The Crying Game

“You can’t put emotion into games. Games are just code, they just sit there – the emotion is in the player”

Huh…well this is interesting! The words were uttered by Margaret Robertson, Editor of Edge Magazine at the Edinburgh Interactive Entertainment Festival.

She had an interesting observation on the Final Fantasy issue (you know…the ‘games that make you cry’ issue). In Ren Reynolds‘ Gamasutra write up of her talk:

“The popular theory about why Final Fantasy is emotionally engaging, Robertson explained, is that it’s because of the story, but she added: “No one can ever remember what the story was”. What people do remember are individual characters and the impact their stories have on us as players. An example of this is the character of Vivi, who experiences an emotional rollercoaster near the end of the game.
With Vivi, “…you always had the sense that something tragic was about to happen” Robertson said, but it is important to understand the events in the context of played experience. When we are hit with the revelations about the character the player has probably been with the game for 20 hours or so, usually spread over weeks. In this case, Robertson said ‘it’s not emotional sophistication, it’s attrition’.”

She provides some fabulous examples of emotions and games, even where they seem unlikely, such as Ouendan – and does a fairly convincing argument that “One thing that is often overlooked is that making someone cry can be a mechanical process”.