Chris Bateman (of Only a Game) has a thought provoking article on his new, games only blog on whether or not a game has ever made you cry.
The contention here isn't that people have never cried while playing games, but either that it's an irrelevant question or that it wasn't the actual game part that made you cry — it was the narrative elements, which are not exclusive to games. I'm not at all convinced I agree with his argument entirely, but it's an interesting proposition:
This is the nub of the issue here: a story can make you cry by empathising with the protagonist (or another character), but a game (when viewed as a formal system) cannot do this. It follows that the only way that a videogame can make you cry is by using narrative tools that have nothing to do with games as formal systems whatsoever. So even though, for instance, many people report that they cried when they played Final Fantasy VII at the fateful scene (and indeed, several other cRPGs also show up in player studies as having provoked tears) the moment that actually brought the player to tears was a non-interactive cut scene. It wasn't the game (in the systems view) that made them cry – it was the story – and there never was a question as to whether stories could make you cry.
As usual with these types of articles, the comments are just as interesting as the article. As Bateman notes in the comments section, he intentionally pushed the 'games as play' and 'games as systems' arguments to their most extreme ends, hoping it 'would make for more lively debate.'
A Game Has Never Made You Cry [ihobo]