“Game over” or “death” screens can be the most iconic part of a game because, well, they’re a part we have to see a lot. Some even become memes in their own right. Dark Souls’ “you died” text has practically been burned into the retinas of frustrated players. If you yell “Snake? SNAAAKE?!” in a crowded room, gamers will know exactly which Metal Gear game you’re talking about.
But they’re also a weird part of video game UIs. You watch your little digital avatar collapsing in a heap or quit your paper route or get jump-scared to death, and you know they’re suffering the consequences of your bad game playing.
On the most basic level, a game-over screen says that you messed up. In a way, they’re meant to be frustrating. So how do you go about designing a piece of UI that players instinctively hate to see?
Developers have created a few strategies, from the perfunctory game-over screens in the Mario franchise to the elaborate and adorably animated sequences in Kirby games. Others take bigger, weirder, more memorable approaches to sticking it to you.
Watch the video above to learn more about game over screens and just how important they are.