The Main character Who Died and Never Came Back to Life

On page 79 Gee compares movies and video games, noting that in video games the character you’re playing as cannot die and stay dead, or else “the game would be over before its ‘ending’”, whereas in a book or movie the character can stay dead, causing considerable sadness or other emotions. However, I’d like to contest the notion that video games are exempt from this.

In perhaps my favorite game of the past decade, the main character is murdered near the end of the main story. Because this is an open world game, which does not “end” per say, the player is now forced to play as the son of the main character. While Gee denies this possibility of the death of a main character, at the same time he expounds upon the importance of projective identities (p.63), and the impact that virtual identities can have on real world identities.

Indeed—I was terribly impacted by this death my virtual identity. Although the son has the exact same in-game abilities as the father, I completely lost the will to play upon the main characters death. It’s not that there was nothing left to do in my game world. There were still side missions I had yet to complete, and the gameplay was the exact same as it had been moments before the death, yet now that I could not adventure as the virtual identity I had shaped through my projective identity, I had no will to play.

However, I do not think that this ruined the game. In fact, I think this was the most brilliant part of the game. Never before had I been so attached to the character I was playing as, and killing off the virtual identity I had helped shape through all my hours of play made me realize that even more so. Up until that death, I had never felt sorrow from playing a game like I had from reading a good book or watching a good film.

This game convinced me that video games are ready to be as deep or rich as film or literature, and that it’s possible to create strong emotional feelings for a virtual character. Moreover, it demonstrates that games CAN annihilate main characters without the game “ending.” And though I was unmotivated to invest myself into a new virtual identity, perhaps other players see this as an opportunity to start fresh and see the world through someone else’s eyes.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Roberto
    Jan 19, 2012 @ 02:56:31

    Which game is this that you talk about?


  2. hamsons
    Jan 19, 2012 @ 23:41:05

    I was conflicted about writing this, because this post is a big spoiler if I say the name of the game. Anyway, here it is following the obligatory spoiler warning:


    Red Dead Redemption


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