Why I cried Playing Mass Effect
By: Frank Cirinna
A lot of people who don’t play video games just can’t understand how sometimes there can be an emotional component. And when done right, its not because you’ve invested hundreds of hours. Sometimes, emotions are sparked through simple conversations, and small actions that the player might not even have control over in the game. For me, the most emotional moment in gaming comes from Mass Effect 3.
In the Mass Effect series, you frequently visit The Citadel, a giant space city, and move around it. During these travels you come across people having conversations and you can listen in. The more you visit them, the farther you see their conversation progress. One of these conversations hit home for me, and gave me a case of “the feels”.
When you check in next the woman is upset at the receptionist for calling her ma’am instead of Theresa, stating that even though her son went off to war before they got married, they are still family. You can hear hesitation in the receptionists voice, the wavering confidence. It’s unsettling.
During the third check-in the woman shows up again, but forgets as to why she is there. The receptionist helps her along her way, with the old woman remarking that the receptionist seems familiar. She mentions again that the receptionist looks like her sons girlfriend.
Upon the fourth visit, the woman once again remarks that the receptionist reminds her of someone, and proceeds to talk about her son who is a solider. At this point the receptionist gives in and asks Theresa if she remembers her at all. The woman gets upset and regards that the receptionist should not do that. The story then comes full circle, repeating the initial dialogue from the first encounter.
The woman, Theresa, is suffering from what appears to be dementia or Alzheimer’s. As someone who both of their grandmothers suffered from similar symptoms, it was heartbreaking to watch this. The woman’s memory is inconsistent, so much to the point where it is vague watching these scenes if the receptionist is even Theresa’s daughter-in-law, or just a very kind lady looking out for this woman.
When first time I encountered this scene, I kept revisiting it, over and over again. I spent a solid 30 minutes watching. In this vast game, with so many characters, the biggest emotional component for me, went with an old woman, and an unnamed character. I was just in awe. It was at this point that I truly realized that videogames are art.
There is something about the stories, encounters, and experiences in videogames that evoke emotions from me that I don’t get from movies, television, or other forms of media and art. The immersion you feel in gaming, the emotions that you go through, are a strong reason as to why I play video games still. They can allow you to experience things that you otherwise couldn’t, but not even on an extreme level, a lot of times, just on a personal level. Spec Ops: The Line is a great example of this, as you end up exploring the mind of a soldier with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
For me, now, gaming is less about the action, and more about what I can gain, experience-wise. What can I learn about politics, people, psychology, or otherwise from gaming that can enhance my life. This tends to be the forward trend in gaming, and I am looking forward to many more emotional moments in gaming. Bring on the tissues.