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StaceyPowers

Best ways to get gamers to connect emotionally with characters?

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In a different thread, some of us (sorry, forgot who, can’t find it right now) were talking about Ellie in TLOU, and how easy it is to bond with her emotionally through Joel. I was theorizing that this may be one of the reasons why even gamers who aren’t all that keen on LGBTQA+ portrayals often give Ellie a kind of “pass” (not universally, to be sure, but if they make an exception for one game, TLOU is usually it).

You learn to care deeply about Ellie because you feel protective of her. By experiencing Joel’s emotional journey, it is easy to think of her as your own daughter when you are playing, or to want her to be your daughter, just as Joel eventually does.

I think this worked really well to build empathy and emotional connection in BioShock Infinite too. Elizabeth definitely can take care of herself, but you still feel protective of her, and you build that same father-daughter bond with her.

While building those bonds, as the gamer, you also learn to relate closely to Joel and Booker in those games as well.

So, I would suggest that the parental bond in a video game between the player character and another character seems to be a great way to build an emotional connection in the gamer.

As an unrelated example, another thing I have noticed helps me bond emotionally with a character is when there is some small, personal detail written into them with which I can interact in a way that helps them.

Like, in Dragon Age: Origins, there is a part where Morrigan tells you a sad story from her childhood involving a mirror. Later, there is a mirror in a shop, and if you buy it for her, she’ll be surprised and delighted, and it feels like you have helped heal an old wound. You get the feeling you are the only friend she’s ever had, and at that point, at least for me, I was very attached.

Now I am wondering if anyone else has made any observations in this area. Are there are relationships, situations, or so on which you have noticed do a great job helping you emotionally connect with the character you are playing or an NPC you are interacting with?

 

 

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I’ve never been welcome in any crowd. Always rejected, before I even say my name. So I get attached to the group on FF8. It starts with a loner who isn’t interested in playing around and is all about getting the job done. Then slowly, after working with the other 5 characters they all end up becoming as close as blood. They end up remembering childhood things that they had all forgotten that brings them even closer still. Since I never had an actual family, and literally never once had a friend, I get attached to them. I feel like I’m part of the group when I play the game.

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13 hours ago, The Blackangel said:

I’ve never been welcome in any crowd. Always rejected, before I even say my name. So I get attached to the group on FF8. It starts with a loner who isn’t interested in playing around and is all about getting the job done. Then slowly, after working with the other 5 characters they all end up becoming as close as blood. They end up remembering childhood things that they had all forgotten that brings them even closer still. Since I never had an actual family, and literally never once had a friend, I get attached to them. I feel like I’m part of the group when I play the game.

A family dynamic is compelling for me as well, and part of why I think I always get so attached to my followers in Dragon Age.

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