I’ve decided to do some posts on what I call unexpected moments of empathy in games I don’t mean moments where the game is intentional trying to produce a moment of empathy with the character in the game. I’m talking more moments where the game come together in a way that makes you feel a sense of empathy or understanding towards people out in the real world. Especially those moments where the mechanics come together to accomplish this in unexpected ways, even ways not intended by the designers. So on to my first example:
Now this is a prefect example of what I mean by an unexpected moment of empathy. The game is just a fun little rogue-like hack-and-slash. It is in no way trying to get me to think about my fellow human beings, yet it did. For those of you that don’t know you play as a line of people in the same family trying to overcome a dungeon, each character you create is randomly generated with random traits some positive, some negative, some neutral. For example, you can have someone who is nearside (negative trait which makes the edges of the screen blurry) and gay (neutral only changes the gender of your lover at the end screen). It was playing as one such nearsighted character for the first time that I had my unexpected moment of empathy.
Those moments playing as a nearsighted character where painful and I lost extremely quickly. I am nearsighted myself but I never think of it because I have always been able to pay for my prescriptions. But at that moment I stopped and wondered how it must be for those that can’t afford proper eye care. To have what for me was a few moments of bad game playing be something they have to struggle with daily. It made me appreciate the glass I have on my head that I so take often for granted in a new light. This silly little game made me think about other suffering without even trying. From then on, I took a moment to think on things like this as I looked over the traits of my randomly selected adventures.
P.S. I’d also like to point out that due to its random nature it allows you to play as a non-abled body person and have them be the hero. Something very rare in games and is another cool yet unintentional results of the game’s mechanics.
That was my unexpected moment of empathy, since I believe moments like this really highlights the potential of game as a medium, I’d love to hear over people stories about similar experience playing games.