BRB..gotta break up a kid argument/fight. OY
Alright, I'm back. Siblings..I grew up an only child so I don't get the sibling rivalry thing but anyways, this isn't about my kids its about games.
Now, I'm not on either side of the "games are art" debate, I leave that to those wiser than me. However I am in the camp that games can emotionally affect you just as much as books or a movie. No, I don't mean that if you play a violent video game you're gonna go all Lizzie Borden on people. I mean they can resonate with you, make you feel, make you laugh, make you cry, make you relate to the characters and their plight, even make you feel guilty for some of your in-game actions (probably why as hard as I try I CAN'T be evil in Fable 2)
Obvious example is Lost Odyssey and its "Thousand Years of Dreams", but that wasn't the only thing that struck a chord with me, I found myself tearing up at other parts of the game, including happy moments.
Now, I'm a pretty cold hearted individual, While I am incredibly protective and passionate about my family circle (not the silly magazine, though they have good recipes), I tend to not care about others much. (I know it makes me a horrible person but there you have it).Example: While I consider 9/11 a great tragedy and feel for those that lost loved ones, I wasn't sitting there crying while watching the news. I have however cried when characters have died in movies or books or games. Hell I didn't cry at my own wedding but I cried at one in a video game.
Here's a couple of games that caught me with their VERY contrasting landscapes: Oblivion and Fallout3.
Say what you will about Oblivion's fugly characters, repetative voice acting and scaling enemies, Tamriel is GORGEOUS. I remember the first time I stood on the Jerhall Mountains and looked out across the game world, the blue sky, The thick lush trees and the beautiful Imperial City right in the center of it all, shining white and proud. For a moment I was a Dark Elf Battle Mage and Looking out at the horizon showed me just what I was fighting to protect. It was a powerful moment for me.
In contrast you have the Capitol Wasteland of Fallout 3. As I stand on a high vantage point and look out, I see the land rolling out for miles and miles. Where Tamriel filled me with hope and purpose, the Wasteland fills me with despair and sadness. Yes, the world is portrayed in detail just as interesting and precise as the world of Oblivion; Yes, the world is portayed in a way I can imagine it would look after a nuclear war, so from a graphical and realistic standpoint its amazing.
Where Tamriel made me feel heroic and strong and noble, the Wasteland make me feel small and weak and frail. Of course that is the mood its meant to convey so it does a great job but I find that after a while I have to go play something bright and colorful and cheery to get me out of that darkness. I've actually felt like, if I was my character I'd be banging on Vault 101's door to be let back in. Not that its any cheerier there but its a slight improvement. I even feel bad for the Raiders I kill, after all, they're fighting for survival same as me.
There's one moment in gaming that I have never been able to forget, its kind of the moment I compare other game moments too. That moment was in God of War.
WARNING SPOILER AHEAD IF YOU'VE NEVER PLAYED GOD OF WAR
There's a scene in the game while you're in Pandora's Temple where you come across soldiers in cages suspended from the ceiling. as I walked towards them they began asking and begging me to release them. When I walked closer to them there was a lever on the wall that lowered one of these caged soldiers. Once I let him down I walked around the cage in confusion because I couldn't open it. After a while A realization came to me as I looked up the ramp to the door to the next room and the little ridges on the ground at intervals. I wasn't supposed to get him out, I was supposed to push the cage up. As I made my way up stopping along the way to fight enemies, this soldier continued to cry and beg and scream. I wasn't sure what was in store but I knew it couldn't be good. Then Kratos says to him "We all have to make sacrifices for our gods" in his deep chilling voice and I felt like I was the Soldier in the cage. When we made it up to the room there was a dead soldier on the ground, he had committed suicide and had left a note about how the God's asked too much from him and he couldn't do it. Me? I pushed that cage to the spot on the floor and pulled the lever and tried to ignore the screaming of that soldier as he was incinerated.
That was a powerful moment for me. It stayed with me. It also had another weird effect on me. Rather than being disgusted that Kratos could be so ruthless. I felt angry at the Gods. The God's that required this sacrifice, the God's who betray him, who make him do their dirty work by giving him false promises. Kratos became "real" to me in that moment.
There is another scene that, while it didn't impact me quite as powerfully did sadden me. That was in the PSP God of War game Chains of Olympus. I think that moment resonated with me because I'm a parent. If you've played it, you know what I'm talking about
GOW SPOILERS OVER
Bioshock. What got me about Bioshock wasn't just the "Would you Kindly" (which I thought was brilliant by the way) but the beginning, well I should say how the truth of it all, puts the beginning in a whole new different light. A very sad and dark light. There was also a part where you find 2 skeletons on a bed next to a scattered bottle of pills. When you listen to the tape nearby (and if you'd heard one other tape earlier) not only will you understand what happened to these people and why, it will fill you with such sadness.
Theresia. Probably not a very well known game its a point and click DS game. A very dark, somber, confusing, bloody, twisted point and click game. I have not finished it but I will say that the ambiance, the chaotic flashes of memory and the fate of one particular boy seen in your flashbacks made me feel sad and disgusted and dirty.
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. Yeah, I know, you're probably snickering right now. Seriously though, I loved the story. I loved Starkiller's journey from one end of the forces spectrum to the other. The ending made me cry. I think I ran the whole gamut of emotions throughout the game. There were scenes that were amusing; One of my favorites was Starkiller attempting to Meditate, Juno asks him if he knows what he's doing and he says "I don't know, I've never been a Jedi before" I chuckled. His cockiness at the beginning grated on me, then his blindness as to the true situation frustrated me, then as the story progressed I felt hope, and the ending was bittersweet and for me, unforgettable. (I hesitate to get the Sith edition of the game because I feel it might ruin my feelings for the character)
Titanic Mystery. Betcha never heard of that one! Its a recent release, one of those I Spy type point and click affairs. The premise is that to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Titanic a new Titanic has been built, recreating as close as possible the original ship. For its maiden voyage it will attempt the same trip the first Titanic was taking and the people invited to go on this Journey are descendants of the original passengers. The Twist is you have to go around thee whole ship clicking on lists of things and collecting the pages to an old journal in order to stop someone from making sure the ship truly mimics the original Titanic.
The game itself is pretty standard and a bit bland, though they throw in some tidbits of Titanic trivia which is interesting. Its the Journal you are searching for that keeps you playing, each page is a tease that leaves you impatient to find the next one. You will become very engaged with the characters in this journal and I actually ended up yelling at my DS the same way you yell at some dumb broad in a horror flick who is about to enter the freaky house or what not after hearing noises.
Of course so far all I've talked about are the sad, dark experiences. Of course I've had good, happy feelings playing games as well, its just that the dark seem to stick with me more. Its pretty easy to make someone laugh or amuse them, its a lot harder to get them to really feel for a character or situation in a game. To make you care what happens, to make you believe, at least for the time while your console is on that these people live and breath and struggle and laugh just like we do.
Perhaps another time I'll post about happy game moments.
oh and just to lighten the mood I will be posting another post later on concerning something I mentioned on Twitter. I don't know if you will be amused but I was, so here's hopin'.