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4 Times Things Got A Bit Too Real In Videogames

4 Times Things Got A Bit Too Real In Videogames

Videogames are great at making us feel emotions, but sometimes they are so great at making us feel emotions, things get a little bit awkward. The cornerstone of any great narrative is relatable themes and scenarios, but they can often be portrayed a little bit too realistically. This is a fairly obvious statement but it will saved me getting moaned at by the internet. *MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD*

1.Ellie & David - The Last Of Us

The Last Of Us is one of my favourite games ever; rarely has a game gripped me so much. I was emotionally invested in each and every character, and felt as if I was there experiencing post-apocalyptic America with Joel and Ellie. The Last Of Us plays out like a HBO Boxset, with its narrative range easily rivaling the likes of The Walking Dead and Game Of Thrones. There are lots of poignant moments in The Last Of Us, the game rarely gives you a break to get over the previous emotional beating, before throwing you straight back into a pit of tears.

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There is one moment towards the end of the game in which Ellie has been kidnapped by a nasty piece of work called David. Joel has to travel through this town to find poor Ellie, who has been reduced to nothing more than a child stuck in a cage; a stark contrast to the badass young teen we usually see. Players switch between the two as the tensions builds, before the segment ends in a fiery confrontation between Ellie and David. While a fight between a teenager and an adult is always going to be tense, things take a turn for the worse when David ends up on top of Ellie. David then implies that he is capable of pretty nasty things, essentially dropping a rape threat on her. Ellie grabs a machete and proceeds to turn his face into mush.

I’d been playing The Last Of Us for a reasonably long time, so this was pretty much the point at which I couldn’t take anymore of an emotional battering. I had a self-appointed holiday from the game, giving my emotions a well needed rest. Watching the clip on Youtube with no prior build up is still a hard watch. Not for the emotionally weak.

2. That Racist Bit - Bioshock Infinite

Bioshock Infinite is a great game, it took the best parts of the previous two and put them together in the all new city of Columbia. A floating paradise akin to early twentieth century America where religion, segregation and xenophobia are commonplace. This is mostly due to the ultranationalism displayed by the leader of Columbia, Zachary Hale Comstock. As soon as Booker Dewitt arrives in Columbia there is instantly a weird vibe, the city looks like something out of a weird propaganda video created by Donald Trump.

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After a little bit of exploring, Booker stumbles upon a stage show. All the people on stage are white, everyone in the crowd is also white. There is an uneasy feeling about the proceedings but you aren’t quite able to put your finger on it. Booker is beckoned up the stage and is picked to choose a ball from a basket. Of course, Booker wins; we’re in a videogame after all. This is when things go awkward, the kind of awkward that is similar to an elderly relative saying something incredibly racist at the dinner table. This is when the “Negro Wedding Raffle” takes place, you’ve probably figured out where this is going by now. An interracial couple are wheeled out on stage while an announcer encourages the crowd the shout abuse, inviting you to throw the first ball. The first time I played Bioshock Infinite and experienced this segment I was utterly shocked, gobsmacked even. It’s just a shame that Irrational Games never explored the issue of racism more, instead using it as a quick and cheap shock mechanic; giving players an instant enemy to hate, because racism is bad and you should dislike racist people.

3. White Phosphorus - Spec Ops: The Line

Spec Ops: The Line is a game that stands out as one of the most politically themed experiences of last gen. It challenged the first person genre and basically gave it a kick up the arse. Instead of glorifying murder like other games at the time, Spec Ops took a more introspective approach; exploring the effects that war and conflict has on those caught in it. Clearly inspired by the classic Apocalypse Now, Spec Ops: The Line similarly plays on the hypocrisy of western imperialism. Centering around a squad of Walker, Adams and Lugo, the game follows their journey through the city of Dubai where they must reprimand a rogue squadron called the 33rd. Things gradually get worse as the mission progresses with the team slowly starting to resent each other.


Things take an even worse turn as the team pulls up to a heavily guarded base full of 33rd members, and instead of finding a safer less aggressive route around the camp, Walker decided it would be best to attack using a white phosphorous mortar. For those not in the know, white phosphorous is bad. So bad, that there are countless legal disputes over the use of it, and what situations constitute deployment of the it. Walker attacks the base with a whole load of it, they acknowledge that it’s not an ideal situation, but it was a kill or be killed in their minds. While exploring the base, a burned and dying man asks them “Why?” before pointing towards a crevice, and what the squad finds next is un-imaginable. The 33rd camp was actually filled with soldiers harbouring civilians, normal people that were then burned to death. Needless to say things are a little bit awkward with Lugo and Adams arguing over who is at fault here. The game does a neat little bit where one of the characters points towards the character and proclaims “You did this”.

I felt like a terrible person.

4. Kenny - Telltale’s The Walking Dead

This one is a little bit more recent so I will once again give you that big old SPOILER WARNING notice so you can’t moan at me. Telltale are masters at character development, creating varied and emotionally relatable characters in every release; The Walking Dead series is no different. Those who have played through the game would likely assume that I have picked the death of Lee at the end of Season 1, and while that ending did make me cry grown man tears, the ending of Season 2 got to me a lot more. Season 2 revolves around players taking control of Clementine, it follows her progression towards becoming an adult and generally learning how to look after herself. Early game, Clementine spends her time with a new crowd of people. This was initially pretty hard to deal with given my prior attachment to Lee. As soon as I started figuring out who I liked and disliked among the new group, Clementine by chance runs into Kenny. Kenny was a character that I initially disliked, but Telltale are great at introducing characters that come across very negatively. Once the character develops and you have more interaction with them, it becomes easier to see why they act in the manner they do. Seeing Kenny was probably one of the happiest moments I had during the game, providing a little bit of relief from an otherwise emotionally draining narrative.

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He is pretty well considering the rough time he had during the first season, watching both his son and wife die. This is a new Kenny though, he is with a new group of people and he also has a new lady friend. It wouldn’t be Telltale if they didn’t shit on everyone’s happiness though. Kenny’s new lady friend dies and he essentially plummets into depression. This is where the game gets very real as you are essentially given a front row seat to someone going through a severe mental breakdown. This eventually culminates in Kenny completely losing his mind, where you as the player are forced to shoot him. You’ve had to watch Kenny go through a lot, and to be there when it all eventually got too much was pretty traumatic. Props to Telltale for basing the narrative around mental health issues, I cried a lot.

So there you have it, four times that things got a little bit too real in videogames. While these moments are of course incredibly sad, it just goes to show that narratives with relatable and realistic storylines create endearing characters that we love.

P.S Roll on Season 3 of The Walking Dead. I need more Clementine in my life.

Thomas Hughes

Thomas Hughes

Staff Writer

I like to play games, find me writing about how yer da hates season passes

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