Wednesday, April 14, 2010

An Emotion Is Me!

So, I'm just going to get right on with it and warn you that this will be less a funny post, and more a bit serious on an actual topic. Gasp! Sure, there might be jokes every once in awhile and maybe the post will even change into something else, as I write it, but as I'm conceptualizing and writing it at the same time, I'm not setting out to be hilarious this time.

Oh, also, there will be spoilers for a few games here. So ye be warned. These include but aren't limited to Heavy Rain, Metal Solid 3 and 4 and maybe a few others, so you know now. I'll give fair warning before it happens in the post though.

Anyways, now that we've wrapped all that up nicely, onto the actual post. Emotions in games. Or rather emotions and how games can evoke them far better than other media. Hold on, I'm just going to go ahead and say it now, people who say games are for kids or that you will grow out of them can go ahead and pull their collective heads out at any time. Have you grown out of movies, music or books lately? No? Then quit telling I'll grow out of gaming, it's irritating. And yes, this has happened.

Right then. Emotion. Video games. It is this very much unpaid internet writer's opinion that video games are one of the most, if not the most, emotional media around. For very simple reasons too. Very simple and easy to understand reasons. Even for the common man. For one, the average movie will last you around ninety minutes. So you have ninety minutes to get through all your character development, get into the plot, and have it all resolved and neatly wrapped up. Even in movies with sequels, each movie generally has it's own self contained plot to get through. Whereas with video games you will spend upwards of ten hours with these characters, in RPGs it can get up to sixty hours.

So you spend up to sixty hours with the same group of characters, you will form bonds with them. You have been through all these experiences, the loss, the victory, the tragedy, the happiness. You have experienced it all with them, all the while having fun. It is very easy to develop an emotional bond to the characters on the screen in front of you, to where you care about what they are doing and their well being. If not because you want to finish the game, but because you have grown attached to them.

This is especially evident in a game like Heavy Rain. Be warned, there will be some spoilers here. This game will last somewhere in the range of ten hours, but in that ten hours you will experience the ups and downs of a murder case through the eyes of four different people, namely the latest possible victim's father. SPOILERS: Near the end of the game, after you've gone through all the trials the Origami Killer's last trial is to have Ethan drink a poison that will kill him and you have to make that decision. It is up to the player whether or not you drink this poison, but if you don't, you probably will not find his son, thus failing essentially. The game forces the player to make a choice between success and the death of this man whose life has been played out before you, or failure and seeing him live. (If you know what happens and comment, please use a spoiler tag or something).

A similar situation occurs in Metal Gear Solid 3 (SPOILERS), where you have been through this entire mission with Snake, you are at the end of this journey, seemingly successful. Then you are forced to kill his mentor, who has supposedly defected to Soviet Russia. Sure this could play out in a cut scene and just be done with it. The game decides instead that it will cut from the cut scene to game play and forces the player to pull the trigger. You are forced to pull the trigger on the closest thing Snake ever had to a mother figure, and it is an emotionally powerful scene. Then after that, you find out she had only defected because of her mission, she was doing it all for the good of the US. Also, that everyone betrays Snake. Everyone. Literally the whole world apparently. You just went through hell and back with him, he lost an eye, and it turns out everyone was out to stab him in the back. If that doesn't evoke some kind of emotional response from you after you've played that game, you must actually be a cadaver.

I had a lot more to this post. Honest, but I've lost a lot of steam in the process of writing it and sometimes this whole flow of thought writing doesn't work that well. Ah well, everything has it's own individual pitfalls. It seems coherent to deal with it.

I guess I'll leave you with a joke from 28 Days Later. A man walks into a bar with a giraffe. They get drunk. The giraffe falls over and the man goes to leave. The bar tender says, "Oi! You gonna leave that lyin' there?" The mans says "Lion? That's not a lion, it's a giraffe!"


1 comment:

Cirtur said...

Yeah. In Assassin's Creed II, I didn't like killing guards, because I thought about their wives and stuff too much.

But also I developed a jealous love for Rosa, expecting that any second some NPC would turn out to be married to her or something.

Haven't got to the end, but I am hoping that she doesn't die and Ezio gets to hit that.