In the world of video games, the end doesn’t always justify the means


Although some may refuse to believe this statement to be true, games have indeed matured since the days of their orchestration. Initially beginning as nothing more than experiences which required the gamer to run and gun their way from the start of a level to its conclusion, additional storylines, character development and in-depth background of locations, scenarios and occurrences have modified gaming into an experience which can easily rival the enjoyment ascertained from reading and watching films.

As the title of this piece suggests, my belief, and a factor of gaming that I especially enjoy, is as follows; although a game may more often than not require a gamer to potentially blast their way from one side of the game to the next, the ending does not necessarily have to end with such violence; nor does the game as a whole.

Nowadays, a majority of games have cinematics and other such occurrences which separate one action sequence from the next which adds depth to the fictitious piece as a whole. In an RPG, this happens more often than not when in comparison with a shooter, a great comparative example being that of the Halo franchise and the Mass Effect series; both are entrenched with an amazing character driven narrative which immerses the player in futuristic alien environments against vile, antagonistic opponents who seek the destruction of humanity. Shrouded with other themes, the likes of friendship, family, love, betrayal, redemption and revenge, these games offer the player a gratifying experience that is worth experiencing again and again.

On that note, if a game has being leading the player through a substantially powerful storyline amidst the many action sequences, the conclusion could no doubt carry the same weight. The days when an ending to a game was simply a mix of explosions, mixed with the demise of the end boss is indeed still apparent, but more is conveyed during the moments that follow on from this particular occurrence, and it is that which I am aiming to discuss.

When I am playing a game and find myself at its conclusion, more often than not I would like to experience an ending which is incredibly emotional; a simpler way would be to say a real tear jerker.

The first time I finished a game which ended in much the same way I have described above the year was 2003, and the title of the game was Unreal II The Awakening. Since that time, it has again happened in regards to titles the likes of Bioshock and its sequel Bioshock 2, Halo Reach, Halo 4 and Mass Effect 3 (especially when played with the Extended Cut DLC).

Adjunctively Gears of War 2 and 3 moved me emotionally, but these moments occurred during the games rather than at their conclusions.

If a game has already proved itself capable of delivering unto the player an experience that is consistent with the kind of powerful storyline you would expect from a genuine blockbuster at the cinema, then an emotionally charged ending is no doubt an inevitability by the game’s end.

Of course, the stereotypical feature only runs for a period no less than two hours, where as the shortest stereotypical game one is likely to experience today will go for approximately three times that amount. So, if I am going to immerse myself into a fictitious world for that amount of time, then I would very much like for the ending to be as passionately powerful as the overall experience from start to finish was for me.

I can only speak for myself, but I very much enjoy being fully immersed into the world of a video game to such an extent that I will genuinely feel something; I will become sad if a protagonist who I had befriended and fought beside dies; I will smile if the vile antagonist who caused such pain and suffering is defeated by game’s end; I will feel contempt at the evocative nature of any relationship that I manage to instigate between my character and a possible paramour.

With that said, certain readers may find it interesting that I would rather be brought to tears by the ending of a specific title, rather than find an epic amount of explosions dazzling across the screen before the credits gradually start rolling. True, I don’t believe that people in general enjoy crying, but that rule does not apply in my opinion when you are viewing fictitious content. To be moved in any which way; to tears; to fits of hysterical laughter; to glances of awe, is not always possible with every title, no matter the content, and to become emotionally distraught by a tragic ending is not something to be horrified at, but something to be ecstatic with.

If a feature has moved the viewer in the way that the writers, director and developers originally intended, then they have successfully achieved that which they had set out to do. If I had not being moved to tears by the game’s ending then that would have being an issue for I would not be acquiring the experience that I had paid for. Game’s in general often cost three times the amount of a film, and to be moved by the conclusion is well worth the one hundred odd dollars that the campaign was valued at.

In conclusion, I would very much like for more game’s to have an emotionally charged ending after playing through the campaign, or, like the Mass Effect series, build up on that possible ending through a franchise. After all, if I am going to be fully immersed into the world of a video game, I would genuinely appreciate the ability to be moved by an ending that has being developed by people as passionate for the game as I am, rather than end on the stereotypical explosive scenario that many game’s to this day conclude upon.

To be moved to tears by a game’s ending is not something that people should look down upon; it simply means that the player is human. As a species, humans are more often than not affected emotionally when something tragic happens. All I ask is that this in-depth feeling of humanity is written into the game’s that I play.

Thank you for reading.

If you have any comments on what I have written, or opinions of your own in regards to the subject matter, please, feel free to discuss them in the comments section below.

6 comments on “In the world of video games, the end doesn’t always justify the means

  1. My boyfriend plays video games, and sometimes will share information with me about the storyline as he gets to the end. It makes a lot of sense to me- it seems great to take part in a story like that! I think if I had started playing when I was younger with those complicated games, I would have gotten very interested in it. Instead, I was very bad at Mario, and never continued after that 🙂

    • Thanks for the comment. Many women I know are unable to comprehend any aspect of a video game, from the storyline to the general development of the product and I’m glad you can understand the kind of enjoyment one could acquire from becoming immersed in such an experience. As for Mario – well, if it was the 90s version you were having a crack at then that’s understandable – I remember my character being killed by a walking banana of some description in one of those levels. However I’m glad to say that games have matured since then. Again, thanks for the comment.

      • “Journey”? No, I have not heard of that game – sorry. Then again, I’m more into First Person Shooters (like Halo and COD) and Role Playing Games (the likes of the Elder Scrolls and Mass Effect) so unless “Journey” fits into one of those categories that could be why I haven’t heard of it. Then again I do live in Australia and some games tend to take longer to be released here than anywhere else.
        One thing I have noticed is that gaming often seems to be more of a masculine form of entertainment, and I believe (personal opinion) due to such emphasis that might be one of the reasons why some women do not become involved in such a pastime. Also, many gaming protagonists are male, which may seem borderline sexist to some women who would rather step into the shoes of a heroine, and adjunctively on occasion women are depicted in games as not wearing much clothing, which could again, further the sexist vibe which may unfortunately be concocted by the gaming environment.
        If you do decide to play “Journey” however I do hope you enjoy it. Thank you for your comment!

      • Yeah! Have you heard of Borderlands? I told my boyfriend your preferences and he said you probably wouldn’t like Journey (It’s wordless and you just sort of make things up and dance around with glowing seems quite feminine as games go, I will play it sometime!) and he said you might like Borderlands. We’ve been playing some Mortal Combat together and the females definitely wear pretty much no clothing, but I see it like archetypes and not as harmful sexism, even though I’m sure some feminists would argue with me. Okay enough video game talk for now!

      • I agree that strong feminist ideals may indeed depict the dress code that women often frequent in video games as sexually deviant, however in general the clothing, as you indeed point out, can be viewed as nothing more than harmless additional characteristics of one’s fictitious physicality.
        In regards to Borderlands, yes I agree that it is a not half bad experience. The comic style graphics do on occasion annoy me due to my general preference with regards to graphical realism. However, the frequent action oriented atmosphere and the additional (occasional) humorous ideologies conveyed in the recently released sequel do add depth to the overall entertaining experience and the frequent plot twists do leave the player engaged from beginning to end – although the longevity of said experience might (if a gamer is similar to me) deliver mild boredom from the repetitive surroundings.
        Thanks again for your comment.

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