Impactful stories and engaging narratives aren’t exclusive to books, movies, and television, but you knew that. You know that when looking for an emotional experience, video games often offer up some of the best choices money can buy. The requirement for telling a story or invoking a feeling is something the masters of the medium have perfected, and in the modern age more than ever we now see the priority of games shift more often to the story and the message, over the gameplay and the graphics.
It’s this newfound focus on narrative that leads to some supremely emotional experiences. Recent critical darlings like The Last of Us and Gone Home move past what we would describe as the typical video game setup, and instead focus on the message behind it all and the narrative journey that brings us there.
Moving even further, the recent increase in emphasis on graphical style and visual splendor can work it’s own magic to bring out certain feelings in each of us. Playing a game like Journey or Fez is like browsing an art gallery and connecting with certain pieces, the blends of colors and transitions and style makes their own case for emotional feeling.
I bring up Journey in particular since playing through that game was one of the most emotional experiences I’ve had in my entire lengthy gaming career.
Journey tasks the player of guiding a nameless figure to the top of a mountain. A simple enough sounding task, but the Journey (heh) is the point, here. The trials and terrain covered can represent an infinite number of things. With no exposition to get in the way, the task is a simple and metaphorical one. During the game the player is joined seamlessly with another on the same journey, with the same goal in mind. Communication is stripped down to a simple distinctive chirp between the two, the beauty lies in the simplicity.
The combination of an intense graphical canvas in which the game paints amazing pieces, to the immediate and simple connection between two players making their way through a mysterious and intriguing series of events, creates a couple of key bonds. The connection of the player to the avatar, lends itself well to the projection of emotions and expectations, while the connection of player to player adds solidarity to the experience, knowing that you’re not alone in the experience.
Talking about it too much would spoil the experience, so excuse the vague nature of that discussion. In short, the game had left it’s mark on me, and I think about it’s implications often. At the end of it, it had me tearing up, and that doesn’t happen very often. No other game had quite left that emotional mark on me.
So I ask you, the community: What game has gotten you to shed a tear? What left you raw, and how did that game succeed in forming a bond?