Talking point: Are “game over” screens bad design?

game over screen

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Failure in video games, such as temporary death or restarts, is a good thing. Always has been. It keeps the player going, gives him another chance, and encourages him to finish the game. But the more I think about it, the more the designer in me dislikes “game over” screens, especially premature ones.

The reason: they’re a lie.

A game is really never over. Even after I beat a game, I’m looped back to the start screen, from where I can re-engage And a temporary game over screen after expending my limited quota of lives is even more ridiculous. The game isn’t over. With the click of a button, I can start again. (Limited vs unlimited lives is altogether another discussion.)

Since games have always been perpetual, why didn’t early designers use a “Try again?” screen instead, which is more appropriate, not to mention what designers are hoping you’ll do anyways. Am I wrong?