'A Game Has Never Made You Cry'

Chris Bateman (of Only a Game) has a thought provoking article on his new, games only blog on whether or not a game has ever made you cry.

The contention here isn't that people have never cried while playing games, but either that it's an irrelevant question or that it wasn't the actual game part that made you cry — it was the narrative elements, which are not exclusive to games. I'm not at all convinced I agree with his argument entirely, but it's an interesting proposition:

This is the nub of the issue here: a story can make you cry by empathising with the protagonist (or another character), but a game (when viewed as a formal system) cannot do this. It follows that the only way that a videogame can make you cry is by using narrative tools that have nothing to do with games as formal systems whatsoever. So even though, for instance, many people report that they cried when they played Final Fantasy VII at the fateful scene (and indeed, several other cRPGs also show up in player studies as having provoked tears) the moment that actually brought the player to tears was a non-interactive cut scene. It wasn't the game (in the systems view) that made them cry - it was the story - and there never was a question as to whether stories could make you cry.

As usual with these types of articles, the comments are just as interesting as the article. As Bateman notes in the comments section, he intentionally pushed the 'games as play' and 'games as systems' arguments to their most extreme ends, hoping it 'would make for more lively debate.'

A Game Has Never Made You Cry [ihobo]


    If a character dramatically dies due to failing a boss battle or making poor dialogue decisions makes you cry. I'd say that is when you can finally say a game has made you cry.

    So by his logic, a film can't make you cry either. Neither can a book, or any other medium, if we accept his suggestion that it's the narrative on its own that makes you cry. I'm not saying I don't see the logic - I understand his point and to an extent I agree - but I think it's a bit shallow to suggest such a divide between the narrative and the medium it's presented in.

    I remember this one part in the game Prey that made me shed a tear or two...
    ***Spoilers ahead***
    After Tommy finally finds and reaches his Girlfriend Jen, He finds out that she has also been transformed into a half machine and he had to fight her to the death.

    I remember feeling very sad at that scene...

    Dude... Ico, totally... 'nuff said.

    BS !! I cried tears of joy when I first played GTA4 !!

    i can think of two times a game made me cry, aeris dying in ff7 which is the most common cry scene amongst gamers and also the wedding in the ending of metal gear solid 4

    An interactive scene that brought a tear to my eye was the return to Shadow Moses in Metal Gear Solid 4, walking up and seeing the heliport, and the music starts playing?
    Not sure if that counts as story or game play, but, it was god-damned beautiful.

    I definitely cried when my dog died in Fable II. I almost cried when I finished Dragon Age Origins. But that was mostly because it was over and I wanted to keep playing forever.

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