Video game accessibility is a crucial aspect of game design that has evolved over the years. From the inclusion of lives to the removal of the system, game developers have been constantly innovating to provide the best experience for their players.
Growing up, having lives was a staple in video games. It was as if it was a check box that needed to be considered a video game. More and more games seem to have got rid of having a lives system. Even as a kid, there were some games that didn’t have lives. Why did Wolfenstein 3D have lives but Doom didn’t? John Carmack, one of the developers for those games, explains that the reason why they put it in Wolfenstein 3D was because it seemed a feature they needed to include because every other game had them. But what they realized for Doom was that lives only matter for the arcades. Arcade games made money by eating kids’ quarters, so they had to reach the continue screen to make more money. What was the point of having lives if the game is already purchased and is being played at home?
So as more developers realized this, there were less and less games that started including lives. Even games today that have lives, such as Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze, provide the player with so many lives that it’s never really an issue. Aside from that, Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze will allow for the player to proceed to the next level if the player loses so many times. This is because games need accessibility.
All players need to be challenged. If there is no challenge, the game is boring. A game developer wants all players to finish the game. If the player quits, they aren’t going to see the entire game all the way through. And while there are players who want an extreme challenge, not all players want to go through crushing difficulty. This is why many games don’t have lives (or lives are trivial) and have even included options to proceed when the player seems to be stuck.
For many, the concept of having a limited number of lives may feel archaic or outdated. But for older gamers, the idea of having a limited number of lives brings back nostalgic memories of sitting in front of an arcade machine, trying to beat the high score while frantically feeding quarters into the slot.
The lives system was originally introduced in arcade games as a way for game developers to make more money. Players had to put in more coins to continue playing, which meant more revenue for the arcade. But as video game technology improved and games moved from arcades to home consoles, the need for the lives system disappeared.
In modern video games, the lives system is often seen as a frustrating obstacle that prevents players from fully enjoying the game. It can be especially frustrating in games with complex level designs or challenging boss battles, where a single mistake can mean losing all progress and starting over from the beginning.
This is why many game developers have chosen to eliminate the lives system in favor of more accessible and player-friendly game mechanics. Instead of punishing players for making mistakes, modern games often include features like unlimited lives or checkpoints that allow players to quickly resume playing from a specific point in the game.
In conclusion, while having lives in video games used to be a common feature, it has become less relevant over time. Developers have realized that accessibility and a fun experience are more important than punishing players with a limited number of lives. Games like Beware and Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze showcase that games can be challenging without the need for a lives system. With the industry constantly evolving, it will be interesting to see what other traditional video game features will be phased out in the future to make way for new and exciting gameplay mechanics.
Be sure to add Beware to your Steam wishlist to stay informed on the game’s release date and any future sales after release.