2012, The Year of Emotional Investment in Gaming

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As much as I love gaming, it’s never been able to elicit a reaction from me other than “I am having fun”. True, most games aren’t designed to be tear-jerkers, but 2012 seems to have bucked this trend and has had a collection of titles that has made me feel something other than elation for my polygonal avatar.

2012 started off strong with Journey, Thatgamecompany’s moving study of companionship and triumph. The end of that game is really well crafted and pulls you and your unknown companion together to overcome the nigh-insurmountable odds you’re facing. I never really thought that co-op, especially co-op with someone I didn’t know, would get to me, but Journey proved me wrong.

That’s not to say that Journey is alone in this, however. Spec Ops: The Line, The Walking Dead and Halo 4 have all given me some pretty hardcore feels. With Spec Ops and The Walking Dead I kind of expected it, seeing as how that was what the talk around those two games was centered on, but actually caring about Chief and Cortana’s story in Halo 4 really surprised me.

Cortana has always been, ironically, the human element of the Halo games, but seeing Master Chief’s resolve falter for just a moment made me remember that, underneath the armor and the genetic conditioning and the implied mental defects, there a real person there. 343 did an excellent job turning the Chief into a sympathetic character, something that the Bungie Halos never really touched on.

Overall I was quite surprised with the narative turnout in 2012. I don’t have high hopes for games, but these four titles really surprised me with their emotional depth. Do you agree that 2012 is a banner year for this? What other games have gotten to you in this way?

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mitch@gamersushi.com Twitter: @mi7ch Gamertag: Lubeius PSN ID: Lubeius SteamID: Lube182 Origin/EA:Lube182 Currently Playing: Stardew Valley, Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam, Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords, Battlefield 4, Tom Clancy Double Feature: Rainbow Six Siege and The Division

4 thoughts on “2012, The Year of Emotional Investment in Gaming”

  1. Assassins Creed 3 all of it but especially the homestead missions, seeing how the characters on and off the homestead interact with each other especially the one featuring the seamstress. Also Black Ops 2 there are some really intense emotional parts to the game especially some of the outcome parts. As for Halo 4 I think everyone should read human weakness by Karen Traviss from halo revolutions trust me it will put Cortana’s story in Halo 4 in a new light.

  2. I know it’s a few months late, but Mass Effect 3 is really what has been the defining moment for me, when it comes to the emotional aspect of 2012 gaming.

    Sure, I haven’t beaten 1, and haven’t touched 2 yet, but even still, playing through 3, I still feel some sort of connection. I think it’s those intimate moments you have with your crew that really tie things in for me. Especially a few of those spoiler moments.

    Halo 4 also did a good job, though that’s something else I haven’t completed, and Assassins Creed III is on my back burner until I complete the current batch of games I’ve started.

  3. Although I haven’t played Journey, all of the other games you mentioned (and in addition Mass Effect 3 for sure) I’ve felt major feels during my playthrough of them. I like it, and I hope we see more of it in the future.

  4. Walking. Dead.

    Guys, seriously, if you haven’t played this game, it’s probably the game of the year in terms of what it demanded from me emotionally. I can’t remember the last time a game made me feel true horror over one of my decisions, and the awful trudge towards some choices I didn’t want to have to make.

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