When you have a command and mastery of a video game, it is possible to play from the beginning to the end of the game without your character “dying”. Of course, there is a learning curve involved with playing video games and, while you are trying to get to grips with a game there is every chance that you will “die” with frustrating regularity.
This is why many of the traditional video games give a character three lives to start with, and offer more as the game goes on (if you play particularly well, it may be a lot more). They are a lot like an incentive system for video games.
The “power up” is something which does not feature in some of the more modern day games, in which a character doesn’t so much “die” as have their efforts brought to a halt at a certain point and have to restart from the last obstacle they cleared.
This allows players with perseverance but no great amount of skill to advance further in the game than ordinarily they might. However, in the older games, “power ups” include: an extra life; greater speed or strength; invincibility; invisibility (to the other characters in the game); and more of the game’s “currency” – in some games you pick up coins and in others it may be something else.
While completing a video game is quite enough of a target in itself, the inclusion of these power-ups helps to buttress a player’s resolve to get as far into the game as possible – a series of mini-tests before the big one at the end.