Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Empathy With Characters


     Games are a lot more intense when you care about what happens. It can make the difference between a chore and an activity. While I'm playing Pokemon Y I'm noticing small details that really make it shine for me. One of those details is the empathy I feel for the monsters I send out to fight for me. They're more interactive than ever and turn your friendship with them into a game mechanic.


     When you bond with your Pokemon (name it, feed it, pet it, level it up, walk with it, etc.) it behaves differently in battle than ones you spend less time with. Textboxes in battle pop up telling you how it feels whether it's excited, focused, wants you to use healing items, scared, in pain, or about to cry. I don't know if it's because I've seen this, but I suddenly care about how my team feels in combat even though it's just a game.


      Pokemon managed to turn this into a game mechanic too. Hurt Pokemon look sadly toward their trainer's bag to let the player know they should probably use a healing item. Pokemon can sometimes endure one-hit K.O.s and cure themselves of paralysis and confusion out of love for their trainer which gives actual power to the story's logic that friendship and care makes Pokemon stronger than ones trained by cold and calculating people.

       Another link to player empathy Pokemon Y makes is with it's memory reading character who reads a monster's mind and tells you how it felt during a particular moment or how it remembers it''s life before and after meeting you. It gives more power to the illusion of a living and breathing world with a few simple sentences that connect to basic human traits.

      Although games that exhibit empathy aren't too rare (Walking Dead will likely have you in tears) but this is just a recent example. I can't believe it took this long for Pokemon to take the friendship & Empathy concept up to this level. Little realistic things like telling how a game character who can't talk feels based on it's actions goes a long way.

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