Episode 430: The Many Emotions of Playing and Finishing a Video Game


I’m still on my Mass Effect Legendary Edition craze. I’m still having a fun time going through the games and even trying different choices, like actually killing Wrex in Virmire, sacrificing the current Galactic Council and having Udina become the Alliance representative to the galaxy.

There is a part of me which does want me to move on and play something different. I know I can simply hop online and buy games through the PlayStation Store and whatnot. However, I would much rather go to a brick and mortar store to browse for new games because I know I can find some of the older games I haven’t played yet at a discount. With games getting so expensive these days, I’ve become very frugal that way. Since it’s still very problematic to go out to an actual store in the Philippines, I haven’t been able to get any new games for a while.

This has led me to look at my back catalog of games I have for my PlayStation 4. I’ve thought about going through some of the video games I’ve beaten before. I’ve thought about playing through the new God of War again and even playing Final Fantasy VII Remake to death once again. As I was looking through my library of games, all of a sudden my brain started to wander through the rollercoaster of emotions I felt while playing and finishing these games… and I bet a lot of you fellow gamers have felt the same and the weird mixture of happiness, sadness and the other various emotions we go through while we play.

I guess the first emotion we do feel is exhilirating feeling of excitement and trepidation when we all start out. It’s actually normal as we usually have high expectations for the games we play. We hope and pray the game we’re going to be playing for the foreseeable future will actually be good. Reviews and word of mouth may say a game is good or bad but we can’t really tell if it’s going to be our cup of tea until we play it ourselves. Game developers understand this so they try to ease us through the first few minutes of the game teaching us how to use the basics. Sometimes, like in God of War, this introduction and tutorial can be slow moving but, with a mixture of good storytelling, makes us swallow the lessons much easier. We might be itching to break free from the hand holding as all we want to do is play. At the same time, though, we do appreciate the slow burn.

Then comes the more exciting moments where the game doesn’t really ramp up the difficulty. The game may send you hordes of enemies to defeat but, as they’re still fairly easy to defeat, they’re easily dispatched quickly with not much fuss. This gives you the strong feeling of being a badass, someone who can conquer the entire game. This wish fulfillment of empowerment is one of the best feelings a gamer feels when he or she plays any video game. It makes you feel like you can take on the world, which does basically set you up for the rude awakening.

That’s because you then run into the roadblock. It may be a puzzle you just can’t solve, a level where you have no idea where to go, a boss that feels unstoppable or even just a bunch of normal enemies that you just can’t beat for one reason or another. This is when the feeling of frustration starts to creep in. The game starts to feel unfair or you proclaim the developers just didn’t know what they were doing. Some gamers may just be godlike and never feel this or they actually thrive on this masochistic pleasure of pain they get out of it. Some games may even choose to just be super easy since they want the player to feel that euphoric feeling of being the master of their domain all the time. I’m still very sure most gamers have hit that feeling of becoming dispiritedness by some difficult segment.

Once you do get over that part, we then go through the boredom stage. Well, it’s not exactly boredom, per say. It’s more of lackadaisical feeling when you’re not really going through the main portion of the game and you’re just exploring the world and going through the sidequests and whatnot. I guess there are some gamers who don’t do this as they want to blaze through the main story but most gamers I know do want to complete the sidequests and find every secret hidden in every nook and cranny of the map. I personally experienced this while playing Final Fantasy VII Remake the first time as I completed every single sidequest put in front of me. I didn’t have to do it but, at the same time, I had to in order to appease the little voice in my head commanding me to do so. This involved having to play through some of the chapters over again but with different choices. Yes, I was that obsessed with getting everything… and I bet there’s a good portion of you did the same.

You pretty much get into a zone after this and, without even knowing it, you’re near the end of the game. This is when you feel this excitement we’re going to complete the game and this deep feeling of melancholia for the same reason. We want to finish the game and get to the ending, see how everything wraps up and hope everything draws to a satisfying conclusion.

At the same time, however, especially if we’re really enjoying the game, we don’t want the experience to end. We want to keep on going, doing as many things as possible to delay the inevitable denouement of the story where we’re the main character and what we’ve done helped move things along. We want to stay in this imaginative world as long as possible but we know, eventually, we do have to begrudgingly trudge on to finish things.

We all get to the final sequence of the game and we go through a gamut of emotions. We get this pensive thrill of making it to the very end and getting to the final battle. We also might feel some level of frustration in the climactic fight if we’re unable to beat the endgame boss. We might even feel a level of euphoria when we get to the final boss because of how awesome it looks!

In the end, however, all gamers eventually persevere and we get that ending cinematic which hopefully ends everything in a high note. We run to another myriad of feelings at this time as well. We usually feel this level of joy and happiness, especially if the game is really good and the ending cinematic satisfies.

At the same time, however, there’s always a twinge of sadness. It’s not because the ending is bad but because it’s over. You’ve finished the game and you’ve gone through it all. You might want to jump back to the start and try different things or try to recapture the feelings you felt but it’ll never be the same.

You can’t recapture the moments that genuinely surprised you or made you think back for a moment to devise a strategy against a particularly difficult enemy. You know what to expect from a boss and the signals they give when they’re about to attack. You explicitly know how to solve the puzzles and get the right items at the right order so you won’t be stumbling around searching for it anymore. You know most of the things that were hidden in those out of the way spaces. All of the twists and turns the story took, you’ve experienced them. You can’t get that feeling of amazement anymore when you do encounter them now.

It’s around this time when you kind of reflect on the game itself. Did I enjoy myself? What were some of the things that could’ve been done better? Was there anything I found annoying or characters I just didn’t like? Were there any missions or sidequests I absolutely hated? How long did I take to actually finish this darned game? That long? Really?

If you play a game, you basically will have a ton of emotional responses. Some may feel good and some may feel bad. In retrospect, I think experiencing these feelings, both positive and negative, is a good thing. It shows we’re passionate about the hobby and it shows we’re doing it because we love it. We want to feel anxious, frustrated, joyful, sad and all the other emotions we go through when we play because we don’t just play games to pass the time. We play games because we love it.


What games have you played that made you run through the most emotions? Let me know in the comments section below!

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