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Can Games Make You Cry? 379

Ground Glass writes "'Can games make you cry?' is a ridiculously simple question to ask about a hideously complex issue. Worse, it's possible that the very question itself muddies the answer. Next Generation's approach is a little more thoughtful; by figuring out what questions each medium tries to answer free of the art issue, it cuts to the heart of what games can do. With the tools made clear, it then theorizes what said tools can do emotionally." From the article: "In film, you can show a character staring at a point before him and then change perspective to show what he was staring at; it is the proximity and timing of the imagery that lends significance to the second shot. In painting, you can play with the two-dimensional space and qualities of the material at hand to create similarly suggestive juxtapositions of imagery, color, symbolism, perspective, lending greater insight into the workings of the medium, the subject at hand, the painter herself, and - ultimately - the viewer and his own perspective on the world around him."
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Can Games Make You Cry?

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  • One Word... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by poodlehat ( 919902 ) <angela DOT anuszewski AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday July 27, 2006 @01:34PM (#15792498) Journal
  • by DesireCampbell ( 923687 ) <> on Thursday July 27, 2006 @01:38PM (#15792554) Homepage
    Games are an art form just like films or books. These other art-forms can instill a wide range of feeling into those playing/watching/reading them. Interactive media has come a long way since it's inception a few short decades ago, and already there are games which can made you happy, excited, they can move you, or they can scare you, some even make you laugh. It stands to reason that a game can make you cry, it's just a matter of "what game", and "when".

  • AERIS 4 shure! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Dangolo ( 974232 ) on Thursday July 27, 2006 @01:53PM (#15792738)
    this part will prolly never get read, so the subject line says it all.
  • by thatguywhoiam ( 524290 ) on Thursday July 27, 2006 @02:02PM (#15792839)
    Once we get past this 1920-film era of video games, I'm sure we'll have some more emo.
  • Re:One Word... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 0racle ( 667029 ) on Thursday July 27, 2006 @02:42PM (#15793220)
    Hate to break it to you, but simply saying it was a FMV in a game doesn't make it not part of the game. The death of Aeris wouldn't have been important at all if you just saw the cutscene so that wasn't what made it sad. It was all the interactions with the character that made you care about her and then you watched as a giant sword ripped through her.
  • Re:Can they? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by muellerr1 ( 868578 ) on Thursday July 27, 2006 @02:47PM (#15793267) Homepage
    If the person holding the camera is that kid's parent, this is unbelievably mean--that kid was clearly traumatized. How messed up do you have to be to do that to your kid? And once you've done it, pass the video around?

    This kind of underscores the link between surprise, fear, and humor. I thought it was pretty funny until the very end. Then I just felt bad for the kid, and kind of angry at the person behind the camera.
  • by modecx ( 130548 ) on Thursday July 27, 2006 @02:52PM (#15793328)
    If you've played Battletoads...

    Motherfucking Battletoads! *weeps*

    (I mean, I beat friggin Ikari Warriors, it's not like I don't have the patience of Job)
  • Re:One Word... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Evanisincontrol ( 830057 ) on Thursday July 27, 2006 @03:09PM (#15793488)
    Half of me wants to agree with you, and the other half wants to disagree.

    Initially, I was on the same train of thought you were on. All the actual in-game interactions develop a sense of connection with the characters, specifically Aeris, who dies, and Cloud, who catches her in his arms when she collapses. Up until this point in the game, you'd played with Cloud as the main character throughout the story (or close to it), and it's almost like you ARE Cloud, watching Aeris die. (stretch your imagination a little, people)

    But on the other hand, how much interaction is there with this game, really? Sure, there's long conversations between the characters, and they go deep into their past... but it's all forced. You don't get to make-up Cloud's past, that he thinks he's a SOLDIER and that he likes Aeris, etc. It's all forced upon you, just as much as the story of any movie is forced upon you. (Exception: You get to "pick" who you're going on a date with in the Golden Saucer. Sort of. Can this be enough to justify a more "connected" feeling with the characters of a game than the characters of a movie? Maybe, in someone's opinion.)

    So what's my point? I don't think I have one, other than to say that I can understand and argue both sides of this debate. In the end, I think it comes down to how much you LET yourself feel like you're part of the world you're playing in. People cry in movies because they let themselves feel like they're in shoes of the person watching their war buddy die, or seeing their true love pass away of cancer, or whatever you cry about when you watch a movie. Just the same, if you feel like you're standing in front of Sephiroth, watching a 7 foot sword stab through a girl you like/love, you are probably more prone to feel emotion than if you think "it's just a game."
  • Re:One Word... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by grumbel ( 592662 ) <> on Thursday July 27, 2006 @03:14PM (#15793541) Homepage
    ### How many times have you cried while actually playing a game

    How often have you cried in an action sequence in a movie? Not so often I would guess. Isn't the nature of those cry-moments in movies that they are all slowly paced and filled with little or no activity and in addition to that don't almost all cry-moments get initiated by some non-hero controlled force (Titanic sinks not due to the actions of any of the protagonist)? And if so, isn't it rather unfair to judge cry-moments in games by their amount of action and player involvment? Of course the player has little to do in those moments for exactly those reasons, that however doesn't mean that playing the game didn't have any influence on those scenes, you have to grow attached to the characters and that just doesn't happen in 30sec cutscene, but if you have fought side by side with those characters for hours and hours things might look different.
  • Two weird answers (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sage Gaspar ( 688563 ) on Thursday July 27, 2006 @03:23PM (#15793648)
    When I was young and stupid, the endings of Illusion of Gaia and Link's Awakening both got me choked up. In my early 20s, I haven't cried at anything in a good long while, but the rare game like Shadow of the Colossus can still resonate with me on the same level as a sad part of a movie or book.
  • Good point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DesireCampbell ( 923687 ) <> on Thursday July 27, 2006 @03:34PM (#15793768) Homepage
    That's a good point. Such an event is emotional because you can't control it. That's why people become angry or sad when such things happen in other mediums. You are sad or angry because it 'happened' and you aren't in the frame of mind to think that it can be changed. In a game, you're always thinking about how to 'win'. If something bad happens (like one of your teammates dies) you aren't as effected by it because you are not 'in' the scene like you would be if it was a movie. You are, in a way, 'outside' the scene as an omnipotent observer with the ability to affect the world. Like a god. You have great power over the game's 'world'. You can try and help the characters, and if it doesn't work you can always try again. In a non-interactive medium you cannot do that. You expect that you're able to find some way out of the level with everyone alive. You expect that you'll be able to 'save the world'. In a non-interactive story, you don't expect that, so you don't think in such a way, but in a game you cannot take such consequences as seriously.

    Perhaps games need to evolve into a more 'all or nothing' mindset. Currently all games are based on the idea that you can restart at any time and try again. Maybe the game that finally causes us to evoke major emotions will be one where you can't just 'try it again'. Maybe 'the next great game' will start you on a quest to save the world, give you teammates that you grow to care about, and not let you get them back when they get killed. Imagine playing a game and getting careless and having one of your teammates killed. The emotional impact could cause you to take the consequences of your actions much more seriously. You will start to think about characters as much more human if they stay dead.

    That said, it doesn't mean it's impossible for a current game to evoke such strong emotions - just harder. I was playing 'Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood' some time ago and had grown attached to my squadmates. In one level we were ambushed and one of my men couldn't get to cover fast enough and screamed out as he was riddled with bullets. My heart stuttered and, for a moment, I froze. It wasn't enough to make me cry, and it was only momentary (I reloaded the level and kept him out of harm's way), but I certainly felt a very strong, very real emotional shock.

    Can a game make you cry? Yes. They can, and they will.
  • Re:Can they? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 27, 2006 @04:02PM (#15794047)
    Agreed, if this was his parents, they have just shit on his trust. This is not a cool thing to do to a developing child. Know why he is continuing to cry well after the event? This is him realizing that the person that is responsible for protecting him, used this trust to humiliate him, to be recorded and passed around to strangers. The scaring thing isn't as big of a deal as the set-up and recording of it.
  • Re:One Word... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by muridae ( 966931 ) on Thursday July 27, 2006 @07:40PM (#15795579)
    I'll make the point then. Games can make people cry if a person can be made to feel the same level of connection to the protagonist in a game that they feel towards the protagonist in a movie. Can a person feel a connection to a bunch of pixels, probably not. Can a person feel a connection to a character represented by a bunch of pixels and whose story is told both graphically and textually on screen? Almost certainly. You could argue that a game is just a novel with the added graphics, or a movie with the ability to add text when needed.

    The scary thing is, saying it that way almost makes it sound like the story is more important then the graphics!

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