It’s all fun and games until somebody dies: Permadeath appreciation as a function of grief and mortality salience

McKay Steven West, Elizabeth L. Cohen, Jaime Banks, Alan K. Goodboy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Challenge is a key gratification sought in video games, and punishment by character death is often the repercussion for poor performance, requiring players to recover or restart. But some gamers go a step further and opt into games that feature permadeath: the permanent death of a game character with no opportunity to recover that character. These experiences may be emotionally taxing for play-ers, but under some circumstances, they can enhance the meaningfulness of the play experience. Participants (N = 394) recruited from online gaming forums were randomly assigned to report on a past permadeath or temporary death gaming experience in order to help understand how the two forms of death experiences may differently impact affective responses, mortality salience and appreciation responses. Permadeath recollections were associated with increased appreciation, mediated by reported grief over the deaths. This indirect effect was stronger for those with stronger parasocial attachments to their characters and those with decreased tendencies to engage in trait meaning making. These findings hint that players less inclined to find meaning in everyday stressors could be more likely to derive meaning from their tragedies in game worlds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-206
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 1 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • death
  • gaming
  • gaming attachment
  • parasocial
  • permadeath
  • rougelike
  • video games

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design

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