A study conducted by polling firm Bowen Research indicates that games are beginning to catch up with other media such as books, movies, and music in emotional impact. In a survey of 535 gamers, over two-thirds said that games were either the best medium at eliciting emotion or would soon equal the other media.
As expected, the genre most responsible for the highest emotional reaction were role-playing titles, which tend to have more involved and dramatic stories than other genres. Single-player RPGs, with their pre-planned narrative arcs and emotional highs, beat out online multiplayer RPGs; respondents commonly cited the Final Fantasy
series of RPGs as a particularly emotional example, and the moment in Final Fantasy VII
when Aerith is killed made the most people cry.
After role-playing games, the most emotional genres were first-person shooters and action games. Scripted events in the former are becoming increasingly adept at telling an emotional story, but the most common feeling elicited by the games was competetiveness, followed by honor/loyalty. Lowest on the scale, and notably lacking in those areas as well as "awe and wonder" or "delight," were flight simulators.
"It is striking that young people today look at games as an entertainment medium that surpasses or will equal the more traditional things that touch us deeply, like books, movies, and music," said Hugh Bowen of Bowen Research. "Half of all gamers think conveying emotion is extremely or pretty important which suggests that games which can achieve more of this will be extremely popular."