Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Feels (Gamer Edition)

6:07 AM

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There are moments when you read a novel or watch a TV series or movie, and you stumble upon that one defining moment where things start to go downhill rather quickly, with no sign of a happy ending in sight. You try to live in denial, maybe telling yourself that a character will probably live and that everything will be alright, but the cold reality will eventually kick in.

Having “the feels” is something everyone usually experiences once they attach themselves to a story. Sometimes these attachments can become painful once the character they cared for has met an untimely death (either by natural or human causes) or has committed a noble sacrifice in order to save the lives of the others – just to name a few scenarios. Sometimes, the feels don’t even have to revolve around a person. Even the death of an animal can be just as heart-wrenching. As viewers or readers, our powerlessness gives the story more depth, and leaving us very emotional and teary-eyed. Pop culture is filled with so many of these moments: the lyrics of a song you play, the movies or TV shows you watch, and the books you read – all of them have their own defining feels moments.

It may be a strange idea to some, but video games are also capable of moments like this. Through the combination of music, dialogue, and storyline, video games can also hit you pretty hard with the feels. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s what makes video games an unconventional source of heartbreaking moments… and actual tears.

With the school term over and a week’s worth of rest and relaxation on the horizon, I decided to play some new games on my P.C. to make the break worth it. It was rather hard to compose myself after playing them: they were just that sad. These two games impacted me the most with the feels. To anyone else who is willing to the play these games to the end: bring tissue.

The Walking Dead by Telltale Games

Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead brings you to a world that has been ravaged by the living dead, with survivors facing threats not only from said dead, but also from their own kind. The game centers on the (difficult, sometimes morally ambiguous) choices you, as Lee Everett, a history professor pre-apocalypse, make in-game and the way the story adapts to them. What makes the game more dramatic is the time limit before making decisions. All the choices look like the correct answer at first, but each has its consequences, resulting in scenes where I just wanted to shout “NO!!” or “WHY DID I DO THAT?!?” at the computer screen and stop playing.

As you continue, you wind up with a young girl named Clementine whose parents went on a trip just as things spiraled out of control – and with an 8-year old’s life in their hands, a lot of players have try to protect her at all costs. I was no exception, running headlong into rash decisions that would lead to game over.

I cherished my time with Clementine until the bitter end. In-game, she acts as the moral compass, questioning my decisions and leaving me to question why I have committed them in the first place. Like when I and my group stumbled upon a station wagon in the forest filled with important supplies – the obvious choice for some players is to grab it, but then Clementine will ask about would happen if the owners of the car come back with their supplies stolen.

This is just one of the many scenarios that affected me throughout the emotional rollercoaster called The Walking Dead, packed with unpredictable twists and turns that can catch players off guard and can make attachments to certain characters to be quite… consequential. By the time I was finished, it felt like someone was cutting onions (at 3 A.M.) in my bedroom.

Defining Feels Moment: The last few moments of Chapter 5… this part left many players in tears.

To The Moon by Freebird Games
This very powerful game is all about the feels… from the beginning, all the way to the bittersweet ending that left me feeling like a punching bag: exhausted (emotionally) rather empty inside.

Despite its rather childish graphics, To The Moon has captured the hearts (and tears) of players through its captivating storyline and its rather somber soundtrack that adds atmosphere to different scenes ranging from comedic moments to sad flashbacks.

The story talks about a dying old man named Johnny, whose last wish in life is to go to the moon – and yet he doesn’t know why. Sounds weird right?

Well, in the game, I controlled one of the two scientists who have the technology to make that dream come true… sort of. This technology allows them to access his memories and go all the way back to his childhood and (as seen in-game) make artificial memories so that Johnny, in a sense, thinks that it actually happened.

In order to go deeper, I had to find mementos related to Johnny and solve a puzzle in order to continue. What makes it interesting is that as I continued into his memories, I began to see the events that unfolded tragically in front of me, and finally gave an explanation as to what happens earlier in the game, and with the rather melancholic piano playing in the background as icing on the cake.

It’s a game worth playing in your spare time and without any regrets.

Defining Feels Moment: The whole game. As well as the beautiful piano pieces, particularly “Everything’s Alright.”

In the end, playing video games is just like reading a book or watching a movie. Once we flip a page or press a button, we are already pulled into a new world and become a part of an experience. We see the joys, pains, and struggles each character faces and let that become a part of our own lives, and we sympathize with them all the way. As ridiculous as it sounds… crying when playing a video game is okay, even making it all the more enjoyable.

As a gamer, it’s perfectly normal to feel such emotions because it will make you want to play more and see the rest of the story – and that’s what makes the journey worthwhile.

Article by Daniel
Art by Mika
Daniel’s a university sophomore with a degree in Literature who wants to continuously improve his craft. He pursues the dream of becoming a lawyer among other things… as well as a video game writer. He also enjoys playing the guitar and piano with more experience on the latter and plans to master them one day. With a “do-or-die” attitude, he is on a constant journey towards self-discovery. A gamer at heart, he enjoys playing video games whenever the opportunity opens itself; right now he’s enjoying League of Legends.

An avid dreamer, Mika is a fairly eccentric girl with a penchant for the poignant, who spends her days either contemplating the infinite wonders of the great beyond or what to eat for dinner. A professional shower-singer, she lives in the world of her headphones and watercolor, all while her heart does the foxtrot among the stars. If she were a fruit, she would most probably be a banana.


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