It has always, and always will be, a topic of discussion amongst gamers and non-gamers: Can videogames make people cry? I’ve always been theoretically supportive of videogames’ ability to make people cry like a school girl with a skinned knee, but last night, my faith was put to the test.
For the first time in about a month, I decided to play a game besides Fallout 3. I’ve had Oblivion for a little over a year now, but I’ve never really gotten into. Because I was so infatuated with its older brother, I decided that I should give Oblivion a try. I had already gotten through the Arena and Shivering Isles questlines, so I decided to start playing in the Dark Brotherhood.
One thing I never really liked about Oblivion was that it had no morality tracking system; I could go on a murdering rampage and still be considered the hero of Kvatch. What the eff? In my mind, there was really no consequence for being a murderous fiend or being a messiah of the people.
I had no idea how wrong I was.
There is a quest in the Dark Brotherhood questline where you have to kill an entire family of people, and you start by getting a freakin’ gift list for the kids from the mother, then killing her. I didn’t care, though. I didn’t get renegade points. My karma didn’t go down. It was just some stupid woman that was thick enough to trust a creepy freak in black leather to deliver gifts to her kids. She got what she had coming to her.
So I went on the quest. I shot the bartender in the back when nobody was looking. Same with the manly daughter who was a guard. The feral one hit first and I murdered all of her pets. I stabbed the drunk to death while he was sleeping. No karma loss, no problem, right? Wrong.
I got over-encumbered when I picked up some stupid axe or something, so I was going through my miscellaneous items, tossing out books, quest notes, and the like. I came across the shopping list for this family of people that I had just murdered. I read it, and it broke my heart. The mother wrote about how the bartender had been brewing ale since he was six. She wrote about how her one daughter went feral and lived with animals, and how she wanted to get fur blankets for the girl because the cave was cold. She defended her daughters decision to get short hair and stop striving to look pretty, calling it "practical."
She loved all of her children, for all of their faults and quirks, she loved them dearly. And I killed them all. For what? In-game money? Achievements? I started crying. Not, "The lady forgot who her husband is in The Notebook!" tears, or "My brother just died!" tears. They were "Oh my God; what have I done?" tears. They rolled out of my eyes and I knew, despite how much money I gave to the peasants, despite how hard I tired to save the Shivering Isles from the Greymarch, my character was an evil, terrible person.
Video games can’t make you cry? Ask the Draconis family how they feel about that.