Editorial: Emotional Games

Apologies for the lateness and shortness of this post.  I have been a bit busy with schoolwork and playing Heavy Rain (It’s amazing!  Expect a review next Wednesday).  Now, playing Heavy Rain has stirred the most emotion in me I have ever felt while playing a game.  The ability to choose what the player wants to do in the game, down to the smallest detail such as doing work or playing with a toy car, adds infinite amounts of depth to the game.   This causes the player cares for the characters he or she is playing as even more than in a normal game.  The only other recent game that effected me this way recently has been Mass Effect 2, and even that did not come close to how much I feel for the characters in Heavy Rain (even after hearing the Salarian sing Gilbert and Sullivan).

My question to you, my dearest of all doves, is what games have effected you emotionally?  And alternatively, have there ever been any games that did emotion so horribly that you did not care for the characters at all?


  1. Lost Odyssey was one of the most emotionally gripping games I have ever played.

    On the other hand, I’ve never cared at all about the characters in a Dragon Warrior game.

  2. To be fair, I don’t think you’ve cared for the Dragon Warrior series in general.

  3. @Bup: True enough. But you didn’t specify.

    I can’t actually think of RPGs I *did* care for where I didn’t care much about the characters. Isn’t that part of the enjoyment factor, after all?

  4. Oddly enough, I really got into the Metal Gear Solid (the whole series) story lines. While it definitely had its cheese moments, I always love good delusional schizophrenic government conspiracy theories.

  5. @Lusi – not necessarily. I liked Eternal Sonata but hated damn near every character. whoever wrote for that game was so far up his ass with philosophy that he forgot to make characters act naturally. instead all the characters would go on these strange soliloquies that really had nothing to do with what they were doing.

    @Bup – oddly enough, the game where I felt the most for the characters was Final Fantasy Tactics because I gave all the generic characters (I was about seven at the time so it wasn’t pathetic yet). I think you’ve got something there with control over characters making players feel more attached.

  6. … all the generic characters personalities.

    damn, that was a bad one…

  7. @Breaka: I agree about the “giving characters personalities” bit. I think a lot of what effects us in games is entirely our own doing. Take the Weighted Companion Cube, for example. It never does anything, it’s a freaking box, but I STILL felt bad for it. It’s entire personality was essentially given by GLaDOS’s explanations of what it couldn’t do. Personally, I find myself doing this with games all the time, where I’ll superimpose little personalities on my minigunners in a C&C game (which makes it REALLY hard to send them to certain death). Sometimes I think a well written game could get characters to care about a toaster by giving it a name and drawing a little face on it.

    The WCC is, I’m sure, a far cry from the characters in Heavy Rain, but I imagine having realistic-ish people with dialog and such just makes it all the easier for us to fill in the gaps in their personality with our own ideas, which would make us that much more attached to then.

  8. @Darth: You’re silly. I didn’t care about the companion cube at all, though I thought it particular hilarious that we were effectively being TOLD to care (implicitly) by a computer incapable of that emotion itself.

  9. @Lusipurr: Oh, I agree, it’s totally silly, it’s just a box with a heart on it. Doesn’t change the fact that I felt bad (I’m very easy to guilt-trip).

  10. @Darth: Oh! I am so sad! Enjoy this.


  11. @Lusi: I found that waaaaaaaay funnier than I should have :D.

  12. Heheh, that cat is so cool! =D
    Have a look at this one, ’tis a smiling dog :o


    As for emotional games, I really liked Odin Sphere and the relations between the different characters. By the end they had built up quite a rich story with the overlapping timelines. The true ending really got me emotional, so beautiful.. *sniff* T_T

  13. I have never had an emotional reaction to a game. I find games like Heavy Rain to be interesting in concept and innovative, but ultimately unfulfilling because I’m not really an “emotional person.” I mean it is really difficult for me to feel emotions at all. Not that I am like an Asperger Syndrome patient; I recognize when emotions are proper and can understand and recognize them in others. I just find it difficult to really get my emotions up for all but the most personal and direct things, and no game has ever done that.

  14. Yes; I didn’t finish it, but I just… nothing there, man.

    Don’t get me wrong, nothing against the game or its story. I recognized where it was supposed to be emotional, but I just couldn’t make myself feel anything.

    Long story short, I spent a lot of time when I was young actively trying to suppress emotional responses, because I thought that’s what I had to do to make myself “tough” to keep up with all the macho idiots in my class. I thought when I got emotional I was weak. Now I find it almost second nature to put myself in a sort of emotionless state that I just exist there most of the time.

  15. @Lane: Hmm. Strange! I have always been similarly unemotional dealing with people–though with books, movies, poetry, and games, I have never had a problem developing an emotional response.

    Of course, the first part of that has changed now. Perhaps that is why I don’t play many games anymore? I am not certain. I have been thinking on it lately. Perhaps I will talk about it tomorrow on the podcast.

  16. I’ve had a harder and harder time relating emotionally to games recently, but Lost Odyssey did affect me more than I expected. Particularly a few of the dreams, although they are just mostly text.

  17. Me too, but I just assume it’s been through the game’s deficiencies rather than my own. For instance if a game’s to cliché or poorly or clumsily written then I can’t really invest myself emotionally. On the other hand I find myself really warming to the emotionional ties of the father in Heavy Rain …