Just crying: Why I love sad games

Just crying: Why I love sad games

Just crying

I started Rime a few years ago with the assumption that a nicely made, but rather forgettable Ico clone would await me here.

Well, the inspiration, I was right about it. But when I sat there after the credits, emotionally completely dissolved, as did my friend who had been watching, I quickly crossed the "forgettable" off my list. We hardly talked that evening, we both went to bed, lost in our own thoughts.

I loved what I had just experienced. And I knew that I would never, ever touch this game again.

I don't know if a lot of other people felt like that, at least I haven't talked to anyone else, the rime as perhaps the saddest game of all time sees. In any case, it ignited completely for me.

Table of contents

1 Less is more 2 Everything has been there before? 3 The many types of mourning 4 Projection surface 5 Noticeably better playable 6 What you get out of it In general, however, games are usually much more able to grab me emotionally than films, for example. Yes, there, too, I empathize with the characters, think into them. But when I had the controller in my hands and cheered my heroines, sometimes for hours and hours, how the oppressive finale came about, then that is a completely different level of immersion.

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Shut down presentation, little or no speech output, a reduced graphic style, but that is much more likely for me Lacrimal glands are activated than in the very big dramas.

Less is more

Just to cry: Why I like it when games make me sad (3) Source: PC Games At least with that I will probably not be alone, because it is probably no coincidence that the indie market in particular has mastered the game of grief so masterfully: Thomas Was Alone, Limbo, To the Moon, Celeste, The Last Day of June, What Remains of Edith Finch, This War of Mine, to make only a very, very small selection here.

This is of course also a prejudice, because large productions can of course also create great, emotional moments, but the nuances, yes, the small teams can do that then often better.

Has everything been there before?

Just howling: Why I like it when games make me sad (8) Source: Games Aktuell It's no secret that a huge budget in the back of creativity is not always conducive to the portrayal of sadness that's also true. It does not always have to be death, it does not always have to be possible to name a clear trigger; Grief, depression, it works on so many levels.

I always find it strange when people complain that too many (indie) games deal with the topic of depression. Well, at a time when mental health problems are a worse pandemic than the visible pandemic that is still sweeping over us, this discussion of the subject shouldn't come as a surprise at first. Art has always lived from giving form to people's fears and problems, sometimes less obvious than in the monster film boom after the first nuclear weapons tests, sometimes a little more clearly.

The many types of grief

Just crying: Why I like it when games make me sad (12) Source: PC Games Second: Hardly any other topic allows as many different editing options as grief, so many facets that can be put into focus. To the Moon is (among other things) about transience, just like Last Day of June, The Last of Us and What Remains of Edith Finch - a topic and hardly anyone would assume too many parallels between the games.

And with the best of them this interpretation is only a partial aspect, because they work on so many emotional levels.

Projection surface

Just howling: Why I like it when I play games make you sad (2) Source: Tequila Works As mentioned, this complexity works - at least for me - usually better the less resources are used to represent it, perhaps precisely because it allows so much room for interpretation. Without dialogues, with a few clear instructions as to how I should feel now, I find my own grief, which I can then compare much more easily with my own emotional world: I project what concerns me, my own problems and reasons for sadness onto them Events in the game, and then suddenly it is easier to identify myself with a colorful square like in Thomas Was Alone than with a fully developed, human figure in which I can count the pores on the skin.

Noticeably better playable

Just howling: Why I like it when games make me sad (1) Source: Sony Because of this, because of this enormous projection range, paired with the interactivity that takes me to my emotional climax it works better with games than with films. This can best be compared to a novel, where the created world in my head goes far beyond the written word and I (hopefully) have been on a similarly emotional journey.

But why do I want that at all? Why do I want to be sad?

What you get out of it

Well, first of all, nobody can blame people for being overly rational, and like the thrill of a horror movie gives up, also wants to activate the lacrimal gland every now and then.

And for me it is simply the case that the best, the most memorable stories are those that are not only presented in an exciting, great way or whatever found, but those who have touched you; who have given you something. The best games of this kind help you understand yourself better, better deal with the grief that preoccupies you; a modern form of catharsis, if you like.

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Not the most worthless insight a video game can take.

About the author

Howling: Why I like it, when games make me sad (10) Source: Lukas Schmid Lukas Schmid has been working in various functions at Computec Media and thus at PC Games since 2010, first as an intern, then as a freelancer, then as a volunteer, editor and now as chief editor for pcgames .de, videogameszone.de, gamesaktuell.de and gamezone.de. He loves action, adventure, action adventures, shooters, jump & runs, horror and role-playing games, you can hunt him with strategy titles, most rogue likes and military simulations. Every Saturday at around 9 a.m. he tells you in his column what is annoying or happy about him. Hate comments and love letters are welcome in the comments under the column, to [email protected] or on Twitter to @Schmid_Luki.

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