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Forming a bond with Fictional Characters

As I watched a scene of horror, a massacre, an act of mercy carried out by the character I had filled the shoes of for many days, a lump formed in my throat.

The emotions raised in me were unusual. You see, this was a video game. The killing was something
common, in fact in that day alone, I had probably carried out many virtual acts of atrocity.

So, why did I take this scene so badly? It was the feelings of the character, that had seemingly been handed
down to me. The killings were necessary, a leader killing his men who were infected and destined to
die worse deaths.  It wasn’t taken lightly by the character, so I couldn’t take it lightly. It makes me wonder – how is it that we can feel like we have formed an actual connection with these works of Fiction?
When you read a book, it is up to you to visualise the entire life of the person. You have an idea of what they look like, and every person sees a unique image of the character. You feel protective of them. It makes you
happy to see them succeed, you grow to root for them. Seeing them fail upsets you.

It’s a mysterious and wonderful thing to happen! Books, movies, games – anything with well written
fictional characters – transport us away from ourselves. We exist on a different frequency with them, but at the same time, we stay rooted on earth. A double life, with no consequences. The true meaning of losing yourself for an hour or two, maybe more even. For the number of hours you spend reading or playing as them, you exist as one. This bond is shared only between you and the character, a secret easily kept by both. Whoever would understand why you would cry at the death of your favourite character? The world never has to know.

And, you know, I feel like we need this – especially today. Think about the stresses and strains of our existence. The variables; the number of things we need to do by Monday. The work-load. The family stresses. Should we restrict ourselves? Should we never allow ourselves a break in this reality to be part of another? That’d be a tragedy. Sometimes we need a break, and that breaks needs to be to escape. Escape from ourselves and all of the work waiting for us, all of the bills coming in. We need a few hours to forget that life can be plain hard sometimes.

Could you imagine being without a book, a TV show, a strong narrative in general? Wouldn’t it feel lonely? I think it would, that’s for sure. I like the idea of there being a fictional character out there, with a life a hell of a lot more adventurous and exciting than mine. Sure, I don’t own a unicorn or run a Private Military corporation – but why does that matter? I mascaraed like that is my life, in those few hours that I like to call my spare time.

So, in the end, the moral of this article is that Fictional Characters make our lives better, by transporting us into theirs for a time. Sure, it’s not recommended to live with one’s head in the clouds all day long. But to escape reality and pretend to be on some great adventure is a gift we have been afforded in life, it’d be a shame not to use it!

Maggie X


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4 thoughts on “Forming a bond with Fictional Characters”

  1. I love this post and I connect with it and you so deeply. I actually talk a little bit about how I use books and writing to escape the real world. I never actually thought about it with gaming, though. Now that I think of it I often do become one with the character I am playing. I feel queasy when my character is up high, and I jump when something attacks. It’s amazing how we can actually become more emotionally connected to a fictional character than we do to real people.

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