I’d probably call myself a musician above all else. Sure, I have a day job. I have other interests and hobbies as well, but music is my favorite thing I do. But I also really like video games. A pretty normal function of video games is dying and starting again. Well, I wrote a song about dying, so a music video that featured a series of video-gamed deaths seemed appropriate. 

Here it is:

Now I want to go behind the scenes to talk about each game that I chose.

I thought I died in a bad dream

[I had initially thought that getting killed while in bed was a pretty universal experience in Minecraft. It used to happen to me all the time. But in this case, it didn’t work naturally — it seems like at some point, the game was updated so that monsters don’t attack the player while in bed anymore — so I had to stage it.]

When somebody fucking stabbed me

Everything went black and I lost all feeling

I was thirteen

[I had Limbo in mind for this set of lyrics, especially for “everything went black.” Having the spider stab seemed like the perfect fit.]

I thought I died drinking Listerine

I thought I died on codeine

[I used Bioshock here. I thought injecting plasmids fit the imagery of the lyrics. This is one that’s a cutscene not of a death, but just a character passing out. It seemed kind of apt to throw some of those in.]

I thought I died drinking gasoline 

I thought I died on ibuprofen

[My friends Zach and Charlie helped me with this Left 4 Dead 2 footage. We had to kill the NPC teammate so they wouldn’t save me, then film the scene. I can’t think of a game off the top of my head where you can drink gasoline, but in Left 4 Dead, you can shoot gasoline. Plus, there are “pills” you can take. Perfect.]

I thought I died in a car crash

[Grand Theft Auto V is always a good source for car crash footage.]

I thought I died just driving too fast 

Or talking too fast

Or thinking too fast

Or drinking too fast

[Need for Madness is unironically one of my favorite racing games. My friend Zach and I just loaded up the first level and got some great “wasted” footage. You can find my detailed thoughts on Need for Madness (as well as some other flash games) here.]

Or even just playing Outlast

[I had to use Outlast footage here, of course. This is from a major cutscene where you’re thrown out of a window on the second floor. Like the BioShock footage, this isn’t actually a death.]

I thought I died in a hospital bed 

When they were trying to fix my head

Except the thing is they told me that I’d be dead

[I picked out some Surgeon Simulator brain surgery footage here. I don’t have much to say about it other than that it fits well. Plus, Surgeon Simulator was a “Let’s Play” staple during its peak.]

I never felt a greater sense of dread

[Charlie asked if I wanted Player Unknown’s Battleground footage. I said “Sure.” Some of the video picks weren’t as thoroughly thought-out as others, but I guess not every line in the song fits a gameplay shot perfectly. This shot is sort of funny because Charlie tried to die right away, but the person who killed him clearly struggled.]

I screamed and I hollered and I tried to bolt

[Does anyone remember QWOP, the old Flash game with comically bad controls? I thought it’d be fun to throw it in.]

But they had police who could put me on sleeper hold

[It was Zach’s idea to use XCOM footage, and it was sort of serendipitous that this fit the lyrics so well. I hadn’t thought about it until we were editing the video.]

So I put down my hands and I decided to fold

[This shot is from the game Tabletop Simulator. There’s a “flip table” feature that’s kind of funny, but also quite appropriate for the lyrics. It was also kind of fun to feature fail states that aren’t so much about dying as just losing.]

And I thought I died listening to Cloud Cult

[Both for the lyrics and the change in drum beat, I used Rock Band 3 footage. This is another shot that’s a fail state rather than an actual death.]

I thought I died in a heart attack 

After eating too many steaks at Outback 

And then running track

[Both Zach and I thought Fall Guys was topical and a fun game to add to this video project. Zach went the extra mile to make sure he got flung right as he was getting eliminated.]

I thought I died of a panic attack 

My heart was beating fast and everything was so off whack

I was so upset that my life was so off track

[I knew I wanted Don’t Starve footage, and specifically something involving the game’s sanity drain feature. Zach wasn’t quite sure what I was looking for, so I got it later.]

Don't Starve

And then everything went black

[I was torn between Hades and Dark Souls for this. We ultimately went with Hades because it was more personally relevant at the time. If you know the game enough and pay attention to the video, you can see pretty clearly that we were trying to die quickly. It’s early in the game and you can see footage of Zach just spamming a button that just hurts you. Zach was like “I don’t think I can die from spamming this… Oh.”]

But I never saw the other side

No end of the tunnel 

No white light

[Zach thought that some Spelunky 2 footage would be good for the video, and it fit here quite well. This one wasn’t as staged as many of the other shots. I asked for an “authentic death” and this is what Zach got.]

No falling below

[Halo: Reach is one of my favorite games, so I had to include it. Of course with a “falling below” lyric, I had to include some of Halo’s classic ragdoll footage.]

No flight to new heights

[The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is also a beloved game of mine. And what better image for the lyric than everyone’s favorite glitch in which trolls will launch you miles in the air?]

No insight

[No death footage here — just a title screen.]

So there’s a shot-for-shot breakdown of my own music video. Nobody asked for this, but I hope you found it entertaining at least.

If you like the song, you can subscribe to me on YouTube or follow me on Spotify. There’s plenty more to come. In fact, I hope to have a new video involving a piano ballad and a lot of cardboard within a month or so.

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