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Why do I form strong emotional connections to non-living items in video games?
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Why do I form strong emotional connections to non-living items in video games?

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Unfortunately, I had to abandon playing Pacific Drive, the thrilling driving game influenced by weird fiction that I suggested last week. This is not because the game is of poor quality – it’s actually fantastic – but because it required more than 20 hours of my time, which I am unable to spare at the moment.

If I am completely honest, it makes me feel uneasy. The game explores a deserted exclusion zone in a worn-out vehicle, uncovering various anomalies. These can be anything from pillars suddenly emerging from the ground to violent storms that push you around the road, all of which are creatively intense and unsettling.

The tourists were ultimately my downfall. Every so often, one may come across human-like mannequins frozen in unsettling poses. They may appear harmless at first, but upon closer inspection, I realized that they can actually move or get closer when your attention is averted. That was the last straw for me. I cannot function in this environment.

Each review I’ve come across for Pacific Drive has highlighted the strong attachment the critic formed with the dilapidated car, acting as their sole companion in the unfamiliar surroundings. As the car is slowly repaired and enhanced with advanced parts and Ghostbusters-style gadgets, it becomes a useful tool for navigating the outside world.

Christopher Livingstone of PC Gamer described the features of his car that aid him during night missions. These include a massive floodlight, a fuel synthesizing device, and a healing device while in the driver’s seat. His favorite feature is the forcefield that prevents hazards from damaging the car. Watching it in action against grotesque monsters, Livingstone couldn’t help but revel in its effectiveness.

Kratos and his trusty axe in God of War: Ragnarok

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I experienced a similar connection. The car provided a sense of security on Pacific Drive, but I also had to maintain it by carefully addressing any scratches or damages after each trip. I would use duct tape and repair resin to tend to its wounds. It felt like the car had its own personality; as you spend more time with your vehicle, you notice its quirks, like the windshield wipers activating when you open the car door or the car honking at inconvenient times. To fix these issues, you have to figure out the cause through a simple engineering logic game or you can just leave it as it is. Eventually, you become accustomed to the random honks.

I frequently encounter the representation of non-living objects as living beings in video games, especially when it involves vehicles. In the game Halo, I had a strong attachment to a particular Warthog and would make an effort to bring it along with me on every level, despite its impracticality and regardless of the dangerous environments I drove it through. To me, it was more than just a vehicle. In Portal, this concept is further explored when the antagonist GLaDOS gives you a Weighted Companion Cube – a plain box with heart designs – which I felt compelled to keep by my side until it was ultimately destroyed as a form of comedic relief.

I’ve developed a strong attachment to certain weapons and armor in games like Monster Hunter. Even when better options were available, I hesitated to give up these favorites. One weapon in particular, Kratos’ axe in God of War, held a special significance for me. Its satisfying return to my hand with a satisfying “thwack” after being thrown made me feel connected to it. I even became irrationally anxious about forgetting to retrieve it and leaving it behind in a dungeon, even though this was impossible.

The feeling towards video game characters is typically designed to evoke emotions, much like fictional characters. However, my attachment to my favorite mug or childhood bike is a more comparable experience. I used to think this was a unique quirk, but upon discovering others’ experiences with Pacific Drive, I found reassurance and amusement in discovering that others also formed peculiar attachments to an imaginary car.

It seems that people have been establishing emotional bonds with game pieces since ancient times, so perhaps it is not as peculiar as it may seem.

What to play

Inkulinati by Yaza.

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For a long time, those of us with a strong desire to immerse ourselves in the world of a medieval manuscript remained unfulfilled. However, with the release of Pentiment, we were finally able to satisfy our longing. Now, Inkulinati offers a more humorous and irreverent take on this growing genre: a strategy game where you lead an army of ink-drawn animals through the elaborately decorated pages of an esteemed text. The game features rabbit archers and snails with the ability to devour anything in their path. Occasionally, you can summon a giant human hand to disrupt the action on the page. It is charmingly silly.

You can access this program on Windows/Mac, Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch.

The estimated duration of play is 8-10 hours.

What to read

GTA VI.View image in fullscreen
  • According to reports from VGC, Rockstar Games has instructed their employees to resume working full-time at the office as they near the final stages of development for Grand Theft Auto VI. However, this decision has met opposition from staff and unions, stating that working from home has been crucial for managing various responsibilities and circumstances. They feel that the sudden return to the office disregards the well-being of the workers most affected.

  • The head of games at Warner Bros recently stated at a Morgan Stanley event that the company is prioritizing funding for mobile and free to play games as well as live service games over single console games. This decision remains unchanged, despite the success of Hogwarts Legacy, a single-player game, being the top selling title last year and the underwhelming performance of Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, a live-service game, this year. It seems that executive decisions will always take precedence.

  • Nintendo has settled a lawsuit that it brought against the makers of a popular Switch emulator, Yuzu, for facilitating piracy. Yuzu’s creators must cease operations immediately, surrender the code and all websites relating to its emulation software, and pay Nintendo $2.4m. This is rather less than the $14m that convicted hacker Gary Bowser is on the hook for, as we reported last month.

  • If you, similar to myself, have found entertainment in the ever-changing Glasgow Willy Wonka fiasco, you might appreciate this recreation of the widely known disappointment in Animal Crossing. Additionally, individuals have recreated it in Fortnite and World of Warcraft. It is unquestionably the present that continues to provide.

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Question Block

Dorfromantik.

I am unable to provide a rewording as the text appears to be an image and not readable. Can you please provide the text in written form for me to reword? Thank you.

This week, a reader named James has asked the following:

As someone who enjoys being creative, I have a particular fondness for sandbox-style games that blur the line between being a drawing app and a fully-fledged game with objectives and obstacles. One of my top picks is Starbound, where I can simultaneously excavate underground and arrange tiles in intricate patterns to construct a visually appealing base, while my fellow players are off battling creatures. I am also a huge supporter of House Flipper. Are there any other similar games that offer ample opportunities for artistic expression?

James, I may not be skilled in art, but I am aware of someone who is: Anna Hollinrake, a co-founder and creative director at Electric Saint, a development company. I requested them to provide a response for you and here is what they had to say:

“I also enjoy the satisfaction of taking a break from a gaming session and appreciating the progress I’ve made in the past few hours! With the rise of photo modes in games, there are even more chances to display a meticulously crafted level. When I think about this, city building games come to mind and the harmony of functional decisions and visual appeal, similar to my favorite aspects of creating traditional artwork. Games like Airborne Kingdom, which draws inspiration from Middle Eastern architecture, and Dorfromantik, a peaceful tile-based game (shown above), immediately come to mind. I can’t resist the charm of the small details of life unfolding beneath my cursor.”

In Terra Nil, you can discover the concept of negative space by erasing all traces of your technology and reviving the land. My personal pleasure lies in the charming simplicity of Townscaper, which I employ as a source of inspiration by creating narratives as I maneuver through the various levels and waterways.

I am an environment artist, so I prefer games that have less emphasis on the landscape. In The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood, I am able to create my own tarot deck using various graphics and imbuing them with personal significance. Similarly, the act of unpacking in the game allows you to create a new life using items belonging to a stranger. It can also be a source of comfort as you navigate the challenge of finding a place for your keyboard, monitor, and graphics tablet in the game.

I am looking forward to the release of Bulwark: Falconeer Chronicles and Summerhouse. Both games have stunning visuals and I cannot wait to take in and appreciate their beauty. I fear that if I were to become interested in model trains, I would become completely consumed, as I enjoy watching small worlds come to life.

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Source: theguardian.com