Meaningful Death: A Qualitative Analysis Exploring Narrative Impact on Fail States

Courteney Smith and James M. Rush


This paper explores the potential role of narrative in video games on the player experience of fail states. Research has shown that players can experience frustrations from fail states that result in abandoning the game. This analysis aims to explore how fail states could potentially be improved by adding meaning to the fail state through narrative integration. A thematic analysis of game reviews was completed on two games, Hades and Outer Wilds, to find potential benefits from existing games that use narrative to support fail states. The findings suggest that narrative support for fail states could provide meaningful experiences of personal growth and discovery for players.