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  1. #1

    Emotional connections in video games

    I just connected emotionally to a character in a game and thought I should share my experience. And also ask - what are some of your most poignant and memorable emotional connections in video games?

    My experience happened in Assassin's Creed 3. I had been slaughtering hordes of Templars and bears and whatnots, mowing them down by the dozen. After a while it wears down your soul, you know?

    So I ran into Boston and happened upon an African-American gentleman and his wife being mercilessly beaten by a group of thugs. Not cool, you possibly-racist thugs! I murdered those thugs and saved the couple in the nick of time.

    So then I convinced them to come live in my little town that I was starting up. C'mon guys, it'll be great! And they eagerly came to my town. All the while complaining about their inability to have a child. It was sad, but they complained an awful lot.

    So then I ran across the gentleman a few months later and his wife was missing. I begrudgingly traced her down in the woods and she was about to get mauled by a bear! I was like "BEAR WE WILL HAVE NONE OF THAT IN MY TOWN" so I knifed it in the face and neck and saved her life, again just in the nick of time. And then I had to carry her back to her house - wait why couldn't her husband do that???

    So then another few months later I learned that lo and behold, after years of trying she has become pregnant! But due to her preggerous condition she was now unable to herd pigs into their pen, and her hubbie is gone, so can I please attend to these pig duties? I agreed and began to chase these stupid pigs all over the barnyard.

    About 10 minutes into the futile pig-chase I asked myself, "Self, what are you doing with your life? Proto-America's finest assassin, herding pigs for a pregnant woman?"

    At that very moment, Connor exclaimed "THE THINGS I DO FOR THIS TOWN!" I was like, "I know that feel bro!" And it was then that I connected with Assassin's Creed 3 in a very real and emotional way.
    Last edited by Zaboomafoozarg; 03-12-2012 at 05:05 AM.

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    Far Cry 3's is really good at making you think, both as your own personality and that of the protagonist, I really enjoyed it. Multiple endings too!

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    Yeah. both own personality and the leading character. Often times, I really got emotionally connected while in the gameplay.

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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus sonson's Avatar
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    Tends to depend on my context really, rather than what the games doing in the abstract, it's more about the prism I see it through.

    I've mentioned before on here how my wife has very severe depression and is frequently suicidal, I soldier on agaisnt all of the shit that causes becuase I love her, ultimatley, but it's all becuase I refuse to let it win in spite of the evidence that I'm fighting against impossible odds. This fucking thing has attacked my wife's head for whatever reason and there's no way I'm not going to give my every piece of me to beat it, even if it kills me.

    I've had abit of bumpy week in regards to the above and I found in playing Max Payne 3 at the wekend that Max's determination and fury to take injustice down, to smile darkly and defiantly at impossible odds resonated strongly. Just a seething desire to take each fucker down becuase what they're doing isn't right. That's not even my outlook on life, I have a very strong sense of hope and faith in fact, but there are moments when it's healthy to rage, and I understood brielfy how someone like Max could want to do that.

    By the same token though I also fell back into my own step before I completed the game, and the nihilsitic fuck everything fury of it felt hollow and empty and distrubed me actually. I'm not sure if that's to the game's credit that it provoked that reaction or just me switching from a dark place to a brighter one, but either way, it was powerful. Feelings like that remind me I'm alive.

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    I got a bit connected to Ezio after playing through Brotherhood for the first time. Also, the story of Black Ops really drew me in. It was one of the most enjoyable CoD SP experiences I've had after MW.

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    Lesser Hivemind Node SirDavies's Avatar
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    I actually cried a little when playing To the moon. The gameplay is way too simplistic, but the story was really well told and it really got to me, something no other game has ever done. I explained more about my thoughts on the game here.

    Another game where I felt emotionally connected to the characters, although in a completely different way, was Thomas was alone. Who could have guessed rectangles could be that expressive.
    Last edited by SirDavies; 03-12-2012 at 04:34 PM.

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    Lesser Hivemind Node Drinking with Skeletons's Avatar
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    Bioware is pretty good at getting that kind of reaction out of me thanks to their emphasis on party members. My first (Darkside) playthrough of KoTOR turned heartbreaking when I had to kill Joli Bendo, and the end of Dragon Age II was agonizing as characters I had grown attached to did terrible things (Anders) or couldn't bend enough to stay with me (Fenris, Sebastien).

    Not a PC title, but the end to Red Dead Redemption made me cry. I've heard a lot of people say that the ending to RDR is bad, but I thought it was the only real way it could end, based on what I could glean of John's past. Still very affecting, though.

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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drinking with Skeletons View Post
    Bioware is pretty good at getting that kind of reaction out of me thanks to their emphasis on party members.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drinking with Skeletons View Post
    Not a PC title, but the end to Red Dead Redemption made me cry. I've heard a lot of people say that the ending to RDR is bad, but I thought it was the only real way it could end, based on what I could glean of John's past. Still very affecting, though.
    They said it was bad?! Point me to 'em! But I agree with you, it was a great ending, especially if you did the 'I know you' side missions. Also I hope, saying Bendo was intentional :p

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    Quote Originally Posted by Drinking with Skeletons View Post
    Not a PC title, but the end to Red Dead Redemption made me cry. I've heard a lot of people say that the ending to RDR is bad, but I thought it was the only real way it could end, based on what I could glean of John's past. Still very affecting, though.
    I think RDR has one of the best "endings" I've ever experienced. Spoliers:

    You spend probably the first 3/4s of the game working to win back your wife and son, who are being held by government officials. Eventually, you finish everything the government has demanded of you, and your family is returned safely. You spend the last 1/4 or so of the game working on your farmstead, buying cattle, breaking in horses, etc. You also spend a lot of time bonding with your son. You teach him to shoot, hunt, skin animals, work around the farm, etc. Your character stresses to his son over and over again that he wants a better life for him than he had. He wants his son to lead an honest life, void of all the violence and crimes you have committed. You make your son promise you he will be good, and do the right thing.

    Everything is going great on the farm. Then one day, the men from the government show up with a death squad and shoot you dead on your own land. The game is essentially "over", at this point. The game puts you in control of your son, Jack, as he is visiting your grave sometime down the road. The game is fully free-roam at this point. You keep all your guns, outfits, and challenge progress. You are just playing as your son instead of your main character. This is where it gets brilliant, to me. There is no mission pop-up to go and get revenge. You know where to find the government officials in town, however. As a player, I was angry that I had been killed, and wanted to hunt down and kill the man responsible. I knew, however, that my father (played by me) would have wanted me to let it go. Eventually, my anger won out, and I tracked down the bastard responsible. You have to travel to quite a few locations to finally find him. The game gives you ample time to change your mind and go back. After I confronted him, I stood there for about 3 minutes with my gun in hand, trying to decide if I should kill him or not.


    I've never had a game make me think about something quite like that.
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    The Geth story arc in the Mass Effect series was one of the highlights for me, and its conclusion perhaps the greatest victory of the third game. They were never quite honest or open with the player, and there was always something about them that was left unstated. Yet through their actions, some throwaway lines, and the insight given into their shared memories it seems they somehow managed to have real emotions: pain, regret, and a yearning for freedom and perhaps even a renewed relation with the race that created - and attempted to exterminate - them. Their development throughout the series, which amongst other things really focussed on ideas about self-actualisation and self-determination, gave me what you might call an 'emotional connection' to their fate, and I was very glad to hear the sentence spoken in the screen-shot above: "Because of you, we are a people. And we are free."
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    Mass Effect and Walking Dead made me consider who I was and what I am.

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    Blood Omen's plot and characters made me stop and think about time travel, immortality and morality.

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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus SirKicksalot's Avatar
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    BioShock 2's story resonated with me... The good ending was devastating. It's a very touching game despite some early missteps (I hated how it forced you to stop and listen to Eleanor). One thing I appreciated was the new Little Sisters design - changed from repulsive frogs to a pretty little creature. I felt compelled to save them and harvesting was horrible, whereas in BioShock 1 I just saw them as the "gatherers" they were originally intended to be. They had no emotional impact.
    I felt a stronger connection to Eleanor than to TWD's Clementine.
    I also believe the rest of the characters were far more interesting than those of the first game. They're not downright villains, and they're not good people either. Their characterisation is nuanced and the judgments you inflict upon them have real weight - not because Eleanor is influenced by them, but because they're genuinely interesting. These people feel real compared to BioShock's caricatures. Their behaviour and fate intrigued and often saddened me.

    Far Cry 2's buddy system is fantastic. Having to execute one because I couldn't save her is one of the most memorable gaming moments for me.
    For 60 hours these buddies were the one beacon of humanity in Far Cry 2's mad Africa, and then they turned on me. Holy fucking shit.

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    In Mass Effect 2 and 3 Samara made me think about stuff. Important stuff, like how I relate to my mom. That gal sacrificed so much for her daughters it made me cry; and reminded me how much my mom sacrificed for me growing up. A video game taught me some good old fashioned empathy.

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    "I am the very model of-"

    Oh god Mordin. I wept like a child.
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    I suppose I could go on and on about Mass Effect and how the various characters reminded me of various family members of mine. Thane reminded how painful it must have been for my dad to be away so much during my childhood. Ashley reminded me of my Marine brother, and how he constantly had to fight to prove himself in the Corps. Mordin reminded me of one of my eccentric professors, who was something of a mentor to me. These games have great characters that are so sympathetic and interesting (except Jacob).

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    Lesser Hivemind Node Drinking with Skeletons's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woundedbum View Post
    They said it was bad?! Point me to 'em! But I agree with you, it was a great ending, especially if you did the 'I know you' side missions. Also I hope, saying Bendo was intentional :p
    SPOILERS

    The major complaint seems to be that players wanted the game to continue, and they didn't want it to continue with Jack. Basically they felt that John had earned a happy ending. But as you said, the game provides a lot of evidence that John isn't a reliable narrator of his own life. I think the first big clue is right at the beginning of the game, when the first guy you have to kill (the hell was his name...?) says that John "always did talk fancy," or something along those lines. John considers himself, perhaps subconsciously, to be better than other people, or at least better than the violent criminal he so clearly was. I think the best summary of his perspective comes from the snakeoil salesman: "Nobody's so critical of alcohol as a former drunk."

    While I think it's debatable whether the lawless justice that was meted out to all of John's gang was warranted, I don't think the case is as strong that John in any way deserved an exemption.

    END SPOILERS

    I'm not sure what you mean about saying "Bendo." It's been years since I've played KoTOR, so maybe the spelling (or even the exact name) is off. Hopefully I didn't use some sort of offensive slang word.

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    Lesser Hivemind Node Drinking with Skeletons's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dspimoni View Post
    I suppose I could go on and on about Mass Effect and how the various characters reminded me of various family members of mine. Thane reminded how painful it must have been for my dad to be away so much during my childhood. Ashley reminded me of my Marine brother, and how he constantly had to fight to prove himself in the Corps. Mordin reminded me of one of my eccentric professors, who was something of a mentor to me. These games have great characters that are so sympathetic and interesting (except Jacob).
    Jacob always made me sympathize with people who are sexually harassed at work. Seriously, Femshep is all over him.

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    I think continuing as Red Dead did was integral to the plot and would have severely lessened the overall story if what happened didn't happen, although I understand everyone's love for John over Jack..

    Also, it's Bindo, not Bendo - nothing major haha, just made me chuckle.

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