Is the emotional content of videogames underrated?

For several years there has been that lingering question, “when will videogames make us cry?” and while I think that is a totally loaded question second only to “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?” the ability of videogames to create emotional reactions in the players is something that a lot of people are concerned about. However, I have been wondering later if videogames are already causing players to feel emotions. Besides feelings of pride, joy, and frustration which we feel while playing, there is also the emotional attachment that we feel long after we have finished playing the game.

I haven’t played a Thief game since the last one came out in 2004 but I still have a strong attachment to those games and the character of Garrett. People have tons of Mario merchandise. Lara Croft was a huge phenomenon. While playing GTA: San Andreas I was pissed when the game forced me to detour away from the relationship between the main character and his friends when you were forced to flee from the city. I wanted to interact with them more, not go off and learn to fly a plane or deal with the running of a casino.

Why else would the new game consoles have the ability to play old games? Why else would I still have my Atari? It is the emotional attachment to the games and the experiences we had playing them. While these aren’t the same kind of emotions that we experience when watching some movie about someone dying of cancer just when they find the love of their life but it sticks with you and you feel attached to the game and the characters.

Those are emotions of a different kind. Just because games aren’t very good at making us cry doesn’t mean that they can’t make us feel something.

Leave a comment