I was playing This War of Mine when one of my none gaming friends asked me what it was about. As I sat there and explained the game and how the aim is to try to survive through a war as a civilian, making difficult decisions in order to survive one day to the next and waiting untill the war comes to an end their expression turned from curiosity to a mixture of sadness and confusion.
“Aren’t games meant to be fun? Tha just sounds depressing, why play it?” Was their response.
I could see where they were coming from, This War of Mine is based upon the 1992–95 Siege of Sarajevo during the Bosnian War and meant to give the gamer an insight into the side of war most video games don’t show. It’s not meant to be purely entertaining, its meant to give you a taste of what war is like for civilians.
So I found myself attempting to explain to my friend something even I hadn’t thought about untill they raised their question and that is the fact that video games aren’t all fun and games (in the traditional sence of the word anyways).
Video games have come very far as a medium and are now not all colourful graphics, funny stories and lighthearted entertainment. Some have deeper meanings like This War of Mine or That Dragon Cancer.
In my opinion this is a good thing, video games are just like movies and books coming in a variety of genres and created for many different reasons. Some make you laugh, some make you cry others are action packed and others story driven. The variety of games is what makes them so accessible and the power of games to trigger strong emotional responses is far stronger than in other forms of entertainment.
Life is Strange, The Walking Dead, and The Last of Us (to name a few) are far more that simple games they have deep stories that create strong emotional ties with their characters (case in point who doesn’t love Clem?) Non gamers may not see this but the experience of playing a video game is so much more than just a fun thing to pass the time.
I will always remember playing Life is Strange, I got to the end that final decision I could see coming my way and got a bit emotional (I’m not ashamed to say). The mix of all that Max had been through coming to nothing, the emotion in their voices, the music in the background it all came together in just the right way to tug at the heart-strings. It wasn’t amusing but it was exactly what it needed to be for the story it was telling.
What was the most emotional game you have ever played?