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GoNintendo Video - A Rebuttal to NPR's piece on Final Fantasy VII & crying from games

A bit of point-counterpoint

NPR recently featured a short discussion about Final Fantasy VII's infamous death scene, which lead to some talk of games stirring up emotion. The quick segment caused quite a few to get upset, so I set out to pick apart what was said and offer a different viewpoint.

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Top Rated Comment
rawmeatcowboy
Tue Jul 23 19 02:49am
Rating: 7 (Updated 1 time)

There's certainly some interesting discussion to be had concerning what you've said. Your strong reactions to those who cry at movies, as well as your refusal to play games with specific character designs, are really interesting to me. I don't have anywhere near the mental capacity to get to the nitty-gritty as to why you feel those ways, but I'd love to hear from those who are better versed in how the mind works.

I'm not saying I'm right for crying at games/movies/TV/ect., nor am I saying I'm right for play games no matter what the visuals. Vice versa, I'm also not saying you're wrong for the ways you feel. It honestly just intrigues me, and I'd love to learn more.

In my regular day-to-day life, I'm not one to cry all the time. My normal struggles and challenges don't bring me to tears, and outside of a family member's death, I can't tell you the last time I welled up or flat-out bawled from a real-life event. I'm not turned off to real-life sadness or anything like that. I just haven't had any moments in recent years outside of deaths that made me cry. There have certainly been moments of frustration and feeling beat down, but nothing to make me bawl.

With entertainment, I'll certainly tear up somewhat frequently. I cried tears of sadness and joy from Avengers: Endgame. I cried during parts of Stranger Things' new season. I was on the verge of tears playing Sky on mobile. There's just something within me that truly moves me when it comes to entertainment. Seeing people craft amazing worlds, characters, and music, and then mixing them all together is the perfect recipe to get me emotional. It has to tug on the right heartstrings, but it does happen.

Reading your comments has made me want to do some research and find out why I have those visceral reactions, and why you don't. I just again want to say that I don't think either is right or wrong. Everyone is wired differently, and we're all just running with the emotions that hit us. I don't know you personally, but I'd say you're not actively preventing yourself from feeling/crying. On the flip side, I don't sit down with the mindset of tearing up.

While your wording was a bit strong, I wanted you to know I appreciate you sharing those details on yourself. Not easy to put yourself out there like that.

Call me a jerk but I kind of feel the same way as her. I don't get why people cry so easily at a lot of things. I also don't really take certain characters seriously due to their designs, like Box Boy or Kirby. I don't care how good the puzzles are, I won't play a game that looks like Box Boy. My loss, I guess.

jd
Tue Jul 23 19 12:13am
Rating: 1 (Updated 1 time)

I don't get why people cry so easily at a lot of things.
Because it's an involuntary reaction?

That doesn't help me get it. I can understand children crying - they're emotionally undeveloped and don't know how else to express themselves. Kids will literally cry at almost anything, even stuff that isn't sad or upsetting. With adults there should be varying degrees of response. I'll cry at the death of a family member, not the death of a fictional character. Sometimes there's a certain amount of feeling but nothing remotely strong enough to elicit tears. I honestly can't help but think there's something wrong with people who bawl during movies. I don't want anyone to feel put down by that - that's just where I'm coming from.

robotface
Tue Jul 23 19 01:20am
Rating: 5

Don't get offended but that sounds like non-criminal, high functioning sociopathy.

Nah, no offense taken because I don't think you understand what a sociopath is.

jayvir
Tue Jul 23 19 10:04am
Rating: 3

Sociopathic behavior is a wide spectrum. Often results in antisocial behavior and a lack of empathy because they can't relate to others. I'd say that falls right in line. And I say that as someone who has been labeled as a person with sociopathic tendencies myself.

Woah friend, if someone's emotional perspective isn't in line with your own, you jump to *that* extreme? Maybe people are different from you? Maybe some people are more thinkers than feelers as Carl Jung asserts. Maybe Saria is a sociopath for all I know, but him/her not crying during movies doesn't make him/her any more a sociopath than those who don't understand why someone gets scared during movies (I know decent people who fall into that category).

To the main topic, I loved FF7 when it came out and did cry during this scene, but RMC do you really forget the zeitgeist of that era? Hate to break it to you guys, but the cinematics in FF7 *were* a selling point! As were the graphics in general (not so much the character models, but the pre-rendered backgrounds). The game itself would not have had the market penetration it did if not for the quality of the CGI and I would argue that, for most people, that scene would not have had as strong of an impact if were done merely with the normal blocky character models of the game. The graphic "realism" of the CGI is one of the major things that separates that FF death from the ones that have come before. *spoilers for earlier FF games* There's a reason more people talk about this death than say Tellah or General Leo, despite the fact that Aerith isn't as well-developed as either of those characters. Generally speaking, the more something looks like you, the easier it is to relate to. Kefka's a far more interesting villain than Sephiroth, and yet it's the advancements in graphical representation that made him the menacing posterboy he's become.

I know RMC now is probably upset by what I just said, considering he is one of the ones whom, it sounds like, maybe did have very strong reactions to those previous deaths in FF, but I'm not sure everyone is as sensitive as you are RMC. And I don't say that disparagingly. As I said above, some are more thinkers than feelers and vice versa (though no one is 100% either way). I did cry as a kid to FF7 and I've cried to many other video games, movies, books, songs, etc. since. That said, I was baffled by Mike Fahey still crying to merely watching the scene again on YouTube. But *maybe it just impacted him even more than it did me, even though I was impacted.* And that's what it seems a lot of this discussion online, in RMC's video, and in even in this comment thread boils down to: "I don't understand why and how others don't think/feel the way I do."

Not getting much from Thomas Was Alone doesn't make you a sociopath, just as feeling sad when a kid trips, scrapes his knee, and cries doesn't make you an emotionally stunted adult.

As a note RMC: she referenced Chocobos and such. I don't know if she's drawing merely from 20+ year old memories, but it seems apparent that she at least occasionally watched her brother play. That said, she obviously never got the full experience of the game from start to death. But that's not important, she got Mike Fahey to say his piece and the point of that episode seemed to be more to strike at the core of why is it that many people feel this sort of instinctual reaction to rescue the damsel even if the damsel is, by Mike Fahey's admittance, one-dimensional. He even admits that Aerith's character would have had to "work harder" if it was an innocent little brother instead (which is really all the springboard the show needed for their discussion). And maybe you didn't agree with Mike when he said that. I know I didn't. Aerith's death impacted me because she represented purity and innocence in a world of decay, and Sephiroth snuffed out that last light. I can't say for sure, but I think I would have felt the same if it was an Aerith-like little brother. So why does Mike still cry over a scene, yet admits it would have been different if Aerith were a boy, yet I *did* cry over that scene 20+ years ago and think I would have felt the same even if Aerith were a boy? Because people are different in how they see the world. But that doesn't make them ignorant or someone to treat as if they are from another planet.

jd
Tue Jul 23 19 01:57am
Rating: 2

Everyone's sensitivity to things is different... I for example will cry over the weirdest little things... why? I don't know... I guess I'm just emotional like that...

Me too! Hearing Now or Never sung by all 4 Splatoon singers made me cry because of the good memories from the series.

rawmeatcowboy
Tue Jul 23 19 02:49am
Rating: 7 (Updated 1 time)

There's certainly some interesting discussion to be had concerning what you've said. Your strong reactions to those who cry at movies, as well as your refusal to play games with specific character designs, are really interesting to me. I don't have anywhere near the mental capacity to get to the nitty-gritty as to why you feel those ways, but I'd love to hear from those who are better versed in how the mind works.

I'm not saying I'm right for crying at games/movies/TV/ect., nor am I saying I'm right for play games no matter what the visuals. Vice versa, I'm also not saying you're wrong for the ways you feel. It honestly just intrigues me, and I'd love to learn more.

In my regular day-to-day life, I'm not one to cry all the time. My normal struggles and challenges don't bring me to tears, and outside of a family member's death, I can't tell you the last time I welled up or flat-out bawled from a real-life event. I'm not turned off to real-life sadness or anything like that. I just haven't had any moments in recent years outside of deaths that made me cry. There have certainly been moments of frustration and feeling beat down, but nothing to make me bawl.

With entertainment, I'll certainly tear up somewhat frequently. I cried tears of sadness and joy from Avengers: Endgame. I cried during parts of Stranger Things' new season. I was on the verge of tears playing Sky on mobile. There's just something within me that truly moves me when it comes to entertainment. Seeing people craft amazing worlds, characters, and music, and then mixing them all together is the perfect recipe to get me emotional. It has to tug on the right heartstrings, but it does happen.

Reading your comments has made me want to do some research and find out why I have those visceral reactions, and why you don't. I just again want to say that I don't think either is right or wrong. Everyone is wired differently, and we're all just running with the emotions that hit us. I don't know you personally, but I'd say you're not actively preventing yourself from feeling/crying. On the flip side, I don't sit down with the mindset of tearing up.

While your wording was a bit strong, I wanted you to know I appreciate you sharing those details on yourself. Not easy to put yourself out there like that.

ridleysaria
Tue Jul 23 19 03:13am
Rating: 1

I appreciate how open minded you are. I knew it would come across as harsh when I said I think people are weird for crying or that something is wrong with them. I know that a lot of people cry so it's not at all unusual. I'm kind of coming from the perceptive of someone from one culture not understanding the behaviors people of another.

I think that, in the end, we are all individuals. And that's what makes humanity fascinating.

aurora unit
Tue Jul 23 19 02:55am
Rating: 3

The key is empathy. Empathy allows us to put ourselves in other people's shoes by simulating their expected feelings in our own brain so we can experience them ourselves and thus understand them better.
People with low levels of empathy only feel for people who are close, while those with high levels of empathy can feel even for complete strangers - and by extension even fictional characters (after all: stories are explicitly designed to elicit feelings from us). And no - there is nothing wrong with people who possess high empathy. They really just do experience those stories far more intensely than those with lower levels.
And nothing of this is supposed to be judgmental or insulting. The levels of empathy are (apparently) defined by the neurological makeup of our brains (there's a brain area associated with it), which differ from person to person. Think of them as different stats on a character sheet. But someone with low levels of empathy has a hard time understanding someone with a high level (to them they're soppy and silly) and vice versa (others are cruel and uncaring).

I think this is interesting. Another thing, I don't laugh out loud nearly as much as other people do. I can think something is hilarious but only laugh a few times, where as others seem to be laughing at everything.

aurora unit
Tue Jul 23 19 03:37am
(Updated 2 times)

Funnily enough, I'm exactly the same. I almost never laugh out loud. But laughing has a strong social function and so it could easily be connected with how we wish to appear to others. In my case it's probably because I've always been an outsider and I don't laugh for fear of laughing at the wrong moment which would expose me as one. I would probably laugh more if I ever found a group of people I felt truly comfortable in - although I've grown so used to to it now I probably wouldn't laugh even if I were truly at ease among others. Luckily, people who like me do understand, and interpret my smile just as they would a laugh.

(Just a minor word of warning: I haven't studied any of those things and am only remembering and assembling bits and pieces I heard and read and came up with myself. So feel free to take everything I say with a huge grain of salt).

totodile
Tue Jul 23 19 03:09am
Rating: 1

You're both normal for "not getting" why some people cry at certain things. It's impossible to relate to because their experience is dictated by the level and balance of neurotransmitters, neural pathways formed from a lifetime of memories, and a host of other biochemical factors that differ wildly from your own, resulting in a completely different experience. It's not a case of being "emotionally undeveloped", but emotionally different.

You don't need to understand why people cry at things that you don't, but just know that they do and that it's completely normal.

She’s sexist and ignorant, plain and simple. I know we have a problem with misogyny, but the opposite exists too as we see here. RMC was focusing too much on the visual portion of her quote, which is basically someone that didn’t play games in the nineties, whether by choice or she wasn’t born yet.

Aeris’ death means a lot because like any good game design, it can be interpreted in more than one way. Replaying FF7 recently on Switch reminded me why I liked Aeris in the first place and it’s because she’s a good person and a powerful character in-game.

Spoilers ahead.

In the early game, she pushes Cloud to do different things and takes the reigns on their early relationship. She’s also the new girl, an outsider, in the group, though fits right in. She takes care of Barrett’s daughter with no hesitation, and plans the rescue of Tifa at the Honeybee Inn. She’s sort of unexpectedly sassy in her text too, which spices her up.

Later in the game, she becomes a plot device on top of her character being an Ancient, one that can feel and heal the Planet, so she becomes a target for Sephiroth who wants to injure the planet with Meteor. She also dies very soon after a potential date with her, where Aeris, Cloud and the player sorta are in one mind of where they are in the relationship.

So I don’t get the one-dimension argument unless you’re not paying attention to the text, and subtext, of the scenes. That happens to people naturally too - I watch dubbed anime because scenes, especially funny ones, don’t sync right in my head when you’re simultaneously reading a subtitle and watching the scene lay out. Perhaps the FF7 remake will fix that, with it using modern production quality.

In game, she’s the best magic user, so she’s the best at using most of the materia, so losing her sort of janks up the party formation and if you invested in her, you sort of lose out of that time investment. If hate to feel I wasted time on a character too if everything I did for her would be for naught.

Plus her death is unexpected if you didn’t know it ahead of time, which is a blow too. Any unexpected death emits a emotional response - shock, sadness, etc; and effective storytelling makes the figurative feel literal.

There's one other factor to her unexpected death: fear. Major characters were usually not killed off in such games, but when FFVII crossed that line people were shocked and afraid that her death might not be the last (and turn into the video game equivalent of Blake's 7)..

Her one-dimensional character argument on the other hand misses one key point: Players didn't know that Aeris would remain that limited in her character. They were expecting her to bloom later in the game as the heroes approached the story climax, learn more about her which would then develop her character in new ways. But all that was cut short by her sudden and unexpected death. So the players did not just lose the character she was but also the character(s) she might have become. And so they mourned all that lost potential.

Humans or fictional characters in games or movies or TV shows or any medium won’t ever induce a tear from me. But animals, especially dogs, will.

I bawled my eyes listening to the audio book of A Dogs Purpose and again watching the movie.

That's interesting, and I think a lot of people are like that, maybe even more people than there are that would cry over human characters. I'm personally the opposite and don't have a lot of empathy for animals (this does not mean I am cruel to them, please don't interpret this the wrong way) and have never cried because of one.

For Humans and Animals, I feel context and experience are equally important.
Best example I can give is Fable 2, the dog is meant to be your best pal, yet does absolutely bloody nothing, so when he is eventually shot and killed, I honestly didn't care, and didn't even consider reviving him with the wish you are granted afterwards.
Meanwhile something as simple as the livestock on your farm in Harvest Moon games, have no story context, but because you have to interact with them, you grow attached to them, and when they die (of sickness or old age) it can be kinda gutting.

Interesting. I do agree that I think more people have more empathy for animals compared to people.

Just a question for you. Do you, or have you in the past, had a pet? More specifically a cat or dog because I feel like you don’t get the same attachment to something like a fish or hamster or similar. It’s purely anecdotal but from my experience people who don’t have much empathy for animals haven’t usually had them as companions at any point in time.

I can explain what I think are my reasons for having way more empathy for animals compared to people. It basically boils down to animals being largely defenceless against everything life throws at them, both in nature and man-made challenges. One moment that hit me very hard was in the Our Planet documentary series and the scenes with walruses - just google “our planet walrus” if you want more on that.

Whereas with people, I find it hard to have empathy because of how so many assholes there seems to be in this world now. I don’t wish bad things on anyone but I also don’t have much empathy for most people outside of my family and friend circles. There’s news daily of X number of people killed or murdered or exiled or homeless etc etc and I don’t bat an eyelid. But one story about a dog being abused or something and I’ll have immediate feelings of empathy for the dog and anger towards those that hurt it.

Oopse that kinda went long Smile

It's definitely not easy to have empathy for most people because I'm pretty cynical, but I can usually separate game characters from that, and if I know someone of course.

I've had 2 family dogs, one of them died about 10 years ago and the other maybe 7. I was very young then and don't remember being upset about either.

enthropy
Tue Jul 23 19 11:27am
Rating: 1

LEt us not forget that we, as individuals, have different experiences in life. I'll just use myself as an example here. I've seen both my parents die in front of me in a young age. My mom dies when I was 13 and my dad when I was 21. And stuff like that changes your life real fast and a LOT. But the worst part of these events are not the deaths in themself, but the funerals, because that's when it truly hits you that it's over. It's farewell. So back then I just had to stop going to funerals (I have lost more than just my parents) because I got flashbacks and I got sad. Those who know me know me and would rather make me take care of their dog or something like that rather then to "invite" me to funerals. So watching a movie with a funeral can give me those flashbacks. But it's so long ago now that it's A OK now, but in my teens it really sucked. But those who haven't witnessed such events wont react. Such is life ;)

Now to the game. First of, I don't think she is a shallow character at all. Though I'll admit I played the game back in 97, so I might have forgotten a lot, but I still remember her well and I liked her. But she was a threat to Sephiroth and he had to get rid of her, but damn was I shocked when it happened. I was seriously just looking at the screen in silence for some time. I think the shock is what got many of us because no one saw that one coming, really.

But the damsel in distress argument? What the flying %(/#&/&%/"&%(/#? Very bad argument and really just pathetic. Go play the game.

Now! FF7R next year. I have my fears for that one, because it just looks too cinematic. The thing with games back in the day was that we could use a lot of our own imagination because, well, them graphics and sounds weren't as good as today (DUUUUH) so we had to "send" our imagination into the games. Now when they have very realistic graphics and VA it can make the game great, but can also break it because that isn't exactly how I (or someone else) imagined the characters. Cloud's and Aeris' faces are just not what I would have imagined. Actually I like her anime like face better. BArret and Tiffa seem close to what I imagined though. And voices? Well... YEah... BArret seems like what I would have guessed, but the rest... Njeee. We'll see. But maybe this is a reason I love Octopath so much. I'll get FF7R for sure when it comes. At least the first episode (TWO BR discs? Sheeesh) and see how I like it then.

P.S: Books can also trigger emotions. I remember my dad back in the day asking what the Hell is wrong with me after just ONE page from The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy (the whale part). I seriously cried ters of joy on that Smile

*Drops mic*

ngamer01
Tue Jul 23 19 12:06pm
(Updated 1 time)

I tend to not get so emotional over games (unless it's salt, hah!), but a key to a well-made story is how to grip them emotionally to motivate them to continue playing (if it's a story-based game).

I've only had two games move me so much to continue playing:
1) Golden Sun: The Lost Age on GBA -- This game while not heartbreaking, at least had an enthralling story that I couldn't just put down because I wanted to see what would become of the world while I adventured. The game actually made me care for the parties of Golden Sun 1 and Lost Age and the fate of the world.

2) Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time/Darkness/Sky (for me Sky) - While it can be said the gameplay isn't anything special, this had one hell of a story that was gripping from start to finish to make me care for the main characters (Sky fleshed out more characters that Time/Darkness didn't get). And there were moments that were completely shocking that I actually was crying at one point.

The following contains spoilers to Explorer's story:

Spoiler

The comments and rebuttals to this post give me a bit more hope for humanity. It's nice to hear more people understand what empathy is and how it makes us human and understanding to others reactions.

Not gonna lie, the saddest I've ever gotten in a game was the end of Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Blue Rescue Team.
When you are dragged back to your own world, your partner crying and calling for you to not go, it friggin' broke me, cried like a baby.

casey
Thu Jul 25 19 12:28am
Rating: 1

We've been having this discussion for...a few 1000 years at this point?

The Greeks called this "katharsis" and used it to refer to people's ability to identify with and experience strong emotions through the arts. And the medium could be anything. Paintings. Statues. Poems. Puppets. Musics. Melodramatic actors wearing paper masks pretending to be men who sleep with their moms. Books. Anything could make an emotional reaction.

Through this process they would be healthfully cleaned of all the pent up personal feelings they were too afraid to express in public around others. The wusses.

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