Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Is it Possible to Be Emotionally Invested in Video Games?

What game or game series have you most been emotionally invested in?

...This was a question put to gamers by Inside Xbox for their Tuesday Tweetbate some few weeks ago. (You can follow all of the debates on twitter: @IXNTweetbate.)

This question stumped me and I found it hard to narrow down to 140 characters. I immediately wanted to say The Legend of Zelda but the question isn't about influence as a gamer - it's about emotional investment. Something quite different which I find harder to quantify.

If you class fear as an emotion then it's Silent Hill or Resident Evil hands down! I used to play them during the day only (with the curtains drawn of course) because I was so creeped out by them both. Yet, part of me feels like this doesn't count especially as they are 3rd person and surely only a first person game perspective can be emotionally investing? However, there are few FPSs that aren't just mindless "shoot the bad guys down" kill fests.

RPGs are perhaps the best place to find emotional investment as they allow me to become involved. I can be fully immersed in a character because I create it in my own image, I mould it to become like me or in some cases sculpt it how I'd like to be. The Fallout games are a perfect example, the karma element makes me feel guilt for certain actions just as they would in real life but then the setting is post-apocalyptic; meaning that the rules regarding morality will have altered. If I envisage a world like this, then I know I wouldn't feel guilty for stealing bottle of water because I needed to survive in the harsh Wastelands. And all those finance clipboards and pre-war outfits...well, they could come in handy one day...maybe.

Perhaps the fact I'm thinking about it in this much detail and can't narrow it down to simple tweet suggests that all games I play possess a fraction of emotional investment and so no singular series outweighs the other. But then, I don't think I play games to be emotionally invested in them in the first place, I play them for the escapism and the immersion. For the storyline, the entertainment, multiplayer capacity and most importantly, enjoyment.

Perhaps there's no way to quantify what emotional investment is within the realms of video games (especially with new technology like Kinect), or perhaps a degree in philosophy has somewhat ruined my ability to answer a question in a straightforward manner! Either way, I love video games and I'll play them, whether I'm emotionally invested or not!

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