For those of you who have spent a fair amount of time caught in The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones series, you are surely no stranger to characters dying, plot twists and gut wrenching season finales. One thing you may have failed to notice however, is the immunity you may have developed to these sad, SAD events. As the mid-season premier for The Walking Dead reached its conclusion I thought to myself, “I feel nothing”.
Could it be that we simply don’t care enough about the characters who die off to feel any angst? Or are we simply so trusting in the artistic direction of these tales that we detach from it emotionally and leave it up to the writers? The answer to both of these questions is yes; we are detached and trusting. If you don’t believe me, play a Telltale game.
As soon as I started Telltale’s The Walking Dead, I immediately felt a sense of unease. The way the game prompts its players to make important, quick decisions had me feeling extremely anxious and I eventually dropped The Walking Dead because of it. I began to notice that I enjoyed watching characters make these tough decisions rather than make them myself. I suddenly felt like Rick Grimes, a leader tasked with keeping others alive —and I hated it.
As a player who is heavily involved in deep, story driven narratives, having to choose between which characters died and which alliances to keep was almost too much to handle. The heavy politics and passive aggressive banter in Game of Thrones was the Telltale game that helped illuminate that fact for me. After my first encounter with Cersei Lannister I felt enraged. I replayed that scene six different times to get the approvals I needed, but no matter what choice I made, I broke an alliance on either side. As a result, I ended up making the choice that I thought would bring me closer to the character that I needed a favor from and I still did not receive the outcome I desired. So my thinking brought me to this question; why put myself through that agony?
The game that took away some of that plot bearing, heavy weight off my shoulders was Telltale’s The Wolf Among Us. Combining both aspects of comedy and tragedy, the game felt less stressful, which in turn kept me hooked. After my playthroughs with Bigby in Fabletown, I felt a sense of accomplishment and with each episode I felt closer to a huge discovery, unlike Game of Thrones where I felt that I had just single-handedly murdered a small village by picking up the wrong slice of bread.
Don’t get me wrong, although they are the biggest tear-jerks in Telltale’s library, both the Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead games are brilliant. Weaving in their own plot with each series’ preexisting foundation, the stories are incredibly well told and emotionally moving. Most importantly, Telltale finds a way to put you in the control of a character living in both of those worlds. Through each video game character’s turmoil, I discovered a newfound respect for leaders such as Rick Grimes, Shane Walsh, Daenerys Targaryen and many others. I could never lead others in a medieval world filled with white walkers or zombies. So if I do ever get teleported to another dimension or the T-Virus breaks, I’ll make sure to off myself!