Stories and emotions

Some recent ‘events’ led me to think about the emotions created by stories, in any form. Be it a book, a movie, or even a video game; a good story should probably create some emotions in those who ‘consume’ it. But, is there a thing like going too far?

I was always one of those who believed stories should trigger some emotions. I believe that well-done bad guy is someone you can really hate. Likewise, characters can be very hated due to their personality even though they are, at least in power, far from the big bad guy. For this example, one does not need to go far: Dolores Umbridge from the Harry Potter series is a good example – a character with so hateful personality that many considered her, in some ways, worse than even Voldemort.

Likewise, I believe that protagonists are easier to relate to when they are more human – have their own emotions, own struggles, to see that they are still people (well, if they are, of course). It’s an important part of my reading experience – maybe as important as the story itself.

But what if it’s not so one-sided?

And that’s where the thing comes on. The latest expansion of Wolrd of Warcraft launched a few days ago but the story was being set up during the three weeks before, leading to several characters already made quite an impact on their story.

The biggest impact was made by Sylvanas, a character that I ‘like’ roughly as much as the mentioned Dolores Umbridge. Despite that, she has quite a fanbase – which was quite shocked by her actions. Actions that I could see coming because of my opinion of her.

What started as discussion about how much evil she is turned into a forum war of its own among people with different views on her: group like me stating that she was evil long ago, disappointed fans about how she leads her faction to (another) ruin, her remaining defenders trying to find justification in her actions.

It eventually spiraled out of control, leading to Twitter attacks on the story development team in Blizzard and the author Christie Golden who wrote the book ‘Before the Storm‘ (my review) and blaming her for the character’s fate despite just writing a book about a story that was prepared before she joined Blizzard (by the developer’s words, story is in development for up to 4 years ahead).

It led to several responses from Blizzard employees about the matter. They said that they want their stories to trigger emotions (that’s what stories are for, even in games) but did not expect them to go out of control that much. It was also containing the usual ‘there’s more in store you can’t see yet’ that probably did not work on some either while sparking several more discussions between others.

Now that the expansion launched and most of the people are busy playing, the storm calmed somewhat. This side of storytelling is definitely something that will get a life of its own as the story goes on and shows that passionate fanbase can get more immersed in a game’s story than even its authors would presume.

That’s it from me for this time.

Attached image is copyrighted by Blizzard Entertainment.

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