Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Emotion in Games

Just like movies, video games are a form of entertainment. Just like movies, sometimes we let outselves get caught up in the stories as well. Nobody would think twice if you told them you cried when Old Yeller died. What would someone think if you told them that you got shed a tear for something that happened in a video game? They would probably scoff and think you are some sort of weirdo. Is this fair?

Lets take a look at the difference between the two. The first obvious difference is that most movies have live actors in them while video games do not. However, there have been plenty of cartoons that have made someone shed a tear (I am looking at you Disney). Would the same people who cried at a cartoon criticize the person who got emotional over an event in a video game?

The second big part of this is time invested. Even the shortest of games gives you more entertainment time that any movie. Most movies last between 1.5-3 hours. Console action games usually last between 10-20 hours of playtime, while RPGs may last into the hundreds in hours. MMOs are a completly different animal as they do not have an end for the most part. It is safe to say that if you play an MMO, you are putting much more time and effort into it that say, watching Titanic.

While watching a movie, you are completly detached. You are sitting on your sofa or the chair at the theatre watching a movie. There is no interaction. In a game, you are usually playing an avatar which is a pixelated extension of yourself. You control what goes on around you. You are happy when you do something "heroic" and may get pissed when you "die".

WoW has several quest lines and angles that can get you emotionally invested. Wrath Gate comes to mind. Bolvar was the leader of Stormwind for 3 plus years. You passed him every time that you ran to a Battleground in Stormwind and even did a few quests for him. He was also without a doubt the most badass of the Alliance bosses. Then one day, he is just dead. It was a sad moment in the lore of WoW. The siege into undercity was also an emotional type quest that has you storming into Undercity with revenge on your mind.

My whole reason behind this post is Ulduar coming up. In that instance, you will be taking down so people that you may have some strong in game history with. To me, it is a bit sad that we have to take down Hodir, especially after Thrusting his Spear, Polishing his Nob...errr Helm, and Blowing his Horn over and over. We are exalted among his sons (I just hit exalted with them yesterday, yay), but we are going to kill him. Same goes for Thorim and Freya. We helped Thorim make up with the Sons of Hodir and get his grove back. Then we accidentally betrayed him and got him captured by Loken. We helped Freya's Avatar clear out the scourge in Scholazar Basin and now we are going to smash her to bits.

It would be nice if instead of killing these characters, we set them free and they come and help us at the end of the instance against Yogg Saron. How epic would it be to get the boss nearly down and here comes a bunch of Titans to finish him off. I hope that this is the route Blizzard takes. I love the lore of WoW and hate to see great characters get killed off.


The Renaissance Man said...

The problem with having us help the titans, rather than defeating them, is that it is contrary to the very nature of the game. The characters are the stars, not the NPCs.

This is my story. It is your story. It is the tale of anyone who signs up to play. Having someone else become the driving force in an event diminishes the player. I enjoyed the lore behind the Wrathgate quests, but when I got to confront the Duskbringer underneath Wintergarde with Bolvar, or storm Undercity with Jaina and Wyrnn, I thought it was cool, at first. However, when I realized that I was essentially superfluous to the story at that point, I was dissapointed. Bolvar would defeat that Lich regardless of what I did. Lord knows that killing maching Wrynn would have wiped the floor with Putress, with or without my assistance. I was relegated to a supporting role. I was diminished, and it disapointed me.

Killing of lore characters isn't a big concern of mine. There's a ton left, and they can still make more if needed. Even after Wrath runs it's full measure, we still have multiple Old Gods, three Elemental Lords, 4 Dragon Aspects, Azshara, Kil'Jaeden, and Sargeras left to kill. That's if they don't introduce a single new character. Plenty of story left.

Fish said...

1 word, sephiroth. Never have I wanted to kill a character so much. If you can't get emotionally invested in a game, I find it unfulfilling. I heard GTA IV has an ending kind of like that.

Pangoria Fallstar said...

@fish: Everyone says sephiroth this sephiroth that, but to me the king of villains I wanted to kill has always been Kefka.

Pangoria Fallstar said...

@Darraxus: I still tell people how the opera scene from FF3 made me cry. Those who play games, especially RPGs like me understand. Just like books have made me cry, yet the same people who laugh at you about emotions from games will laugh at you from feeling emotions from books.

Just understand that they don't get it, and probably never will.

Darraxus said...

While I agree that we are the "stars", that does not make us the most powerful creatures in the game. As far as being a star, wouldnt having the gratitude of the Titans make you a star?