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EDIT: The blog is finished now-sorry for the mishap!
Crying can indicate several things; it can indicate unexpected happiness, great distress, depression, or mounted pressure. Regardless of why it is done, crying is usually seen as a form of weakness in our current society, at least in public. Crying as a result of pain or distress is viewed as not being able to handle what life throws at you, and so performing the act in times of stress can cause negative thoughts about yourself and your integrity. Conversely, shedding tears from events like expressions of love, kindness, admiration, or sometimes depression can lead to an overall sense of happiness, or in the last case, signs of care and love. In the realm of video games, we as gamers may cry in similar situations, mainly due to our emotional investment in the story/characters. Personally...I love games that make me cry, and send me into worlds of despair and happiness...because to me, that's the sign of something amazing.
YES IT IS. DON'T HATE.
The title of this blog is not intended to indicate that I love the act of crying itself, nor that I want to be sad all of the time. I mean that in the realm of video games, I'm very much a fan of games that make me become attached to the characters, and then have those characters go in either tragic or happy directions. Of course, I don't want to only play games that fall into this category; I like to have a nice mix. However, overall, the games that I end up enjoying the most are ones that do do this for me, and well me up with tears. Sometimes I expect it to happen, sometimes I don't, but when it does...a game becomes ingrained in my heart. The fact that I have a part of my profile labeled "Games that have made me cry" should tell you I really love games in this sect.
Looking at my top ten list, this fact should be easy to see. Virtue's Last Reward, Persona 4 Golden, The World Ends with You, Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days, Explorers of Time, and Radiant Historia all made me cry when I first played them. I won't spoil any of these games, of course, but I am going to mention things like "the ending was sad", or something along those regards. It won't be "a character dies that I cried about", but well...you get the idea, hopefully. I'm going to try and be as light as I can when discussing these games, but for the most part I'll also try to avoid mentioning them altogether.
Why I cry over games in the first place can result from several different events taking place. The most prevalent and shared basis for crying from a video game is, of course, a character dying. After watching their growth over the course of possibly twenty to sixty hours of game time...well, that's a long time to spend with a person. I have a lot of friends that I see everyday, but most of them I see in only one or two class periods. Those periods last about an hour, and I'm not always conversing directly with one of my friends, so it could be a few weeks for me to actually get the same amount of time with a normal friend as with a character in a sixty-hour game. Although, I'm not going to be with that character every hour of game, nor will those sixty hours be one continuous run. So, I will be interacting with the character in the game about as much as I would with a person I've been friends with for 3-5 weeks. To me, that's a good amount of time to get to know a person, so seeing a person die after that period of time can be devastating, especially if they've been alive in previous games in that series but have only now died.
Deaths can be augmented by how the character dies, the circumstance surrounding the death, and also what happened to them during the game. Seeing a character that struggled to resist succumbing to death unwillingly fall into it, or possibly willingly embrace it, can be powerful. A character sacrificing themselves for another, or possibly even humanity, is a selfish, almost unthinkable act. I know that some people say "oh, I'd die so others could live", but in the heat of the moment, I don't know how many of us would actually be able to rise up and meet that claim. I want to say I would, because I believe that's the right thing to do, but it's entirely possible a selfish part of me would hold me back, even if for a split second. So, seeing a character walk towards their doom willingly...it can really make you question how devoted you are to what you say. Then, there can be questions such as how the person died; did they die alone, and no one knows until the end? Did they take a mortal wound and die in their lover's arms? Even though most of us will not go through experiences such as these (well, it's pretty much guaranteed we will experience tragic loss and death, but not in dramatic moments at least), we will still feel some of what the characters are going through.
Another event that can cause crying is when two characters are separated. To be honest, the first time I remember this happening was when I watched the original Lilo and Stitch...yes, I cried when they were taken away from each other. I wouldn't cry now, I'm pretty sure (I don't think I've seen that moment since my first viewing, to be honest), but the principle of friends being separated has come back in some of my favorite games, and in reality may be one of my main reasons that I "love to cry". I mentioned awhile back in my Persona 4 Golden blog about how I've moved several times in my life, and so I've been separated from some of best friends several times. I've adapted, but each time it was harder to develop new relationships, as well as harder to accept that I couldn't see the old ones anymore. Seeing games that have embraced similar ideas has given me reason to reflect back on my own life, but also create hope within myself that the bonds I've made are still intact. I know that the characters on screen aren't real. I know that. The way I view it, though, is that they were created from human thought, emotions, and design; they are meant to be human, and thus they were built upon ideas that we are accustomed to. That's why we connect with some of the best characters, and hate some of the best villains; they are people we do and do not relate to.
Well, some of them do. Some don't.
There are of course other situations that make us cry, but since I got what I consider the two main ones out of the way, I want to move more into why I like those experiences, as that is the title of this blog. To be honest, I actually don't have a complete, concrete reason why I'm so enamored with these titles. Of course, it is understandable with the second option, but with character deaths...well, that's a bit hard to reason. Why would we as gamers love to see death, something that a lot of us are actually afraid of? Well, as a comparison, let's look at horror movies, and video games. A lot of people like to engage in them because they enjoy being scared. I don't recall where, but somewhere I remember reading about how we enjoy being scared because it fills a psychological gap, or something along those lines. We may get frustrated, or very scared about our loved ones, but not all of us will have life-or-death moments in our lives. Instead, we "get" those moment by watching them on a screen, and thus we become scared. It's actually important to be scared at times, as well as sad, because then you can't appreciate the other end of the spectrum. I guess that's one reason why I like to play sad games; they can help be happier at later times. That may sound odd, but it makes perfect sense.
If you're never sad...how do you expect to ever be happy? Of course, you can stay happy, and experience events that make you happier, but without a balance in "sadness", you'll end up becoming more tolerant to the idea of happiness. Then, you won't appreciate true happiness for what it is actually worth. We see this sort of idea happen in media all the time; there's a rich person, and they have everything they want, and get what do want that they don't have almost immediately. They start off happy, but then become so used to everything going their way that it becomes meaningless.
In the end, I may just love sad games because I'm an emotional person. Many games are able to affect how I'm feeling, but when they get me to think about them all the time, or to cry...well, that just shows how powerful they are as mediums. I've written a lot about those games over the past couple of years, and for good reason; they make my heart ache.
I'd liken to apologize for this blog originally coming up as unfinished...I was almost done about a half hour before this would post, but then I hit dream land. In any case, those are my thoughts that I wanted to share...if you feel similarly, or maybe not, leave some of your thoughts below, as always...