Reality Check - Why Do We Care About Fictional Characters?

Ever felt moved by the plight of a video game character and wondered why? Cam investigates in this weeks Reality Check.

Discussion

364 comments
stevezul
stevezul

Just watched this episode and it is brilliant! 


Well for me, the character that I really feel attached is James Sunderland from Silent Hill 2. Not to be exaggerate, i think he's the best game character I ever played because he's so human and normal. A normal guy who just lost his wife, went to the creepy/weird town and facing out of logic things...he didnt even know how to roll/swing/attack properly. And his emotions and thinking is very average too, he made mistakes (a lot), no super tough and resolute mentality that oftenly displayed by nowadays protagonist (COD series for example). The scene where I really feel for him was when he saw Maria was killed by the pyramid head again for the...4th,5th time. And the absolute nail was when he realized that his wife was indeed put to rest by him, not death by sickness. 


Ok enough, too long already. Damn I really miss the old Silent Hill series.

Zoravar1991ind
Zoravar1991ind

Snake & Ocelot. Only played Snake Eater... Yes only tht one, when I was 16. Obviously for me..if I played it today.. 22 here, I would not nearly enjoy it as much as I did (hauntingly), when I was at tht age. :->

ttouroboros
ttouroboros

for me Snake is still the best character in video game.

deadhero04
deadhero04

im obsessed with Dannte and Prince of Persia >.< 

BorgMind00
BorgMind00

So many for some many different reasons. Aeris from FFVII. I felt something when she died. Chief (Halo series), Cortana (felt something when she went, she was with us after all for so many games). All the Assassin (Assassin Creed series), they're just the ultimate bad-asses. Too much to mention.

arqe
arqe

i was about to cry when "Something Happened" to the Sev ( Star Wars - Republic Commando ). And i still dont know what happened back there.

bdous
bdous

One of the few video game characters that i actually felt sad about him is John Martson

vduong942
vduong942

pretty much the vsauce of gaming

Fastkill10
Fastkill10

my favorites caracters are elie and joel from The Last of Us and Jodie from Beyond : Two souls

101reasons
101reasons

Nice work Cam. I'm a little surprised there was no mention of Sound. Sound would make a difference to 'Loving' something, whether it's a voice, a sound effect or music, sound helps convey emotion and connect you to the game experience. I'll watch your episode on loving game music after commenting.

Inlex
Inlex

Great episode. The fact that inevitable events can destroy characters for you, is something I can really relate to...genually branched stories made such a difference for video games

KrizardXV
KrizardXV

As much as I enjoy played Beyond Two Soul, Heavy Rain and The Last of Us nothing beat Shepard from ME3.  Mass Effect end long time ago, but until today I still somehow think about Shepard, most probably same reason as why I care so much about Harry Potter characters... I basically grow up with them.

Wensea10
Wensea10

Fictional characters are definitely worth worrying about, especially if they remind you about real people.

simon1812
simon1812

yeah I can get a little obsessed with characters in videogames too, I could be all day naming the characters I cared or didnt care.

jthunder2525
jthunder2525

Great vid Cam! Definitely ME3, although I was making the decisions in that case. Heavy Rain, Bioshock 1 and Infinite, but the first character that I cared about was probably Raynor in the orginal Starcraft, such a great game!  

BelaidKL
BelaidKL

The most recent game in which I really felt for a character was Booker, from Bioshock Infinite... Didn't realise how much until a few days after completion

Mhaedros
Mhaedros

Ezio in Assassin's Creed 2 to Revelations. The best character I've ever stumbled upon. 

euphoric666
euphoric666

Why do we waste our time with reality check? They should do an reality check about reality check.

therock343
therock343

Joel from The Last of Us. I felt like shit whenever I couldn't defend Ellie, and died in the game. Also that I killed the doctors, not for fun, but out of rage.

MJoanne
MJoanne

The first video game character I really cared about was Bastilla Shan in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.  I was playing in the morning before work and something happened to that character right before I had to stop to go to work.  All day, I felt like telling people "Don't you understand?  Something happened to Bastilla Shan!"

requul1
requul1

Dood, Cam!  you nailed this week's episode.  I swear to god I still haven't played ME 3 because I am so attached to Shepard after ME 2 that I don't want to finish the series.  The idea of not sharing adventures with Shepard and Smurfette anymore really scares me.

Reality Check is a freaking awesome show.  Lets do an episode on why we're all in love with Jess McDonell next.

PlatinumPaladin
PlatinumPaladin

I like that this article harkens back to similar themes as the Reality Check on why we're obsessed with zombies. I feel like I'm actually learning something. Thanks once again, Cam.

I think I'd have to say the moment with Joel's daughter at the start of The Last of Us impacted me the most. Not five minutes into the game and I was close to tears. Then of course there was Agro from Shadow of The Colossus, and perhaps surprisingly Ghost and Roach from Modern Warfare 2. That actually made me feel a little unsettled, but that may have as much to do with the overarching situation as much as the characters.

skipper1993
skipper1993

I don't care how sad this sounds, but dad in Fallout 3 was a closer father to me than my real father. My connection was pretty deep to that character.

nameaprice
nameaprice

very interesting, but stupid. haha jk good show :P

RS13
RS13

I am so sick of that assassin's creed advertisement... 

andrescapo_
andrescapo_

I think the realistic graphics thing is complete bullshit, I have cared about characters in anime (they are drawings, so, pretty different from realitiy) and others that aren't even human-looking.

I think that as long as a character is someone relatable, we are able to care about him or her. If you make a character that is perfect in every way, never makes mistakes, never hesitates and so on, no one will be able to relate to him.

abuelsharif
abuelsharif

Can't believe nobody mentioned Ezio Auditore from Assasin's creed !!!!!

nyran125tk
nyran125tk

finally a psychologist talking positively about game creation instead of trying to convince us they are evil and make kids go out and cause anarchy.

I have more empathy for characters that im with that die. Lilke for example X-COm, if a soldier ive created, named and is out in the field with me dies, im devastated. One because I start forming a relationship with that fictional character because of all the mission we go on together, 2 because I now know his capabilities and how useful he is in the field and once he's dead I know i'll have to train someone new in the field that's going to be a rookie. the original X-Com is amazing. If you have to put time into the characters your with, I tend to start warming to them more.

Also characters that are generally helpful in games I warm to also. Like in Fallout 3 trying to find the radio broadcaster, I did actually feel a semi relationship with the radio announcer, because it just seemed so damn important to find him and the amount of REAL work involved getting to him. Actually I cared about the DOG to.

0m39AX
0m39AX

I once cared about Ryo Hazuki.

Falzonn
Falzonn

I rarely have any sort of emotional connection to any video game character.  Most of the time I only care for a characters well-being if I get something out of it, ie: having someone powerful and useful die off in combat.  I only care at a meta level.  There are a few times where I do feel a bit of emotion for someone, albeit usually only a little bit; such as Mordin Solus in ME3, and a few moments in the somewhat solemn Lost Odyssey.  For the most part though, I find few games give me enough time, depth, or detail to character development for me to ever get attached to anyone, not even the more character history driven BioWare games.  That said, I do tend to empathize more with children or animals.  It must awaken the parental/protector/likes cute things part of me.

01_855403
01_855403

The character which/whom i got attached to most is Tidus from FFX.

Andrendenum1
Andrendenum1

I think it's the same in books.  The story drives it.  If the protagonist is an average joe forced into a situation where they are forced into survival and the storyline and plot develops in a way that makes us feel a connection then we can almost relate to that person.

That said, when I think back on games that I grew up on (Zelda, Quest for Glory, etc.), for me, there is a certain nostalgia and connection that I really love.   It makes me both empathetic and optimistic about how that game will unfold and develop over time, ultimately resulting (by the end) in whether I enjoyed the game, say, compared to the previous of that game.   I do the same for books in a series.   I really liked the Terry Brooks Shannara series growing up, I really could relate to the characters in each book and the lineage of it.  However, somewhere along the lines, the family tree and the importance placed on the history of that lineage (for me) fell off and I was left feeling that those characters (and family) that I watched grow up and change, kind of left me feeling disjuncted.

I see video games in a similar way.  Most current video games just don't have this connection story anymore, and the ones that do, do it for 1 or 2 games and then fail to really deliver that real connection to the characters that they once had.   It's an evolution that becomes not fulfilling but rather just to make a game.

The overcoming of human strife against overwhelming and impossible odds (with great story telling and character development, and story emersion) really makes for a great connection.   The legacy of games that can do that do (if history is any measure) seems to drop off quite soon.   It happens in books as well. Maybe just not as often as game franchises.

Flamewolf75
Flamewolf75

Kinda disappointed that you didn't mention Mass Effect. Great show nonetheless. 

Primeyuri
Primeyuri

same reason why we care for other animals.

Berkut4796
Berkut4796

Good episode Cam, I'm enjoying the use of interviews and guest speakers in the show. 

I think that 'contingency', as it is called here, can have an important impact on generating 'care' towards a video game character. However, I don't believe it is entirely necessary to generate emotional attachment to fictional beings.

An example for me would be the metal gear solid universe. One has almost no capacity to alter elements of the story through one's actions. Yet some individuals, such as myself, generated extensive attachments to many of the characters, both protagonists and antagonists. I was 'internally' very emotional throughout many of the story points in the conclusion to Solid Snake's story. Particular situations, such as the ones towards the end of the game with Naomi, Otacon, Ocelot, and especially Snake, made me very emotional.

Despite having no ability to alter the story, I deeply cared about the characters in the Metal Gear series. This suggests to me that, even without 'contingency' aspect, a game that builds characters with believable emotions, goals, ideologies, and perspectives can succeed at causing us to care about what happens to them.

joedin2056
joedin2056

Joel and Ellie from the last of us at my number one spot followed my Clem and Lee from the walking dead and in third place all of the crew in mass effect

keith_bucks
keith_bucks

I felt emotional at MAss effect... especially the Ending of Mass EFFECT 3...

Skaloman
Skaloman

I felt really emotional at Halo 4 for Cortana and Chief, as well as Shepard for mass effect trilogy.

lostn
lostn

@therock343 I wouldn't say it was out of rage. It was because he cared too much about Ellie that he wasn't willing to give her up and let her be sacrificed. She became the daughter he lost, and the one that completed him. 

_Binx_
_Binx_

@Berkut4796 I agree, and this also extends to other mediums like movies and books where you have zero impact on the story, but can still very much care about the characters.