Caring about Video Game Characters

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Even though a video game character can be as authentic and iconic as Super Mario or Link from The Legend of Zelda, it is difficult to imagine the player caring about them by any means. Someone can argue they don’t seem real, or they are not even able to show human feelings such as love, fear, passion, etc. However, the video game industry has been changing so much in the last few years. The last console generation is showing off amazing graphics that can even make people not know how to distinguish a game or a movie. Graphics are really important, but it is not enough to make a video game character believable. Many games are using graphics to make a character sound, look, and act more like a human being, but only one game has reached a level that it is almost impossible not to care about the characters in the game. This game is The Last of Us. For those who don’t know, The Last of Us is a Playstation exclusive title published by Sony and produced by their own studio Naughty Dog. The game was released in 2013 on Playstation 3. One year later, the game was remastered for the Playstation 4.

The Last of Us tells a story about a man named Joel, who loses his daughter at the very beginning of the game in a sort of zombie outbreak, and found himself 20 years later on a mission to escort a little girl across a devastated United States. She is supposedly the only human being immune from the bacteria. Looking at the plot, it doesn’t sound unique or compelling, but trust me, it is. What makes them believable are probably the things they’ve been through during the game. Ellie, the little girl, is probably one of my favorite characters of all time. She doesn’t know anything about our world; she was born in the middle of the apocalypse. For instance, her thoughts about the simplicity of our world are an incredible experience to think about. The world is shitty as you can imagine, and she is wondering why girls in our time are thinking about dating guys while life is so tough (at least for her).

Besides, the game even shows that the most terrifying creature in the world is not the sort of zombies, but other human beings. People usually kill each other just for the sake of getting a different pair of shoes or protecting themselves against innocent fellows. Furthermore, Joel, who is the sort of hero in this tale, is not the good guy who helps everyone else. Joel is a human, and has feelings just like you and me. His decisions are questionable, very questionable actually. He does his best to protect Ellie. They evolve a relationship that makes both forget the world they are living in. He treats Ellie as a daughter in the development of the game. In the player prospective, it is just amazing how it evolves. At the beginning of the game, you and Joel don’t know Ellie, but after losing his daughter, the player can feel a little bit what life means for Joel. Then, the game jumps 20 years, and after meeting Ellie, the player feels she could be a good reason for Joel to keep fighting for his and her life. As you can imagine, many bad things happen to them, and it just makes them stronger. At the middle of the game, the player cares about Ellie just as he was Joel. She is very special for him, and you (the player) are able to understand why it happens. No big spoilers ahead, but at the end of the game, you understand the questionable decisions Joel makes. He is not going to let Ellie die for the sake of saving the human race. She is too important for him. When I played The Last of Us, I totally understood Joel’s decisions, and felt they were right. As Collin Moriarty wrote in his review about the game at IGN in 2013, “The Last of Us is a masterpiece, a case study in how games can immerse you, tell a fascinating story, and make you really care about their characters.”

Different Country = Different Life

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I have decided to write about other things besides videogames in this blog. It has been a lot of stuff going on recently. Have just moved back to my hometown in Brazil two months ago. I can already tell how life is different down here. First, there are many positive points about being in my city. Family and close friends are always around. It was something that I usually missed in the USA. Don’t get me wrong, I just love all my American, Chinese and Latino friends that I’ve met in the USA, but have to admit I was missing my really close friends. Otherwise, expressing ourselves in a second language is not the same, but it is a topic for other post. However, being in Brazil brings a lot of problems that I have got over in the USA. The traffic jams are one of the worst things here. I lived in San Francisco for 3 months during a summer internship, and the traffic is not even close to my hometown. It is kind of funny, because I actually work for the same company in Brazil doing the very same thing. I have goggled it, and I live further from the office in San Francisco than in my hometown. But, as you can guess, I spend one more hour to get to work here than in San Fran. It is really annoying.

Furthermore, Brazil has a lot of things to learn from the USA public transportation. I don’t understand why I cannot recharge my transportation card using my credit card. Believe it or not, they only accept cash. If you know me, you know how much I hate having cash in my pocket. Mainly, when I am living in a country that is not safe as the USA. Also, I got a really bad impression about the World Cup in Brazil after coming back. My city, Belo Horizonte, was one the host cities (actually the awful game against Germany was here). I was hoping for big changes on the transportation system in BH, but I’m really disappointed with it. We haven’t gotten any big changes in the transportation department. There are some big buses that kind of work in some cities in the Brazilian south. The government is even expanding those buses to the Olympics in Rio. However, they are completely useless in my city. They can make your life easier if you are going to the stadium. But for someone who needs to cross the city in order to commute to work, they have no effect in my daily life. Again, believe it or not, one of the biggest cities in Brazil does not have a subway system. Okay, the traffic jams were and still are my main nightmare about coming back to Brazil, but they are not the only one.

It is kind of difficult to feel safe in Brazil. I didn’t feel safe in San Fran either, but in Brazil things are far worst. I cannot quote Indiana, because Bloomington is probably the safest place on earth. Going to work and school carrying a Mac Book in my backpack, which costs thousands in Brazil, brings a fear that I haven’t felt in a while. This sensation is probably the result of being robbed twice in my neighborhood, which is considered one of the bests in BH. The last biggest point that I need to get along is the relationships with Brazilians. Brazilians are, and myself were very open to deal with people. But, after living for almost two years in the USA, I feel like it is not a good thing at all. It is probably easier to start a conversation with someone in Brazil than in the USA. Moreover, if you want to just get to know someone, Brazil is probably better than the USA. However, for a long-term relationship such as a friend or a girlfriend, it is not as good as in the USA. I’m not saying I don’t trust in Brazilians because they talk to anyone, but I feel like my relationships in the USA are stronger than those from Brazil, even though I was missing my Brazilian friends so much. If you read it, please, leave your comments below. Thanks for being here.