It seems like years now that pundits and bloggers have batted around the video-game cocktail party question, “Can video games make you cry?”. Meant as a measure of maturity for the medium, the question considers whether gamers can become as emotionally invested in their characters as other mediums like books and movies.
Tonight, I found out that, yes, video games can certainly make you cry. Before you fear that I’m going to cop to a Mike Schmidt moment here (or a Brett Favre moment, for those of you young enough to have missed Schmidt going to pieces announcing his retirement), it wasn’t me. I didn’t get all emotional finishing off an end-game raid boss, or finally winning a roll for a purple drop. It was my daughter.
She plays My Sims on her DS Lite, and today animals started showing up in town. Deer, dogs, a bunny and two cats. She fell in love with one of the cats and was trying to convince it to become her pet. She spent a lot of time running back and forth, trying to discover a way to make friends with it. Alas, it was not to be. It wasn’t the cat that rejected her, it was the DS. I was on the phone with my father when the trouble started. She gave me a look like someone had just killed her real life cat. But no, it wasn’t anything like that. The DS locked up, and all her progress for the evening was lost. When she had to reset the DS to get it playing again, she was restored back to a point before the wildlife had appeared in her town.
It wasn’t pretty. We all take our games seriously. I’ve lost entire evenings of Civilization to computer crashes, when I’ve been so engrossed that I forgot to save. I’m sure y’all have some horror stories about crashes, glitches, corrupted saved games, and the like. At eight years old, though, it’s pretty traumatic. I told her that all she lost was time, but that’s not really correct. In her world, she lost the magic of the moment, and that’s a lot more important than time. Sure, you can go back and replay the game to the point the animals show up again, but an evening of gaming was ruined. Ahh, lost innocence stinks. Hopefully the animals will show up again soon. I’m not going to let her stay up late playing the DS under her covers to find out, though; she’ll have to wait until tomorrow
Off to read! It’s time for bedtime stories.