Koster and Crying

Something I often hear is of a loose goal of games as a medium: to make the player cry. I’m confident that this has already occurred in many story-heavy, cinematic games. But does this count?

In cinema, directors call upon lighting, music, story and actors to construct a massive wall of sensation. If they want you to cry, or laugh, they can generally do it. This power is also given to game developers when cutscenes and scripted in-game events take place. However, as expressed in an earlier post, this is a form of “cheating”.

In my opinion, for a game to fairly consider itself to achieve any kind of emotion as a game, it ought to do so through the mechanics and natural dynamics of gameplay. If it achieves this through a cutscene, then I believe that it’s more the medium of cinema that is achieving the emotion.

Can the game itself invoke strong emotions in the player? I believe so. Raiding in World of Warcraft manages to create high levels of stress for players, followed by a great spectrum of emotions based on the outcomes of battles: from immense disappointment at coming close but dying at the last second, to slight disappointment at losing a fight which you never expected to win, to minor success at killing something for the twentieth time and receiving loot as a reward, to incredible accomplishment and glory at defeating a powerful enemy for the first time, with a large group of friends who have stood together, training exhaustedly for days or weeks to reach that point. I would be shocked if those extremes had never drawn tears from anybody.

When I killed Ragnaros for the first time, it was emotional, but not because a great evil had been purged from the world of Azeroth; it was because it was a reward for the hard work put in by my friends over the weeks, to get that far. Likewise, when a football team wins a game, they manage to feel emotional without having a demon appear at the end to slay their captain.

While I have no objection to the use of cinematic techniques in video games (they contribute greatly to the player’s experience, and the overall experience is the entire point of all this), I do take issue with games claiming to take a victory for the medium, with an achievement earned outside of gameplay. I want to hear of games making people cry because of anxiety or drama or unfairness or victory, from the dynamics of the game itself.

Advertisements

One thought on “Koster and Crying

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: