An insight into why emotional games matter.**Spoilers!!**
Games have the ability to put forth a story that can be engrained into us. They show us a story in which we have little control over and we have to accept the outcomes. They can give us a range of multiple emotions to run through and there are a whole bunch of emotional games now that can make us feel the realness of a virtual game.
Games such as The Last Guardian (2016) and Journey (2012) have a double hit where you have a sense of pain but then there is relief.
In The Last Guardian, you spend the game befriending and working with Trico (a giant bird/mammal) to escape a lost city. You build a strong friendship with the loveable Trico through pain and hope until the end. Trico then saves you and brings you home, where Trico is then attacked by the village in terror, where your character states “I doubt it has long to live” as Trico flies away from the village with spears in its body. You are then hit with a drop of sadness as your new friend flies off to die. Until you find an item years after the incident that calls to Trico. You then point the item to the sky, where you are then flown to the starting point of the game, where you see Trico wake up with another smaller Trico creature next to it.
With Journey your path is clear; get to the mountain top with the help of the magical ribbons to help you along your journey and avoid the guardians that steal your power. As you get closer to the mountain, there are the ribbons that also help you regain your power. Once you are afoot the mountain, you start to see the guardians destroying the ribbons while you get slower walking through the blizzard, finding tombstones of previous journeys. All seems lost as you drop to the snow and the screen darkens, until you are face to face with other bigger figures similar to yourself (you have met these through the game previously). They fly you to the mountain top where all looks like paradise. Once you enter the mountain, you are then shot out as a glowing star that travels through the map you have journeyed through and then lands at the starting point where the sun rises.
There is no doubt that these games could wrestle up some emotions as both the developers of the games (Thatgamecompany, Team Ico/Sony Interactive Entertainment) normally hit the emotional story scenario but that’s because they’re very good at it.
Their idea is to have you play the character through a troubled environment and scenarios, where you have help to progress, so that you build a familiarity with these allies. Once you reach the end, you are then stripped of the friendship and the allies, all then seems hopeless. But then there is a moment of clarity when you realise you can’t carry on and have to take a different approach. You are then reassured by seeing that everything is still good and that there are always different ways in life to move forward and progress.
This is relatable for everyone as we have all experienced pain in some way but then it gives us hope that maybe in the near or far future, there is something greater in ourselves to strive for and never to give up. In the same way that we experience loss but there is always happiness as we can recollect the pain and turn it into hope for our future.
I don’t know if games that have this storytelling scenario hope for this outcome or it’s just a happy accident but I think that either way, games that make us feel this always help people realise their reality a bit more, even though the characters and their virtual life aren’t real, the emotions we feel are.
Thank you and keep playing.