. One player realized that it was faster to purposely kill off Mario and play the same area of 1-1 multiple times rather than move onto 1-2 like the other players did, a tactic which helped secure his victory.
In games with multiple characters in a party, like role-playing video games and strategy games, there are often several tactical reasons to kill your own characters. Reasons include:
- Players will often kill off their own characters when they have harmful status ailments. A dead wizard is safer than one who has been charmed by the enemy into casting a fireball at the party.
- In games that respawn dead characters, it can be beneficial to purposely kill them. For example, in Left 4 Dead 2, it's beneficial to kill off a very weak character just before an upcoming spawn point so they'll respawn with full health.
- Sometimes games of this genre have events that trigger when a character dies. For example, several Final Fantasy games have the spell "Reraise" which, once cast on a character, brings them back to life if they die during that encounter. Casting "Reraise," then casting a spell like "Meltdown," which indiscriminately kills everything, including your own characters, is a common tactic.
- Many players like to prove their skill at an RPG by purposely killing all but one character and still beating the game.
Preventing a frag
In deathmatch games, a player receives a frag when they kill an opponent, and, the player with the highest number of frags at the end of the game wins. If a player is already near death, they may commit suicide in order to prevent their opponent from killing them and earning a frag. To prevent this tactic, many games subtract a frag from the player who kills their own character.
Some games only give access to the main menu after the character dies. For example, in The Legend of Zelda, Link has to die in order to save the player's progress, so, if a player needs to quit playing, they will have to purposely kill Link to save the game. You can press up and A on the second controller to jump directly to the save menu, but this feature is only listed in the manual, so, anyone who doesn't have or didn't read the manual won't know about it.
Many games autosave at specific points in the story. If a player is doing poorly, and they want to retry the previous section of a game rather than trigger the next autosave, they can purposely kill their character to try again. Although, if the game allows it, it's faster to just reload from the last save.
Players may commit suicide to manipulate random results. For example, if a loot drop isn't very good, the player may kill their character before saving in order to try for a better drop (again, simply reloading is usually faster). To prevent players from doing this, some games, like Mega Man Battle Network, are programmed to autosave immediately after loot drops.
Several games are designed to make the game easier if the player dies too many times. In these games, the player can purposely kill themselves as quickly as possible in order to receive these benefits.
- In Alundra, if the player has died around 16 times, they can unlock the Legend Sword which is so severely over-powered it kills most monsters in a single hit. A player may repeatedly kill their character in order to get this weapon.
- In A Dark Room, after the character dies several times by running out of food or water, they require less of either.