This article is based on that very question. More specifically it asks about gaming and whether it can bring a sense of emotion to the person playing.
I suppose that things like work, commuting and other things that truly fail to bring emotion to our lives are those which we find most bland. Games that make you feel nothing, not even anger, are probably the least successful.
The feeling of heroism, the obsession of most 14-year-old boys, is the basis of most games. […] In videogames, we often fight the bad guys and feel good about it. Whatever our critics may say, I think that’s worthy.
Unsurprisingly the results of a survey upon which the article is based shows Final Fantasy to be one of the most emotive games that gamers have experienced. Who can fail to have felt some sort of emotion at the end of Final Fantasy VII’s first CD? Or, for the more hardcore amongst you, how about when Palom and Porom sacrificed themselves in Final Fantasy II/IV?
The list of most affecting videogames from the article says plenty about what a crucial element emotion can be in making your game a success: Final Fantasy, Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, Halo, Silent Hill. Those are some heavyweight names.
Of course, you can apply a chicken and egg scenario to this. What about the smaller, less ‘popular with the casuals’ style games? Ico certainly makes the grade!
It’s clear that games that make you feel something are the ones you remember and are the ones that make their mark. Most recently for me, God of War made me feel something in games that I’ve not felt that many times since I first started playing. That of the sheer visceral thrill of power and literally feeling superhuman. The cunningness of the design in that this was a fallen character that you didn’t feel you cared for juxtaposed the fact that, as the gamer, it was your job to see him succeed in his quest. The gaming anti-hero.
Games haven’t made me cry. I’ve been elated, confused, angered, exhilerated, scared and determined by them though. I guess it’s that kind of emotional connection with a game that I always seek. Games that make that connection with me are the ones that elevate themselves above the normal and stand out.
Whilst writing this I’m trying to think of any ‘quick fix’, simple, shallow games that make that essential connection for me. Even the eternal Tetris doesn’t really offer that for me which is why I would probably play it less than any RPG I own even though my limited free time would lend itself far better to shifting abstract blocks than completing quests.
As the article indicates, Walt Disney wondered if animation could make an emotional connection with it’s audience. I think that, in the better animations, there is no question that it does. Today’s society will readily admit to that. In many respects, I think gaming finds itself being asked the same question today. I hope that in the future everyone will realise that it does – and not just in bad ways.