If you’re playing an arcade game and you lose all your lives you’ll have to pay more money to have another go. That’s a genuine game over.
Back in the early days of console gaming, there were no saves and the collection of extra lives were important as running out meant having to start the game again from scratch. As such, learning where the extra lives were hidden was an important skill. The term ‘game over’ stayed, but was really more of a ‘game restart’.
Fast forward to gaming today and you can pretty much save the game whenever you want, not to mention the auto-saves after and before every significant event (or new room).
Don’t get me wrong, I like that we have checkpoints and auto-saves, but this means that we don’t need a lives system.
The only reason to keep a lives system in your game is if losing all of your lives results in having to start over from the very beginning, or perhaps lose a couple of hours of game time. Otherwise all it adds is an unnecessary delay in you getting back into the game, at near enough exactly the same point you left it. There’s no jeopardy any more, and the sooner designers stop trying to imply that there is the better.
This is evidently a hangover of arcade and early console games but one which designers seem averse to cutting out of modern titles. Keep health systems by all means but don’t show me a game over screen when I lose all my lives. It isn’t game over. It isn’t even game restart. It is game continue from where you left off.