Games Will NEVER Make You Cry

The movement toward better, deeper stories in video games has raised a multitude of new questions and issues within the gaming industry. Many surround how good stories can be, how vested the players can become in the story and if those stories and experiences could touch gamers on an emotional level.

I am here to tell you that simply will never be the case. OK, never is a long time and would be foolish to say but it makes a good headline. It will almost never be the case and, in the cases in which it is, it will be games such as Lost Odyssey, with it’s 30+ hours of cut scenes, which will bring about that emotion. The only problem it will be during the nongaming parts.

Steven Spielberg’s venture with EA is being touted as being a whole new experience which will raise the bar for emotional investiture in games. My question is why do I need to feel emotional about a game?

The key thing that a lot of people fail to realize is that, at their base, games are just that. Games. They are activities which can bring about emotion, such as anger when losing or happiness when winning, but generally don’t get you to feel introspective or emotional. The last time I played Monopoly I never felt on the verge of tears thinking of the plight of Old Uncle Pennybags and I certainly don’t think I will cry if and when (and this is the closest I would ever come) Master Chief were killed off in Halo 12.

Many of the “emotions in games” arguments spin off from the “games as art” arguments. The development and orchestration of a game are artistic but the end result is an experience that is controlled by the user who, more often than not, is trying to get to the next checkpoint rather than think about how hard it was to kill that last nameless enemy.

Gaming experiences are an active one which is different from movies, a passive experience, and the two should not be compared at every turn. Storylines in games have gotten better and deeper over the years but at the end of the day we (gamers) pull the trigger, press jump, shoot the ball, save the day, etc. and therefore the activity of games don’t allow us to sit back, be contemplative and emote as some would hope we would.

Do you believe a game will make you cry at some point or do you simply want to frag the next bad guy who peaks his head out?

  • Jeremiah Night

    To be honest I could not see you being more wrong about this.
    Yes games are at their heart just that, but no less that does not negate the fact that games are moving away from being games to being experiences. Like a novel or a movie, yeah in most cases you have to go +40 hours for things to matter at any level. Though I think if you look at titles like Bio Shock, and The Darkness, or even COD4 you can see that with advances in technology, and a better understanding of how we can tell those stories in this medium, the experiences presented become more and more visceral. Now to be exact, a game(experience) will only make you cry when that experience finds a way to reach you. Sure something’s are a bit more universal, but certain stories effect certain people in ways other stories don’t.
    I guess this is why I don’t favor the Wii even with its interactivity I don’t see it being the step up toward what we are talking about. Things like Artificial Intelligence, and Photo Realistic Graphics, with no limits will be I think the nail in the coffin of just “games” that’s not to say “gaming” will ever be gone, because I’ll always want to pick up Lumines, or Ratchet and Clank. Neither will ever make me cry, but they both make me smile.
    Look I think this a very deep argument, but from my end it remains simple, that is an eventuality, not a possibility, games will in time effect people in profound ways. Its just a matter of time, and I don’t see it being to far off.

  • mik

    If you’re telling me a game has never struck an emotional chord with you, then you’re a robot. Will a game ever be able to make you cry? Doesn’t seem too unlikely to me–I think we’re well on the way. Makes me wish Jaffe hadn’t given up on Heartland.

    And did I just see you compare video games to Monopoly?