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Published on August 20th, 2015 | by Jeff Derrickson

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Three for Thursday: Emotional Moments in Gaming

Everyone likes to feel something sometimes and storytellers have always found a way to mess with our emotions. This is no different in gaming and Jeff has come up with three of his most emotional moments in games.

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The Walking Dead

This is such an obvious choice. You saw it coming from a mile away, because that’s what the game is known for. Before Telltale’s groundbreaking adaptation of The Walking Dead, games (for the most part) weren’t known for strong narratives, but this game ushered in a new era where solid writing and fleshed-out characters became a standard for big budget games and smaller, story-driven experiences. It also seemed to revitalize adventure games and carve out a subgenre of games that were all about story and very light on actual gameplay. The final moments between beloved leads Lee and Clementine may have been predictable, but that in no way diminished their impact. Telltale nailed the execution. Grown men, myself included, were reduced to a pile of tears. You have ice water in your veins if you were not moved by the finale.

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Silent Hill 2

So you’re playing this creepy PS2-era horror game, trying to survive and solve puzzles, running into macabre nightmare creatures, all the while having no idea that Silent Hill 2 is the psychologically complex answer to Resident Evil’s dumb zombie virus B-movie horror. You find out the monsters were a projection of the main character’s guilt over the feelings he had about his dying wife. The “Leave” ending I got the first time I played is simply devastating. Sitting next to his wife’s death bed, James reveals that part of him hates her for putting him through this suffering, that he just wants it all to be over so he can move on with his life. She replies by asking him, “If that were true, then why do you look so sad?” What follows is a long letter written and read by his wife, voiced over a static image of a cemetery with no music in the background. She apologizes for what she has put him through and tells him to move on with his life, and it’s all just too much. It’s fucking horrible. The maturity with which Silent Hill 2 approaches death and disease is rarely matched by storytelling in any medium. Silent Hill 2 was way ahead of its time in terms of what topics could be tackled by video games.

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Super Mario Sunshine

This is a personal choice for me, so it won’t make sense specifically to anyone else, but I believe that using games (and entertainment in general) to escape is something that most people can relate to; you just might have a different game that came to you at a specific time in your life when you needed it most. My mother died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 44 on August 4, 2002. My life had been generally carefree up until that point; my parents had provided a great childhood filled with many happy moments. My mother’s death, and the aftermath it unleashed upon my family, was a brutal dose of new reality. Bad things didn’t just happen to other people, and we weren’t going to be okay.

But near the end of that long month, an old friend whom I hadn’t seen in years came back to visit via the last gift my mother ever bought me. Super Mario Sunshine on the Nintendo Gamecube. Some things don’t really change. You can count on Mario. He will always be there; this time, he just might have a Fludd water contraption strapped to his back. I think during most of the time I spent with Sunshine, I was just going through the motions, playing the game because it was something to do. But there were moments where interest crept in, where I found myself engaged and possibly genuinely having fun, even if I was just dicking around exploring the hub world of Isle Delfino.

Super Mario Sunshine taught me an important lesson that I think most people who lose someone eventually learn: it is okay to experience joy, no matter what life throws at you.

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About the Author

is a member of the Perfectly Sane Show and co-host of Movie Dudes. He studied English and mass media at Northeastern Illinois University.



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