Quantcast
Promoted blog: Gimme some emotion - Destructoid

DestructoidJapanatorTomopopFlixist



Promoted blog: Gimme some emotion


9:00 PM on 11.30.2012
Promoted blog: Gimme some emotion photo



[Dtoid community blogger GlowBear shares some examples of emotion done right -- and how easy it is to get it wrong -- in videogames. Want to see your own words appear on the front page? Go write something! --Mr Andy Dixon]

A mood killer can come in many forms. It can be a sudden, abrupt noise thrashing through a quiet, solitary moment. A seemingly silent-but-deadly fart that incapacitates a gathering of people during a somber moment. Or an intense or emotional scene can be completely void of any substance due to something as simple as delivery. 

When it comes to films and games, the delivery of a line or action that should evoke sadness, joy, shock, and the like depends primarily on two things: the performance of the actor and the material they are given to work with by the writers.

Games are becoming much more interactive and cinematic in the experiences they offer. They're no longer linear in terms of story or gameplay, and narratives are weaved that cover a broad scope in terms of genres. We have games stocked with humor and comedy in Portal and Ace Attorney, disturbing horror from Silent Hill and FEAR, emotional epic rollercoasters like Final Fantasy and Mass Effect, paranormal intrigue paired with the classic murder mystery in titles like Fahrenheit, and then quaint ambiguous walks amongst a silent yet living world in Dear Esther.


Excluding some genres of course. 

Many games need more than good gameplay and descriptive scenery writing to execute actual realism and good storytelling. Emotion is a powerful driving force in reality and a vital part of storytelling. How scenes and dialogue are written and then executed orally can make or break an entire adventure in some cases. Likewise, Limbo is a good example of a game where the art style alone can really hammer home the feeling of dread and loneliness. Simplicity can often be a more obvious method of emotional expression. 

Humor is subjective, but there are ways of pleasing a majority or at least not coming across as lazy and just desperate. Games like Phoenix Wright may have very little voice acting, but what they do have is quite passionate and funny in that regard. The shout of "OBJECTION" is one that’s repeated outside of the game by fans and is a staple of the series. And the dry, sarcastic tone of voice used by Ellen McLain in the Portal series is now famous and loved. If you’re going to play a psychotic, sarcastic robot, then you gotta talk the talk, and McLain’s deadpan execution speckled with apt moments of actual human emotion is one of the reasons people love GLaDOS so much.

Horror won't work if simple attributions like fear aren't coming through via the voice actors. A character can meander around a spooky, foggy graveyard, and every time something eerie pops up just scream a generic "rarrgh" and keep on moving. But that’s not going to leave a lasting impression of genuine fear, and worse, won’t have had any buildup to help drive home the atmosphere.

Buildup and the causing of anticipation in the viewer or gamer is a key element in effectively provoking a fright or tingle of goose bumps. Change in breathing, talking to one's self, erratic noises, hesitance -- these traits can introduce so much more alongside the aesthetic atmosphere of horror games. 

Fahrenheit was a game that wasn't horror-centered and yet had paranormal and bizarre elements embedded throughout. It also produced the standard, well-known and loved feel of a moody detective story. Confusion, anger, fear, and even the sound of unwavering reassurance that things were black and white, came across excellently due to the voice acting and writing of that game. The art direction also really gave life to a game that really deserved the work it got and the underrated praise it received. 


Good, emotive phone sex needn't be bland and done standing up. In this area, Fahrenheit is teaching a bad lesson. 

Like or loathe it, Dear Esther is a game where very little happens. All you really do is walk around, and it's easy to dismiss as not being a worthy, story-driven game (or a game at all). Yet due to the tone used by the narrator, the sound effects that contribute highly to the atmosphere, and the exceptional writing, Dear Esther may have been a boring game in terms of play, but it is certainly not one lacking in emotion.

As consumers get fussier -- rightly or wrongly -- more effort in general is needed to produce stellar, story-driven games. Emotions aren't a sissy thing; they’re not a gender-exclusive trait and they aren't limited in description or occasion. There are hundreds of ways to express sorrow and joy, fear and indifference. Games that have the means in terms of technology for character model expressions, writers who really care about their worlds, and voice actors who treat games with the same respect they would a job where their faces were seen can produce amazing works that reach and reverberate with gamers and the whirlwind of emotions we feel on a daily basis.

Unless those emotions are ones of sexual yearnings for dramatic emo pigeon boyfriends. Then you’re on your own.






Comments not appearing? Anti-virus apps like Avast or some browser extensions can cause this.
Easy fix: Add   [*].disqus.com   to your software's white list. Tada! Happy comments time again.

Did you know? You can now get daily or weekly email notifications when humans reply to your comments.






Promoted stories

6:00 PM on 04.14.2014
Old Dtoid Story Time: Destructoid Cards

[Dtoid community blogger Char Aznable takes us on a journey to 2008 when something unique and wonderful happened on Destructoid. Stay awhile and listen! --Occams Electric Toothbrush] Gather 'round, young Dtoiders, and sit on ...more



6:00 PM on 04.02.2014
Titanfall tips: Sneaky robot tricks

[Dtoid community blogger Wrenchfarm shares some tips from his first few weeks with Titanfall. Want to see your own blog appear on our front page? Go write something! --Mr Andy Dixon] I've been playing a LOT of Titanfall over ...more



7:00 PM on 03.15.2014
Trico and trust: The high risk of high hopes

[Dtoid community blogger Everyday Legend is an optimist at heart. Want to see your own blog appear on our front page? Go write something! --Mr Andy Dixon] There's a saying my father always verbally drilled into my skull: "If ...more



View all Promoted stories






Back to Top




All content is yours to recycle through our Creative Commons License permitting non-commercial sharing requiring attribution. Our communities are obsessed with videoGames, movies, anime, and toys.

Living the dream since March 16, 2006

Advertising on destructoid is available: Please contact them to learn more