I feel that something is missing in video games today. That thing is survival, or more specifically, the threat to one's survival. There are few things more viceral and stressful than the idea that your survival is threatened. It's basically the source of the "combat high". Now how can games tap into that same feeling. Well, one way is to have the developers threaten to shoot you in the head if you don't beat their game in under 24 hours but then you have to pay them all overtime. Another way is to punish character death more in video games. We as gamers need to have a closer relationship to the fear of death and the best way to do that is punish us for letting our character die. Example: In the amazing video game Half-Life (which I cannot recommend enough), every few minutes of level advancement is met with a checkpoint you can return to if you die. Convenient and good for the pacing, which is what the game is good at, but it kills the sense of survival especially if you die many times.
The flawed but fun game Dead Rising had the perfect counter to that system: If you die, you must return to a previously used save in the game or start over from the beginning. To make things worse, you can only save at certain locations in the level so no matter what, some time will be lost. Now, you have a sense of desperation and planning when it comes to your survival. When you see that life bar dwindle, your adrenaline kicks in and everything you do is focused on your survival in order to avoid an inconvenient set back to your progress. Any survivors or objectives you were pursuing must be put on hold to make sure you make it out alive, forcing hard choices and punishing a lack of strategy. Now, this type of gameplay would not work in certain games but the idea of harsher punishment is sound. By making us fear our demise, we work harder to learn the game and plan our moves instead of pushing buttons wildly and shooting everything that moves until the conclusion. All I'm saying is, I would like to see more of this in video games. Now, I must nurse my wicked hangover.