Emotional impact in gaming
Hello everyone, I'm new to the PCG community but I've been following the site for awhile. I am a big fan of the quality of the articles on this site, and hope it continues.
Anyway I wanted to ask a simple question to the community:
What is your favorite game that has impacted you in an emotional way?
I have a pretty bad anxiety disorder, and as a side effect it's hard for me to really feel emotion properly. However, the occasional times when I do usually come from games; being able to choose your character's actions allows you to identify in a way that a movie or book will be hard pressed to deliver. I'm not a gamer for the sake of gameplay, but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate a good game. I'd like to clarify that while I don't mind cutscenes or an experience and story driven game, that doesn't necessarily mean I am a call of duty fanboy. In fact, I detest shallow experiences such as those. I'd like to mention a few of my favorite games which have affected me emotionally or sparked my barren imagination.
Biggest surprise: Far Cry 3
To tell you the truth, I really didn't expect much from FC3. Maybe that's why it was so good; I was able to let my barriers down because I was expecting to be bored. Everyone loves to mock the opening scene where you hang with your dudebros, but to me that really sets the stage for the whole experience. The opening part lets you empathize slightly with a normal person having a normal vacation before everything gets turned upside down.
I also loved all the little reactions to things in the beginning, like when Jason freaks out when his brother stabs the pirate. It's very believable for someone who had probably never even been in a fistfight. Another part that was brilliant was when Jason gets his tattoo for the first time and Dennis says something along the lines of "I have set you free!" Very much like a certain scene in Fight Club. If you haven't seen that movie, you should. But I digress.
When it first dropped me into the open world with only a pistol, all the different systems interacted beautifully. I was on my way to hunt some boars when a car full of pirates drove by, and I scrambled into some shrubbery. And then was promptly attacked by four komodo dragons with only my pistol to defend myself with. After barely surviving and then using some mystical healing drugs, I realized that Far Cry 3 had ignited something deep and primal inside of me. I remember playing through a Call of Duty campaign two years ago, hoping to get this kind of an adrenaline rush. But it never happened, and I got thoroughly bored. However, Far Cry 3 managed to give me it, and I think it was because of character progression. I don't want to admit it, but some part of me identified with the whiny, lazy Jason Brody from the beginning. And then that part of me was forced to become a hardened warrior very quickly, and that unlocked something primal inside of me. Playing the game now, that has all pretty much gone away. Once you realize how easy everything is, most of that initial thrill seems to go away. But that first bit was probably one of my most enjoyable gaming experiences. Anyway, to recap: I am thoroughly impressed with Far Cry 3. And sorry for rambling on about it.
Dishonored: What can I say, it's brilliant. What affected me was a combination of complete freedom of choice, art design, and Emily. I felt sad in all the right parts, and vengeful in all the right parts. I tried hard to be good, I really did. But it wasn't enough, and eventually I succumbed to revenge and madness. And when the credits rolled, I felt satisfied with the "bad" ending. Why? Because I tried hard, and in the end it all slipped away. And it felt good.
Biggest disappointment for me: Assassin's creed 3
To preface, I absolutely loved the first game. I also quite liked the second game, but that was entirely due to Ezio's character rather than anything else. The first game, to me, was about freedom. You climbed tall towers because you were free, and everywhere Altair climbed eagles followed. When the people wanted to be free, Altair became one with the people, one with the crowd, and then freed them. Combine that with really interesting settings, and a somewhat intriguing sci fi plot and I believe it to be one of my favorite games ever. Brotherhood was alright, a fun world to explore but no real emotional impact. Same with revelations. And AC3... oh how far has this franchise fallen. To quote the RPS review, " Assassin's creed 3 is a fat game." I completely agree. Once I realized that it was never going to be like the first game, I at least hoped for interesting character development like the second game. That was not to be either. Connor is a brick, and has no emotions.
It had SO much potential, in both of those categories. The revolutionary war is the perfect stage for a game about freedom (sorry if I offend any Brits in saying this, I think Britain is a delightful country where people drink tea and talk about Mary Poppins. Note: I'm being facetious.), and Connor's personal story is perfect for creating another Ezio type of character. Sadly, freedom is the opposite of this game. It doesn't even give the player any freedom, let alone the people. And then there's the assassinations, or lack thereof. When you fire up AC1, it plays a little intro movie before you get to the menu. If one were to take the time to watch this, it depicts a picture perfect assassination. And what I liked most was that in the first game, it gives you the freedom to try and create these perfect assassinations. It doesn't force you too, but when you do it feels magical and liberating. Assassin's creed 3 doesn't have very many assassinations, and the ones it has don't give you any freedom, and often just introduce cutscenes.
To sum up: When I was climbing up to a viewpoint in AC3, there was an eagle sitting at the top. While I climbed up slowly, that eagle did not fly away, but rather just sat there. It sat there until I reached the very top where it grudgingly, and lazily, left its perch. That about sums up my experience with this game.
On a side note, and these aren't games from this year, I would highly recommend Ubisoft's prince of persia trilogy. Or at least sands of time and warrior within, everything after that was pretty crap. Warrior within is probably the closest I've ever come to playing a perfect game, though, and I highly recommend it to anyone.
So, I've rambled on for quite awhile now but what I really want to know is what games you've all played that have had a memorable impact, emotional or psychological. And I know the prince of persia games aren't that well regarded, so if anyone wants to debate over why or why not they're good, feel free.