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On Provoking Emotions Via Games

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the harder-than-it-looks dept.

Games 108

N'Gai Croal, poster at the Newsweek LevelUp blog, moonlights today in a column for Next Geneartion discussing the success games have had in provoking emotional responses. More specifically, he talks about the fact that mostly games are fairly bad at this. Citing a few notable exceptions (Final Fantasy VII, BioShock), he raises again the notion of 'games as art' as they relate to emotion: "Shadow Of The Colossus wasn't a blockbuster, but the frequency with which it's cited in 'are games art?' debates indicates both a medium still in its aesthetic infancy and a videogame that punched above its weight. BioShock won't sell like Gears Of War, but it already feels as though it's going to be one of this generation's most influential games. And if Mass Effect can deliver on its early promise of confronting players with thorny moral choices and the consequences of their actions, perhaps other creators will see that making the player feel bad can be a good thing after all. "

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108 comments

In soviet russia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21076811)

Emotions provoke games!

Re:In soviet russia (1)

enderjsv (1128541) | more than 6 years ago | (#21076873)

"games as games" has always been more important to me than "games as art". Maybe it's just me.

Re:In soviet russia (2, Interesting)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | more than 6 years ago | (#21077193)

I think that's part of the problem we have in communicating games as art. We look at a picture on the wall and easily think "that's art." But we look at a game and we either think "it's a good game, but its not art" or "its very artistic, but what kind of a game is it." Art and games are not mutually exclusive in my opinion. To me, at least, art is a personal experience the artist is trying to impose on the user/viewer. That's really a very big part of gaming; immersion. I'm not talking immersion in the sense of realism or perception of the environment, but personal involvement. Even "simple games" like Pac-Man, or Puzzles have an immersive quality that draws you into them and makes you think about what they present you with; its what makes art and games. What makes good art, or a good game is usually a quality of uniqueness or differentiation that sets it apart from the rest. The Arts don't belong in stuffy museums or to the stiff dialog intellectuals, they belong in the experiences of all people; games seem like the ideal vector to achieve this.

Here's an idea. (4, Insightful)

Moryath (553296) | more than 6 years ago | (#21077277)

Print out the Pac-Man screen 9 times, each time through a different color filter.

Arrange them on canvas.

Sell it to a museum for $millions as an "authentic warhol tribute."

Movie posters are considered "art." Movie boxes are considered "art." So are the movies inside.

How many video games have to come with posters and boxes before the thing inside is viewed as art as well?

Re:Here's an idea. (1)

Kamineko (851857) | more than 6 years ago | (#21077853)

Back when, games had boxes and came with kick-ass posters [lysator.liu.se] .

Re:Here's an idea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21079653)

You forgot a line there:

Print out the Pac-Man screen 9 times, each time through a different color filter.
Arrange them on canvas.
Sell it to a museum for $millions as an "authentic warhol tribute."
.......
Profit!!!

Re:In soviet russia (1)

enderjsv (1128541) | more than 6 years ago | (#21078369)

I don't disagree that some games are art, I'm just saying I don't really care. Whether Bioshock is art or not, it's a great game and that's all that concerns me. Now if only someone would only make that Mona Lisa dating sim I've been waitin for.

Simple answer for me... (1)

nickj6282 (896871) | more than 6 years ago | (#21076831)

It's just a game. I can allow myself to get immersed to the point where I get pulled along with the story, but at any point I can remind myself that "it's just a game" and drop that colossus or harvest that Little Sister with impunity.

Video games can provoke emotions, but I can just as easily remind myself that it's just a game and not feel the emotions.

Re:Simple answer for me... (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 6 years ago | (#21077279)

Video games can provoke emotions, but I can just as easily remind myself that it's just a game and not feel the emotions.

Why would you want to though? I mean, that's the whole point of art.

Re:Simple answer for me... (1)

nickj6282 (896871) | more than 6 years ago | (#21077625)

Well, unlike other forms of art, video games have a final goal. If I'm working on my second play-through of Bioshock, for example, I might decide to harvest all the Little Sisters rather than save them like I did the first time through, to see if I get a different ending (no I haven't finished BioShock yet!)

With Shadow of the Colossus, you have to kill the Colossi to advance in the game. There is no other way around it. The intense emotions that I derived from Shadow were the sense of depression and isolation that the huge, beautiful, and empty world I had explored had created. When I played that I got the sense of forlorn emptiness from exploring beautiful crumbling structures that were half submerged in water or overgrown with weeds. The land felt like it had a long history behind it, but was utterly wasting away now without anyone around.

In fact, I got a similar feeling from Portal.

Re:Simple answer for me... (1)

grumbel (592662) | more than 6 years ago | (#21078123)

### Well, unlike other forms of art, video games have a final goal.

By far most of them have, but they don't actually have to have one or at least not just one. One of the things I liked in DeusEx2 or Fahrenheit was that while they did have multiple endings, none of them was clearly 'the good one', all of them had their pros and cons. In games like KotoR on the other side you are very limited in your decisions, because you only have 'good' and 'evil' decisions, so if you try to play the nice guy, there is often just one answer that makes sense from your characters point of view, while the other feels totally out of character. Now DeusEx2 and Fahrenheit still had a huge problem, namely that the ending basically depended upon only a single decision that you make a few minutes before the credits role, so all your doing for the last 10h hasn't had any influence on the ending. KotoR did it different in that all your 'good' and 'evil' decisions accumulated and your final score was what decided. While this means that all your doing actually matters, its still rather annoying, since again, instead of playing the story, you level up a 'good/evil' meter.

One of the games that got things right was Façade, there was no good/evil meter and no proper ending, instead you simply had the story that flows and you do your stuff and it ends one way or the other, without any of the endings actually being good or bad or under your instant control. Now of course Façade 'cheated' by being a very short game, but it was still a very nice showcase on what video games could be. Another example in that direction is The Last Express, while in terms of ending it didn't do much special, the gameplay was quite extraordinary in that it didn't bother all that much with what the player did. Instead it had a game world that was alive and moving, no matter if the player did something or not and I think this is a very important aspect.

Evoking emotions is hard, but I think a step that should come before it should be creating a believable game world. Most games today still fail horribly on that aspect, not just a little bit, they don't even bother try. In many FPS games when you killed all the monsters in a room and stop moving forward *nothing* happens. The game world simply comes to a full stop, it only moves forward when the player moves, it doesn't move on its own and that is a very effective way to destroy suspension of disbelieve.

What made Shadow of the Colossus great, beside other things, was that it followed this. Of course the game world didn't move on its own there, but that was because there simply was nothing in the game world that could move. All the respawning random monsters that you know from the next Zelda game simply weren't there, it was a empty wasteland and it felt 'alive' exactly because of that.

As long as games feature worlds that are 20 feet wide and leave no freedom and monsters that all look the same and don't have a live of their own its hard to feel with the world, since it just isn't real enough, it fails on to many basic concepts.

Re:Simple answer for me... (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 6 years ago | (#21082621)

KotoR did it different in that all your 'good' and 'evil' decisions accumulated and your final score was what decided.

Actually, no. What decides which ending you get is whether or not you join Bastila on at the roof of Rakatan temple. If you do, you get the bad guy ending; if you don't you get the good guy ending.

While this means that all your doing actually matters, its still rather annoying, since again, instead of playing the story, you level up a 'good/evil' meter.

Any significant decision in a game does, by definition, either increase/decrease some internal variable or set a flag, since otherwise it could not influence any future events and therefore not be significant.

Besides, I for one like playing the hero, and forgetting the real world and its "no way up" -motif for a while.

Re:Simple answer for me... (1)

AmaDaden (794446) | more than 6 years ago | (#21077821)

I mean, that's the whole point of art.
Well people look for different things in art. For most people games are entertainment, a time killer. Like TV is today and books and plays were in years past. Just something interesting to do for now. People like me look for a story, something I can think and talk about. Because of this I love RPGs and I'm currently very into HL2. Other people who play Halo and madden look at games as sport. A way to compete with their friends. The same game can cause two different people to invoke totally different emotions. I doubt that the GP has no emotions when playing but instead that they just don't get attached to the characters. The GP does not feel remorse at killing a innocent character because he/she is more interested in feeling accomplishment at beating the game instead of feeling that the game is real.

Re:Simple answer for me... (1)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 6 years ago | (#21079393)

No, that's not necessarily the point of art at all, and it is also the aim of a lot of other things that aren't art (like speechmaking, advertising, and simple threats - which are meant to provoke the emotion of fear.)

One can make the argument that the point of art is produce sensations, and particularly interesting ones, which I feel is more accurate.

In any case, games do produce emotions: the emotion of pleasure at skillful play, frustration at failure, curiosity about the parameters of the game, plus whatever one feels about the thing that the game is simulating or modeling (including its story and artwork). But I think of them as producing, more broadly, all the sensations we associate with gaming, particularly with the management and concentration of attention.

Of course, usually when people mean "emotion," they mean the relatively maudlin and banal elements of melodrama like the death of Aeris in Final Fantasy. Sentimental manipulation isn't aesthetically interesting to me even in film: the drier, more contemplative and less apparently emotional (but aesthetically and intellectually captivating) work of someone like Godard strikes me as a lot more artistic than swelling violins and melodramatics of standard Hollywood fare.

What about the Mother series? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21078721)

The Mother (Earthbound) series is pretty good at it, especially Mother 3.

Heck, those crazy people just spent something like $650 to send hand made thank-you gifts (a book, fan art, CDs, figurines someone made, etc.) to the creator of the game in part to beg them to let them translate the game into English...

Re:Simple answer for me... (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 6 years ago | (#21078861)

Video games can provoke emotions, but I can just as easily remind myself that it's just a game and not feel the emotions.

Count yourself lucky. There's comes a time when you love a game too much, and have fought too hard to simply walk away. Devil May Cry; Nightmare 3 on Dante Must Die Mode. Alundra; The palace in the lake. Ecco 2; The chained globe in the dark future**.

The emotion? Despair. Complete and utter, all encompassing, fall to your knees and wail hopelessness. Hours of ordeal, days of defeat, try after try of torturous tribulation. Almost always at its worst when it follows the sense of peaceful joy and contentment the game has brought you up to that point.

Can you truly say that you can just put down your controller and walk away? That you can write off all that effort, time and memory as a trivial experience. Can you really go on with the rest of your life wondering; what if... I'd just tried a little harder?

If you can, then I don't know whether to envy you or pity you. Or myself for that matter.

**Lost forever in the tides of time! What the hell!?! I can tell you that ending really did stir some pretty powerful emotions, all of them directed at the development team.

Re:Simple answer for me... (1)

greedyturtle (968401) | more than 6 years ago | (#21084073)

The utter despair I felt when I sunk 47 hours into Xenogears to find I was unable to beat the last boss without pumping up my combo skills.

Shadow of the Colossus (3, Interesting)

flitty (981864) | more than 6 years ago | (#21076867)

When I first beat Shadow of the Colossus, I'm sure i'm not the only one who thought, "My god, what have I done?" I've never had another game make me questions my actions within the game before. It was wonderful.

Re:Shadow of the Colossus (1)

Endo13 (1000782) | more than 6 years ago | (#21076895)

When I first beat Shadow of the Colossus, I'm sure i'm not the only one who thought, "My god, what have I done?"
Cool! Who else wondered what you had done?

Re:Shadow of the Colossus (1)

Boronx (228853) | more than 6 years ago | (#21077995)

Close Combat

Re:Shadow of the Colossus (0, Offtopic)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 6 years ago | (#21078771)

For me, the first game that ever did that was The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening.

I remember when I realised, after reading one of the owl statues, exactly what it was I was trying to do and what that would mean for Koholint Island, and for the people there and the Animal Village and... and for Marin...

I should have thrown away the sword there and then and gone back to the village and settled down and raised a family. Had a small farm. Told tall tales to the grandchildren about my younger days as a famous swordsman in Hyrule. Hell, I should have gone away and played Harvest Moon instead. That would have been the decent thing to do.

But instead I persevered and I defeated the nightmares and woke the Wind Fish. And the rest was inevitable...

Re:Shadow of the Colossus (1)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 6 years ago | (#21079567)

I've beaten Shadow of the Colossus and that's a compelling thought... I guess the only thing that would make it even more interesting is if you had choices along the way, similar to Bioshock. Like if you had the choice to destroy the colossi or... who knows what else. But yeah, the ending sequence was crazy and I was actually a little close to tears. Great game, looking forward to whatever they do next.

Madden 200x (3, Funny)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 6 years ago | (#21076883)

That game pisses me off so bad when my friend scores more points than me.

You muust Euthanise it! (4, Interesting)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | more than 6 years ago | (#21076907)

"Although the incineration process is extremely painful, eight out of ten Aperture Science engineers believe your companion cube probably can't feel pain."

If there's been one game that evoked emotion in me this year, it was Portal. From dread and fear when discovering the ratman's nest, to shock when I saw the fire pit open up, and consistent joy in solving the puzzles or hearing GLaDOS speaking. Portal's minimalist beauty, awesome execution, and wonderful writing puts it at the top of my "games are art" arguments list.

Re:You muust Euthanise it! (3, Insightful)

Kelbear (870538) | more than 6 years ago | (#21077463)

I would have also pointed to portals.

There are many places where games cross over into other genres of art and can make something of themselves under that category. Via sound, art, cinematics, story, they can become art just like music, paintings, movies, books...but how about art as a game?

Portals defy reality and show us in real-time an impossible world with impossible gameplay. A big part of the wonder in Portal was that your brain now was now wrestling with a wholly unfamiliar phenomenon and this gameplay, most importantly, is interactive. It's a game.

So this distinction of the portals is where I would point to when using Portal as an example of games as art. Because without the idiosyncratic traits of games being art, then it's just looking at already recognized facets of art in the game and then pointing them out as art, which is only showing that games contain that kind of art, not that gaming itself can be a form of art.

Re:You muust Euthanise it! (1)

xtieburn (906792) | more than 6 years ago | (#21079931)

'Portals defy reality and show us in real-time an impossible world with impossible gameplay.'

An interesting game mechanic is not art. Blinx had impressive levels of time manipulation which is just as, if not more, mind bending than Portals. Teleporters are all over the place in games that much is also currently impossible. Heck portals are essentially just teleporters with a camera attached. (Well and a bit of cross teleporter physics.)

There are many things in games that are impossible in the real world it doesn't become art because of that, nor does it become art because it makes you think about how it all functions even as a part of the puzzles presented in the game. (Though it may become physics.) It would be like calling a hypercube art because you have to wrestle with one too many dimesions to even visualise it.

The only difference between portals and every other game system is the maths and physics involved. Neither of those are art, nor for that matter are any of the idiosyncratic traits of any game.

Re:You muust Euthanise it! (2, Insightful)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 6 years ago | (#21083275)

I've never thought about levels as art before... very interesting...

Perhaps by current definitions, yes. But maybe this is a new form of art: something that was not possible until modern day. For example, Rube Goldberg machines [wikipedia.org] are art because of their unnecessary complexity. So here, a machine has become art because it's nature has been twisted in an unusual way. Also, the result of mathematic manipulations like the spirograph [google.com] are now considered art. Such is also the case with purely virtual manipulations of math such as fractals [google.com] . Part of the reason these things are artistic is because they are not judged merely by their mathematical qualities, but based on aesthetic qualities.

I think, if you ask a level designer or a game designer, they will tell you that what they do is art. That's probably fair, since they are "designers" not "level engineers" or "game engineers." What they do is come-up with unique ideas, and draw them given a special set of tools made by a "software engineer." The tools they use are no different from using Adobe Illustrator to draw.

You are right that a hypercube is not art. However, a hypercube can be art [deviantart.com] if it is manipulated in an artistic way. I think that game levels are like that. This doesn't mean that game levels are "high art" but there is certainly an artistic nature to them.

Re:You muust Euthanise it! (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 6 years ago | (#21077553)

Too bad it doesn't really have the visual to match it. It looks like every other FPS distilled down to their most bland elements.

Re:You muust Euthanise it! (4, Insightful)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 6 years ago | (#21077713)

Hmm:

What Portal has: unique, groundbreaking gameplay (well, aside from Narbuncular Drop, which pioneered the idea), great voice acting, good plot/writing (not incredibly involved, but surprising for what I expected was a simple puzzler).

What Portal doesn't have: flashy new graphics.

Are you suggesting the latter is somehow more important than the former? Really? That's pretty sad, if that's the case.

Re:You muust Euthanise it! (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 6 years ago | (#21083631)

No, I am not saying it needs "flashy new graphics". I am saying it needs graphics that look interesting. Right now it looks horribly boring, which means I am less likely to pick it up and play it, and that it is somewhat less enjoyable to play than if it looked good.

"Looking good" does not mean "flashy new graphics". "Looking good" means having some actual art direction, and a look that is its own.

Re:You muust Euthanise it! (2, Insightful)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | more than 6 years ago | (#21078047)

Portal (like most of the orange box ) has a lot of subtle graphic enhancements. The new Source engine enhancements aren't too flashy, but they have it where it counts. For instance, the motion blur that occurs when quickly (most easily visible when looking at a room while falling through an infinite loop) is very subtle, but a wonderful touch of realism. More beautiful (and something not always apparent as I believe it may only appear in multicore systems) is the particle effects. Look at the mini-fireworks display that appears when your portal hits a surface it can't form on; you'll notice that the individual particles react perfectly as they should when encountering the surface and subsequent surfaces as they bounce around until they disappear. Dynamic shadows (while this one is a lot more common in games now) does appear in portal, but isn't nearly as visible as in Episode II, primarily due to the environments Portal takes place in. Finally, the best and most impressive graphical feat is the portals themselves. I'm not talking about how you can see out the other portal (as that effect's been covered) but rather the detail in which passing through the portal occurs in. Rather than be an all or nothing sort of thing like most games, you can actually see the objects pass partially through the portals. You can hold a cube or a radio halfway into a portal and would be nearly unable to tell that it is a flat surface and not a literal hole in space; these sorts of 'edge cases' are the really fantastic graphical highlights of Portal. All of these subtle touches really do put Portal in a perspective that highlights experience, rather than just visualization.

Re:You muust Euthanise it! (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 6 years ago | (#21083661)

Portal (like most of the orange box ) has a lot of subtle graphic enhancements.
"Graphics enhancements" are not what I am talking about. I am talking about art direction. Everything you mention is technical details, which are merely tools used to create the look of a game. The tools themselves are worth nothing, artistically. It is what you do with them that counts.

But more importantly, you also need to do things with the old and tired technical aspects, like simple modelling and texturing. This is where Portal fails, because it looks incredibly bland.

Re:You muust Euthanise it! (1)

Cerberus7 (66071) | more than 6 years ago | (#21083775)

It's supposed to. It's a lab experiment. It's sterile, bland. Yet at the same time, the look is consistent and interesting.

Re:You muust Euthanise it! (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 6 years ago | (#21083883)

I am well aware of that, but that's not it. Looking at it, it doesn't make me think of a bland and sterile lab environment, it makes me think of a bland and sterile FPS. The first would be good (if done right), the second is bad.

Re:You muust Euthanise it! (3, Insightful)

EtoilePB (1087031) | more than 6 years ago | (#21078905)

Yes. Very, very yes.

In fact, the Weighted Companion Cube chamber is one of the most cleverly emotionally manipulative media moments I've ever come across. I mean, Hollywood's got emotion-manipulating down to an art and science but that room in Portal blew right past it.

Because, of course, who would ascribe thought or emotion to the cube if GLaDOS didn't tell you not to? And would you mind incinerating the cube as much if she didn't tell you to "euthanize" it? I genuinely pouted at my computer when I had to put the cube in the fire. The Weighted Companion Cube is, after all, your first ally in the game. And Portal manages to make you feel iffy about sacrificing an inanimate object for your own gain.

I also got chills the first time I heard one of the shooting turret things tell me, "I don't blame you."

Re:You muust Euthanise it! (2, Insightful)

ReverendLoki (663861) | more than 6 years ago | (#21079363)

Myself, I was actually a wee bit miffed when GlaDOS informed me that "no other test subject incinerated their Companion Cube as quickly as I did" (paraphrased, obviously). And that's with the realization right of the bat that she likely says that no matter how long you dawdle beforehand (confirmed when I went back and spent a considerable amount of time trying to knock that last camera of with the cube).

Hurry Mr Bubbles! (1)

metasecure (946666) | more than 6 years ago | (#21076921)

angels don't wait for slowpokes...

Microsoft FTW! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21077061)

I've never seen more emotion evoked from a game console than Microsoft has managed to with their amazing Xbox 360 console.

You may think you've been moved by games before but nothing can top the anger, despair, and even humiliation of having your 360 die right in front of you once again. 360 owners are moved to Shatner level expressions of emotion "Kaaaaaahhhhnnn!!!" "RRRoDDDDDDDDD!!!!"

Mixed with the tendency of the 360 to making sickening grinding noises as it tears up yet another 60 dollar game disc and you have gamers who are now 'filled with emotion' like never before.

Who says Microsoft is nothing but a failure in the console market?

Bravo little Dreamcast 360. Bravo!

Re:Microsoft FTW! (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 6 years ago | (#21077199)

Well...a couple things to touch on, I suppose.

1. The 360 is an awesome console...definately my favourite out of the 3 in the 7th generation... If mine got the dreaded RRoD tomorrow, would I replace it in a heartbeat? Yes. Excellent games, excellent controller, excellent OS...horrid Media Center integration, but hey, that's what TVersity is for ;-)

2. Dreamcast 360? I don't remember the Dreamcast ever having any major technical flaws...in fact, I remember the Dreamcast as being one of the best systems of all time...unfortunately, it also went the way of Psychonauts...those that experienced it loved it...unfortunately, not enough people experienced it and as such not enough commercial games came out for it...I would like to point out, however, that it has a homebrew scene still going quite strong.

Swat 4 is the only one that has got close... (1)

MLCT (1148749) | more than 6 years ago | (#21077073)

On a few of the Swat 4 levels with some emotive content (kidnapped female with sicko kidnapper - religious sect who we don't know much about until we go down to the basement in a gruesome environment and find a lot of shallow kids graves) they got close. The first time I played them the were generating relatively sincere emotive responses - of course on replay it is lost because you know what is coming.

Frustration and disappointment ... (2, Interesting)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 6 years ago | (#21077091)

... are emotions too. Emotions often provoked by games. But usually when people start to talk about emotion and games it's about emotional attachment to characters (love/hate stuff). But come on... it's virtual reality, it's entertainment, why should I feel anything about those characters, they're not real (just like the characters in books and movies).

I think I have something to contribute (1)

Strong Anonymity (1144247) | more than 6 years ago | (#21077097)

Let's take a look at this list of emotions:

fear - implementable, works for many
humor - should work very well
anger - shouldn't be hard (method 1: piss off gamers by making a section very difficult to pass, method 2: [sorry, not my field])
sadness - I think there are many people who wouldn't succumb to sadness (but I don't know very many people, this is just what I may have heard or experienced). I'm extremely susceptible to being moved to tears by romance. I watch a lot of romance anime - I like anime more than real-life shows, and the reasons might be just because the characters are cuter - with real-life characters, you may be prejudiced by their appearance (that girl looks far too promiscuous, that guy looks evil, etc.). In games, however, I haven't seen any really romantic scenes. If a romantic scene comes somewhere near the beginning, you probably won't be able to empathize with the characters yet. There are actually many factors to keep in mind, and it's easy to spoil everything. Adding a lot of comedy works, in my experience, to get the viewer (or gamer) to really like the characters, and wish for them to fall in love and be happy together. Once you're on the right way, it's pretty hard to screw up, but it's not impossible.

Re:I think I have something to contribute (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 6 years ago | (#21077249)

In response to the last portion of your post, I point you in the direction of Illusion of Gaia for the SNES.

Re:I think I have something to contribute (1)

vrmlguy (120854) | more than 6 years ago | (#21078415)

Re: sadness... I recall a game (I won't name it, let someone else post a spoiler) where you play an attorney. You've gone through several cases and learned the "tricks" of winning. Then comes your most important case yet, and nothing works. You try and try *everything* and you keep getting shot down. Finally, you give up let the defense rest. Now you have to talk to your client and face the consequences of your failure. It left me feeling so upset that when a Deus Ex Machina appeared, I wasn't irritated, I was thankful. Now that was a great game, even if it didn't have any re-playability.

mix it up a little (2, Funny)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 6 years ago | (#21077209)

It's refreshing that they're mixing it up a little. The only emotion that 99% of games in the N64 era and before invoked was blind rage :D you know you threw that controller across the room and swore at Bowser for spinning you out in Mari Kart, don't deny it!

Games don't have good story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21077235)

I have no idea why the average gamer insists that his favorite game has a good story. You're watching a cutscene set between unrelated segments of this thing called gameplay. The cutscene was made with a $50,000 budget, if the voice actors are good its coincidence or a special favor to the dev team, the music is usually some variant of something described as ambient, the writing is predictable (half of it is probably just lines the game's director came up with with editing), and at its height its just copying Hollywood.

Games are art because of interaction. Not story. Get over it.

Killer7 has good writing because a guy wrote it in his free time for ten years before turning it into a game. The fact that this kind of dedication and special treatment can't happen for all but the rarest of games plus the fact that it would have to happen about a dozen times in a row means games are not stories.

Re:Games don't have good story (5, Insightful)

Mathonwy (160184) | more than 6 years ago | (#21078039)

Going to nitpick your nitpick a bit, I think: Story != presentation. Story is how you would summarize the game to your friends. Presentation is how the game tells the story to you.

$50,000 cutscenes are one way of presenting story.

So are in-game events.

So are random notes you find in the game environment that hint at what happened.

So are NPC dialogues.

Games that have $50,000 budgets for CG doesn't mean that they have $50,000 stories. It just means that they thought the best way to present their story was with massive FMV. (hint: They're usually wrong.)

I know the moderators will punish me for this one, but people always say Half-life had an excellent story.

In my opinion, these people are on crack. Half-life's story sucked. Seriously. Think about it. Story: "We accidentally made a portal, and it kinda goes to the world of evil aliens, so they invaded. Hooray! This guy in powered armor killed an implausible number of them, and ended the invasion! We're saved!"

Where have I heard that story before? Oh yeah. Doom. Which people seldom accuse of being the height of literature.

What Half-life DID have (and had in spades) was PRESENTATION. It presented the story extremely well by never breaking first-person view, and "showing, not telling". So even though the story was utter crap, it was fun to have told to you, because they were telling it in a way that was completely novel at the time, and that you could explore and trigger at your own pace. The story didn't feel like it was being TOLD to you, it felt like it was HAPPENING to you.

So yeah, games can be art because of the interaction, but they can also be art because of the story they are presenting, through the interaction. I think I basically agree with your point - if you take a game, and just throw some unchanging story in between levels, then you have Final Fantasy, or, as I like to call it, "graphic novels punctuated by minigames". But there are also games that have been art specifically BECAUSE of their story, and the way the game made you feel like you were in charge of it and calling the shots, and that it felt awesome.

Planescape:Torment is a good example of a game that was like this.

Games can also be art when they present a story that is mostly static, but that is presented in a way that lets the player explore it and all the ramifications. Mind Forever Voyaging is a good example of this.

Heck, games can even be art based purely on their visual presentation. I think you could make an excellent case for Okami, purely on the grounds of its graphical style alone.

Sorry, I'm getting a bit far afield here. Back to the point: Games can be art because of the story. Or just about anything else. The interaction isn't the art in itself; the interaction is the "special sauce" that lets you explore the aspect of it that IS art, and makes it more than it was originally, due to the personal connection. Whether that aspect is story, graphics, or who knows what. Just because some studio dropped $50k on trying to make some flashy FMVs as a misguided attempt to cover up the fact that their story wasn't good, doesn't mean that games can't be art because of story.

Provoking emotion? (2, Funny)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#21077275)

It's called griefing.

Re:Provoking emotion? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21077683)

It's called griefing.
grieving

Re:Provoking emotion? (1)

Monkey (16966) | more than 6 years ago | (#21078761)

griefing [wikipedia.org]

Kana: Little sister (2, Interesting)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 6 years ago | (#21077307)

Call me a pussy but I have cried 4 of 6 hours I played this game. And I couldn't sleep properly for a week, feeling too much grief (tried to be the perfect brother and got one of the intellectual endings).

Read this review [mobygames.com] , the guy felt the same.

Re:Kana: Little sister (1)

Paul Slocum (598127) | more than 6 years ago | (#21077787)

Yes, but with only 30 decisions and 6 possible endings, it barely qualifies a game. More of a computer-based graphic novel.

Re:Kana: Little sister (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 6 years ago | (#21079359)

Yeah. I cried too. Two frigging days on the slowest torrent ever, then it's like ten choices in and half an hour of dreary screens full of text describing bugger all happening, and nobody's even got their kit off yet!

Seriously, though - I'm not sure I want to play that game. If it is that emotionally involving, and the girl's meant to be your little sister and all, how fucking warped are the sex scenes going to be?

Re:Kana: Little sister (1)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081879)

not very explicit and you also don't need to do her (and she is adopted anyway).
you'll laugh, but i play bishoujo games for the story only and skip all h-scenes.

kana and crescendo were the best for me so far.

Re:Kana: Little sister (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21082951)

Definately. Cried more playing this game than any other.

Bugger, just admitted to playing an H-Game. Thank god for anonymity.

come on (2, Insightful)

nomadic (141991) | more than 6 years ago | (#21077321)

Planetfall!

Re:come on (1)

Gulthek (12570) | more than 6 years ago | (#21077709)

No Floyd! We can find another way!

Nooooooo!

Re:come on (1)

Shipwack (684009) | more than 6 years ago | (#21078125)

-That- is the first time a game had elicited feelings like that from me... I actually teared up a little. Maybe it was going from being frustrated with Floyd to being grateful at his becoming less annoying to the sudden loss... Oddly enough, I didn't feel as much emotion playing Ultima V, when I lost Iolo... Even though V had grapphics and Planetfall didn't, I felt stronger connection to the characters and events of the text based Planetfall...

Re:come on (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 6 years ago | (#21078225)

Oddly enough, I didn't feel as much emotion playing Ultima V, when I lost Iolo...

Well you didn't have to lose Iolo, since it wasn't a necessary part of the game.

I will say, emotion or no, Ultima V makes my top 5 of all time list.

Don't forget (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 6 years ago | (#21077333)

(spoiler warning)

System Shock 2 expertly held the possibility just barely out of reach of meeting another normal human being on board the Von Braun and Rickenbacker. Meeting Polito, your single human voice of guidance, halfway through, only to find out the truth of what SHODAN had done to her, was a stroke of storytelling so masterful that M. Night Shyamalan should cry himself to sleep at night for sucking by comparison.

Re:Don't forget (1)

morari (1080535) | more than 6 years ago | (#21078769)

M. Night Shyamalan should cry himself to sleep at night for sucking by comparison.
In comparison to what, a steamy pile of dog droppings?

Music (4, Interesting)

king-manic (409855) | more than 6 years ago | (#21077381)

I find my emotions being toyed with via the music more often then anything else. As well crafted as the plot is in planescape, Deionarra Theme did more then any words. FF6 may have had a nice interesting story but it would not have been ass successful with a lesser sound track. I find thats what fails about other games for me. Oblivion never moved me at all because of it's rather generic sound track. ditto for the fallout games.

Re:Music (1)

xarien (1073084) | more than 6 years ago | (#21078233)

I completely agree. I remember the playing through FF4 for the first time and the music does a 360 from danger to melancholy when the twins sacrifice themselves. Good memories indeed.

Re:Music (1)

Verity_Crux (523278) | more than 6 years ago | (#21080133)

I totally agree on the music. X-COM used to make me jump when the enemy would shoot at me out of the darkness. It was the music that was totally engrossing to the point that you forgot it wasn't real.

I also remember how excited I felt in Dragon Warrior 4 when I finally got to the chapter with my warrior that I created at the beginning of the game. I don't even know what pulled me into the game that much, but that was a great game.

Not Oblivion, but Morrowind (1)

speedy.carr (878612) | more than 6 years ago | (#21081613)

You say that the music in Oblivion bored you. I never played the game, not owning an xbox 360 or a pc that could run it, but I did get to play a LOT of Morrowind. And one thing that hugely affected your emotions while playing that game was the music. The second the combat music comes on, all of my senses go on alert, I prep my good weapon or spell, and I can feel adrenaline pumping through my veins. The songs in that game had a visceral effect on me. Plus, I just thought that the non-combat music was so epic, it made me feel really good as I loped across plains for like 10 minutes to get to a city with no means of transportation.

It sucks that they couldn't give the user that wonderful musical experience in Oblivion, but in my opinion they totally nailed it in Morrowind.

Re:Not Oblivion, but Morrowind (1)

HiVizDiver (640486) | more than 6 years ago | (#21086943)

I wholeheartedly agree. I have the main Morrowind theme in MP3 format, and just enjoy listening to it as a quality piece of music in its own right. It's a beautiful, sweeping score that enhances the epic feel of the game.

Sad Girls in Snow (1)

Guppy (12314) | more than 6 years ago | (#21077531)

Take a look at any of the huge number of Japanese Galgames [wikipedia.org] , where the focus is on the story and the emotions. Indeed, taken to their extreme, they turn into visual novels like Kanon [wikipedia.org] where the gameplay is reduced to making a few choices, or something like Planetarian [wikipedia.org] , where it is essentially absent.

Emotions in games (1)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 6 years ago | (#21077671)

An emotional response in games is not difficult to achieve any more so than a book or a movie, if anything it is easier because you have a longer contact period with the main character than you do in any other medium, we have many long books but how many are as long as a good Japanese RPG?

People who have never felt any emotions in games should really try to play through a silent hill, while I didn't have any emotions for the characters themselves, the environment is very much a creepy and it's very difficult for it not to provoke a sense of paranoid and a sensation of being unsafe even in the safest areas. Rather than go with shock horror it just puts you in a position where everything seems evil, where you don't know if you should curl up in the corner with a gun and hope everything goes away or continue deeper into the nightmare like world to get out of it quicker. In modern life we rarely come across such situations so in a game it is very disturbing to feel.

The "are games art" argument is a difficult one but one again I think Silent hill addresses, It does not have the best graphics, it does not have the best acting, but all the small details pull it together to make an entire product that expresses things, tells a good story and invokes ideas and thoughts in your head. There is much argument about what art is, but to myself art is something that provokes thoughts you would not have thought otherwise in a styled medium of some sort. I feel games can be art, but games like Halo and Bioshock aren't where I would look got art in games, I would look at Mario and Zelda, where the style of the art is clearly defined in a set way rather than just trying to make it look as real as possible.

Dogmeat!!! Don't get between me and the.... (3, Funny)

vertinox (846076) | more than 6 years ago | (#21077925)

*burst fire*

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!

*bangs keyboard angrily*

Obligatory Silent Hill reference... (1)

holiggan (522846) | more than 6 years ago | (#21077955)

For a chunkfull of emotions on a videogame, I sugest the Silent Hill series, specially Silent Hill 2. IMHO, it's the most well crafted piece of "videogame art", simply because every component fits so nicelly, and because it can generate real emotions in the player (at least in me, and in the handfull of people that I know that enjoyed it).

From the (doomed) main character to the twisted monsters, to the secondary characters to the antagonists to the story, to the setting, to the music, it all comes together in such a way that you can't avoid it: you'll feel moved by it, enraged by it, frustrated by it. You'll be sucked into that world, and you'll be in front row for the emotional events that will be unveiled. Yes, it's "just a game", but then again, Shakespeare masterpieces are "just books" too, and that doesn't detract a bit from their geniality.

Single-player Doom was great for this... (3, Insightful)

Richard Steiner (1585) | more than 6 years ago | (#21078029)

I learned to use my ears as much as my eyes when going through the single-player levels, and there were certain creature sounds on Doom that would just send shivers up my spine whenever I heard them.

Some of them still do. :-) :-)

Re:Single-player Doom was great for this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21079639)

Doom II was better for this. The Arch-Vile sound...

Anger and frustration was great for this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21081431)

I noticed anger and frustration isn't listed. GRAW and the VIP2 level come to mind. It took me three days to get past that level.

Am I the only one? (1)

wamerocity (1106155) | more than 6 years ago | (#21078053)

I don't know about you guys, but I cried the first time playing through final fantasy VII after I had spent probably 6 hours leveling up Aeris to get her lvl. 4 Limit break, only to become so abruptly aware of what a waste of time it was.

Re:Am I the only one? (1)

Terminal Saint (668751) | more than 6 years ago | (#21078197)

I cried playing FFVII when I realized how many people would never play FFVI and think FFVII was the best RPG ever.

Re:Am I the only one? (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 6 years ago | (#21078321)

I cried playing FFVII when I realized how many people would never play FFVI and think FFVII was the best RPG ever.

That's the truth. The only sad thing about Aeris' death was the fact that I wasted so much damn time and gil building her up instead of another character.

BG2 pissed me off with Yoshimo for the same reason, actually.

Re:Am I the only one? (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 6 years ago | (#21078953)

I cry when I read posts on slashdot where people assert the objective superiority of one FF over another. Seriously, for God's sake, can't we just leave each other in peace? I played FFVI and FFVII. I liked FFVII better. I leave the FFVI fans alone, now do the same courtesy for us... not that hard.

On-topic, I didn't cry at any point during FFVII. FF8 and FFX made me get pretty choked up at points though.

Re:Am I the only one? (1)

saramakos (693903) | more than 6 years ago | (#21079969)

I must second that. I think FFX is one of the few games that have had me really FEEL something due to the story rather than blind rage from bad gameplay.

Then again, Kingdom Hearts has made me feel violent towards whoever programmed the camera!

Re:Am I the only one? (1)

steveo777 (183629) | more than 6 years ago | (#21084123)

That's funny, because FFVIII made me feel blind rage from the game play. And FFX made me want to cry when I I realized I was at the end because, well, I had wasted that much time waiting for the game to 'get good'. It's not that I think it's an inherently bad game, or I would not have gotten that far (have not actually beaten the game). I just think that their story lines have been so over the top since VII that they get, for the lack of a better word, corny.

For the record, I've been enjoying XII. But not enough to pour enough time in to beat it under my current schedule. And with Fire Emblem, Assassin's Creed, and Mass Effect coming out, I don't think FFXII will be off the shelf any time soon.

Alter Ego (3, Interesting)

Darkforge (28199) | more than 6 years ago | (#21078147)

Like the game says: What if you could live your life over again? [theblackforge.net]

If you make it all the way to the end of this game and you don't feel anything, you're not really a human being. ;-)

(Full disclaimer: I ported AE to the web from the Commodore 64.)

Re:Alter Ego (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 6 years ago | (#21078801)

Interesting, I'll have to try that game out when I have more time.

For a second, though, I thought you were referring to "A Mind Forever Voyaging." I'd also argue that if you make it to the end of that game and you don't feel anything, you should check your pulse. Absolutely amazing game.

Re:Alter Ego (1)

Sowelu (713889) | more than 6 years ago | (#21079017)

I remember Alter Ego in four-color goodness. That was a wonderful game; some parts hit you really hard. I remember being annoyed at not being able to play many of the choices each game, and eventually realised that it was making a very telling statement about life. Also, a life that you can have wonderful plans for and then go and be an aggressive driver and plunge off a cliff.

Re:Alter Ego (1)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 6 years ago | (#21080913)

Man. I was tortured and buried in a landfill. :( Le sad sigh.

Using bad examples... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21078473)

I can't help, but begrudge the examples that are still chosen to convey the "games as art" motif. Bioshock being the media darling as of now, still falls into the archaic form of a videogame emulating a cinematic work. As well as Final Fantasy VII being one of the first to imploring a CG sequence for your emotions. Although, great games both slightly fail to impart the uniqueness of what the videogame medium can express at it's fullest potential. Both tread on already explored paths from previous games (System Shock 2 and FFVI), which already touched those emotions in story, and is merely a by product of the craft. Except for Shadow of Colossus (IMO, anyways), both these titles are increasingly being cited, but are not the caliber of what great videogame works can become.

Two notable examples, Another World and Street Fighter II, are just a duo that when compared to many more, but I'll stick with two that will illicit a better emotion from non-gaming persons, yet provide a much better representation of the art form when contrasted with other mediums.

Another World (aka Out of This World) is one title that explicitly delves into the exploration of being a stranger in a far off land with, a feeling that anyone who has traveled will understrand. Your presented with aliening beasts, and haven't a clue on how to proceed. However, the game being a bit difficult, provides a journey of discovery with it's many struggles the player will have to succumb to. The feeling is mutual similar to a movie that gives you insight to a whole new world or a book that reveal a underlying society.

Why Street Fighter II some of you may ask? Well, the game provides a visceral experience on par with what performance art can bring. With two combatants facing off in battle, you merely are the participant and interpret your own fights. An engaging experience can be had, ery much like a children pretending to play or a ballet dancer telling a story, it is up to you has a spectator to elucidate your own understanding of its meaning.

Okay, maybe I was a bit harsh on the previous titles, but surely gamers and journalist must be able to find more titles and give the layman a better pickings. One can expound a different view of things with a wider selection to choose from, other then the same tired arguments.

Mod parent up! (1)

radimvice (762083) | more than 6 years ago | (#21080811)

Very well said, I agree with AC's thoughts entirely. I'm sick of the same old, tired, thoughtless discussions surrounding the 'can games make you cry?' topic. Good video games have been provoking powerful, meaningful, life-changing emotions in games since the beginning of their existence - not just 'omgz this is fun'. The reason your standard media journalists and filmmaker types can't seem to understand that is because they typically only understand 'emotion' in a strictly cinematic or narrative (ie, passive) sense, keep trying to 'read' games as typical story-driven movies or novels. The whole innovative potential of videogames is for the player to create his own emotional moments through actions that generate epiphany and aporia, success and failure.

Sure, you can keep clamoring for more immersive, story-driven 'emotion' in games, and the game studios will keep cranking it out for the masses who still depend on a passive, linear, developer-babysitter experience because they can't generate emotion for themselves through their own creative play.

Games don't make you feel ashamed about something you've done? Surely this guy must have heard of hentai games? (snicker)

Seriously though, because games depend on player action, they tend to provoke emotions that correspond to the real world rather than a fictional fantasy. Take your typical multiplayer game-world, there are tons of ways to lie, cheat, steal, hack, or just generally be harmful and even hurtful to other players. While getting a teammate kicked out of a guild forcing him to find a new group of friends to play with isn't quite as horrid as slaughtering innocent children, the former actually happens in real life while the latter is simply a harmless fiction.

If the games this guy plays always end up making him feel 'good', then he's probably just wasting money on mindless mass-market entertainment, you can easily read pulp fiction or watch hollywood blockbusters and get the same result there. If a game manages to transform your experience of the world, of others, or of yourself and your own real emotions, then you don't need a storyline to tell you what to think or how to act, you're already truly at play.

The Baron (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21078499)

A few days ago I played a text-based game called "The Baron," and it was the single most disturbing gaming experience I've ever had. I can't say I enjoyed the game, but it definitely elicited a potent emotional response. I briefly described the game to a friend, and she was worried my description of the plot would give her nightmares... I would provide a link, but I'm at work and considering the subject matter, I don't particularly want to look it up from here. I only recommend this game if you want to experience something very disturbing - don't go into it expecting Zork.

What compromises immersion (1)

mrCasual (1136551) | more than 6 years ago | (#21078779)

I think a key factor that compromises immersion in a game compared to a movie is the lack of permanence. When Johnny Protagonist eats a bullet in a movie, there's no going back. When you in a video game, as Pacman Master Chief Protagonist the Hedgehog, eat a laser blast from a Zerg, you wait three seconds to regenerate at your last save point and try again. You're never more than a reboot from undoing your last stupid deed.

I commit emotionally to a tattoo. Less so, a haircut.

Re:What compromises immersion (1)

Sowelu (713889) | more than 6 years ago | (#21079049)

Hence, long plotful games where your actions have plot consequences way down the line. You can do that as simply as building up an epilogue based on what happened in the game (like in Fallout), or you can have something where you can choose to save or not save a city, and then be forced to go there a few hours later and observe just how many people died because you weren't enough of a hero. Unfortunately, games where you don't know the consequences for a long time after you've committed to an action can be really annoying if you don't want to play through them repeatedly. The rest of the game, in between those important choices, just starts to seem like filler.

white chamber (1)

Fanro (130986) | more than 6 years ago | (#21078849)

The White Chamber [studiotrophis.com] was the first Adventure-style Game that honestly scared me

Animal Crossing: Futility. (3, Funny)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21079009)

A month after I paid off my house in each Animal Crossing game, the emotion of realizing that my actions are futile came upon me: "Why am I still doing this?"

I Robot (1)

pokerdad (1124121) | more than 6 years ago | (#21079173)

Perhaps its just me, but the reason I have always felt that emotional response is not a requirement for something to be considered art is that a great many things that are considered art don't bring out any emotion in me; its pretty rare for a painting or photo to elicit emotion in me - some do, but for most its just "oh, that looks nice". While music often brings out emotions there is plenty of music, including some I quite enjoy, that don't bring out any emotion.

Meanwhile there are plenty of things that are not art by any reasonable definition that do elicit deep emotions (for example, particular sporting events).

So I don't know if I'm in the minority, but to me it seems like emotion is a poor criteria.

It's a false front (2, Insightful)

Gnostic Ronin (980129) | more than 6 years ago | (#21079431)

I think this is one of the dead ends. What I want to be able to do is make moral choices that affect the entire world. I want to be able to decide that the cost of saving the world is just too high and leave. I want to have choices between different courses of action and have a consequence to whatever I choose to do.

If the cost of saving Spira is allowing Yuna to die, why the hell isn't it my choice to make? Why does the game present such a moral dilemma just to have the game decide for me? Why is it that after discovering that Kohint will disappear after I destroy the Wind Fish, the game presents me with no alternative? That isn't realistic, at least not to me. It's never me playing the role or connecting with the characters. I might like them, but considering that I have zero power to decide what happens in the world, I may as well be watching a movie.

I think games will become more emotional once you get the power that video games promise. That you and only you can decide how and why you want to save the world. Or even *if* you think that saving the world is a good idea. It's supposed to be me playing the role -- let me play in the sandbox and decide that some actions are right and some are wrong. Put up a consequence, make me suffer for a bad choice. Just let me choose.

portal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21079509)

Surprised nobody has mentioned portal. That game evoked a far more powerful emotional response than BioShock could ever do (primarily due to the distraction of crappy PC controls.) I was quite surprised during the ending to have emotions as powerful as I did. I'm not even sure what the emotions were. A weird feeling of intense joy, the kind that nearly brings tears to your eye, tinged with a sort of sadness that the game was over and that my interaction with the wonderful being I killed. Maybe it was because she was so happy for me...

Art is orthogonal to emotion (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 6 years ago | (#21083963)

It is neither necessary nor sufficient for art to evoke an emotional reaction, although that may suit the artist's purpose.

It is neither necessary nor sufficient for art to evoke an intellectual reaction, although that may suit the artist's purpose.

To be art, it has to evoke an aesthetic reaction, which in turn sometimes evokes an emotional and intellectual response. It is perfectly possible for art to be cold, austere, and so abstract that it is beyond the realms of human experience that can talked about meaningfully. Often an overwrought emotional or intellectual response is a sign that person responding has missed the point.

ICO (1)

OmgTEHMATRICKS (836103) | more than 6 years ago | (#21084229)

I can't believe he forgot to mention ICO. That is quite possibly the most emotionally affecting game of all time. The last stretch of the game from the bridge back to the throne room and then the ending was chock full of so much feeling that I wanted to burst. Never have I felt so sad, vengeful, and happy all at the same time. I definitely suggest ICO to anyone who wants an extraordinary experience. Oh in case you didn't know, this was the debut game of the Shadow of the Colossus guys.

Silent Hill (1)

greedyturtle (968401) | more than 6 years ago | (#21084385)

Finishing the original Silent Hill, with the bad ending, was the first real emotional response I ever got from a game. "Holy shit" comes to mind as being spoken aloud, alone at night. It's endings didn't screw around with 'moral choices' and 'ethical dilemmas.' If you were able to unravel enough of the nooks and crannies to actually save the others, you got the 'good' endings. I should say 'successful' endings since that first, 'bad' ending was the best I'd ever seen.

As that horn whispered into the fog, you realize that Silent Hill beat YOU.

Silent Hill 2 has so far been the only game that I've played where about 2/3 of the way through it I actually began to feel like I (the human player, not the character) was being manipulated by some demon they'd cursed my PS2 disk with at Konami's satanic factories.

Torment, anyone? (1)

misterooga (1172837) | more than 6 years ago | (#21084933)

I think it's one of the few games where I realized the game ended when the credit rolled. I mean, I knew it was a game but the story was so involved that when the game really ended (one of many endings, from what I hear), I realized this is it. Then awe and sense of completion followed. And desire for more that never... I should get back to it one of these days.

Photopia, Blue Chairs (1)

Gulthek (12570) | more than 6 years ago | (#21085047)

Yes, they are both text adventures. But they also happen to be two of the most moving stories I have read, played, or watched.

Photopia [wurb.com]

Blue Chairs [wurb.com]

provoking emotion is easy (1)

Astarica (986098) | more than 6 years ago | (#21086081)

There's a tried and true way to provoke emotions via killing people off. Assuming the characters you developed are actually any good, killing them off will most likely provoke some kind of response.

Another easy way like some described with Shadow of Colossus is that it turns out you were just going around killing babies or whatever all this time. That has been used at least as early as Terranigma where most of your effort in the game was help to revive a mad scientist who once wiped out the entire Earth. And yes it's easy to provoke some kind of emotional response when you found that you were just commiting crimes against humanity all this time without knowing it.

But more importantly, the question is did you have a choice? If the game is like 'you must kill 100 babies to get to next stage' then no I don't think it means anything. It's sad that Aeris died in FF7 but she did not have a choice. The game pretty much indicated that she must die for the story and the game to continue. There is no remote indication that there was anything you could have done to avoid her death. If you want to provoke emotions without just being cheesy, there has to be at least the illusion of choice. Terranigma, with its openness, was a game where it seems like you can delay the doomsday scenario forever if you wanted to. Sure nothing will happen but it was fun just exploring the peaceful version of the world. When you pick up the Hero Pike and the Hero Armor and accept the responsibility of being the hero, that's when your comrades start to fall one by one, ending with the death of the hero himself. The hero questions whether saving the world is really what he wanted to do if it meant the death of all his close friends. In the ending you're shown that you could have just ran away and live out your life as a normal boy if you simply didn't open the Pandora's Box at the very beginning. Although there is no actual choice for 'run away and never do anything', the game clearly shows you that could have been your choice. That's why giving that world up is meaningful.

This applies to character dying, a common way to inject emotion into a game. Unfortunately I can't think of any game where I actually have any say, or even the illusion of having a say, on the death of a character.
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