Self-explanatory but true. Emotional ending or cut-throat deaths, I have never been able to cry at a video game. Though I got close once…
I mean, is this even a thing?! I remember having a conversation with an old friend who confessed to blubbing through numerous games – Gears of War, Final Fantasy, heck even Zelda once. But still I’m here, dry as a beach sandal when I lose my favourite characters from a TellTale game. Am I broken?!
Does this make me emotionally empty or just a hard arse, I have no idea but apparently this is a thing wrong with me. And it’s here I’m going to beg you to suggest games to me in the comment box to see if we can start my waterworks.
With sadness being one of the easiest emotions to exploit using media (ignoring the ways video games can easily make us snap with anger), you would think topics such as death, loneliness and isolation would make a soft little cinnamon roll like me cry?! I cried when that Baked Alaska melted during 2014’s Great British Bake Off for fucks sake! But let me tell you a little about that time I nearly did. And head’s up the following paragraph are RIDDLED with spoilers…
The game: Red Dead Redemption. My god was that a beautiful ending. So fitting and emotional as you storm the plains back to the family home you’re desperate to protect, only to meet gunfire and what is ultimately your demise. *nearly sobs*
AND THEN THERE’S THE FINAL MISSION GOD DAMMIT. That final stranger side mission, ‘Remember My Family’, was particularly poignant as well as you confront Edgar Ross, the main antagonist and total arse wipe of the game, as Jack Marston. The son of the main character John. Who died. At the hands of that prick. Through sacrifice.
Damn it was so moving!! In no other game have I ever connected with a character as much as John Marston. I played that game endlessly and did every single element of the side missions and collectible crap. He was my everything. So to see his story climax in that way was really heart breaking to me, not only as a woman now in love with a video game character but as a player of a game that just ended so spectacularly well.
Even the good folks at GamesRadar recognised the ending of Red Dead Redemption as something truly out of this world in terms of video games and their progression into narrative art forms. Even Reddit seems to be all over the RDR feels.
Away from the West now and back to the Confession in hand, you can see that even my most emotional encounter in a video game resulted in no tears whatsoever. But what concerns me most, is that I was clearly meant to…
These games aren’t sad accidentally, and it is no surprise to you that the people who make these games will have implemented that distressing part of the story on purpose. They want you to blub, to react, to have a strong emotional response, pretty much so it makes it even more memorable to you as a video game player swamped under millions of other titles. Can I remember every single game I’ve played? No. But do I remember that one game that nearly made me cry? I sure as hell do.
Video games are able to cause such great feelings and emotional reactions from the best of us; rage, happiness, frustration, love, satisfaction, even desire. And yet, intense feelings of pain and hurt apparently don’t translate well to me. I didn’t even get to see the awful ending of Heavy Rain with Ethan wallowing in self-pity because I had played it so well.
Perhaps, for the tears to start streaming the game not only needs to be narratively sad, but has to connect with the player on a way more personal scale. RDR came to me in a time of happiness. I was employed, in an education environment I finally liked, I was in a happy relationship and everything around me was good. So I just WATCHED John Marston’s world crumble around him. It was sad, sure. I had worked so hard to help this character throughout his entire journey. But that was it.
However, I’m 100% confident that if I played that game now, witnessed John’s sacrifice for his wife and child now, and felt it draw comparisons with what it would feel like to give up my life to protect my own daughter… I know I’d be bubbling like a bitch within seconds.
And do you want to know what is the absolute worst thing about this whole ‘no crying situation’? In my quest to find the saddest video game moments of all time, I stupidly stumbled upon hundreds of spoilers and have now possibly ruined any future chance I have of crying at any previously moving titles as I now fucking know the climax. Bollocks.