I received one of those "Back in My Day" spam emails the other day, but unlike the rest, this one was written for guys my age, 39, who grew up in the 70's and 80's. I guess I' m officially old now, since I have one of those spams for my age group.
Anyhow, one of the sections read something like:
"And in our video games your "guy" was a little square on the screen, and you never won the game. Ever. The game just got faster and faster and harder and harder until you died. Just like in real life. Then you had to start all over again at the beginning."
Remembering all the paper route quarters lost into Asteroids, Pac-Man, and Centipede machines, I am forced to agree with the truth of that statement.
Picking up D&D in the early 80's after such experiences, when a character died, we chalked it up as part of the game. That's just how it worked. Re-roll a new guy. First level.
With MMORPG's today, you die, lose some xp, but you don't really ever die, as in everything you've done up to that point is lost forever. I can't help but think that affects the expectations of D&D players these days. Maybe that was partly behind shift in game styles in 3.x to put more power in the players hands.