Tears Through Technology

24832705776_d661250727_oThe Notebook is notorious for making grown men weep, the ending to Titanic ensures a flood of tissues and countless other movies have spurred emotions through their story, but can you name any game that has produced this same reaction or at least has been acclaimed for it?

After watching the Kara demo by Quantic Dream, the producers behind the hit game Heavy Rain, I thought about games that had an emotional impact. For me, the stories told through RPG’s such as Final Fantasy or Mass Effect are stories that resonant with any player regardless of age, gender or socioeconomic background. These games play to a common human need and value whether its the quest for validation, love, friendship or overall survival.

What this demo does in seven minutes is so much more than many movies are unable to achieve in 70. Through Kara’s smiling quirks, curious eyes and sudden tears, the new android displays a thirst and a desire for life that rivals any human’s. I’m invested in this new character who was just born before my eyes, showed her personality through a smile and only a few seconds later almost loses her life because she does not fit the protocol. Extrapolate this theme to a broader audience and anyone can identify with not only a hunger to survive but a need to fit the protocol. But like the engineer who let her live, doesn’t protocol break down? And through that break down create something new?

Kara has more than 400,000 views on YouTube and praises heaped from fans like MildInconvenience who writes, “This is easily one of the most emotionally powerful videos I’ve seen in recent years.” Obviously CGI technology has been able to provide movie makers with new images and fascinating new methods for story telling (Avatar anyone?), but no game has been acknowledge for its use of CGI to craft a story and provoke an emotional response. As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, what is needed is a new awareness of games’ emotional power. Why else would we be drawn to these games and willing to fork over hundreds of dollars for them?

Like any book or television series we’re hooked on, games tell a story that pulls the viewer into that world and in the case of this demo, does so in only seven minutes. I want to see how Kara lives, how she thrives and overall if she survives social protocol.

Could this demo provide movie makers and game makers alike a new avenue for storytelling? It’s starting with films like Avatar and Hugo but it’s not anywhere near where it should be by now. In a few years, when critics and audiences alike finally get over the idea of games as toys CGI be taken seriously and given the credit and the emotion it deserves.

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