Science/Tech

Side Quests: How Video Games Offer Meaningful Stories Without Violence

Following your destiny and saving the world from impending doom are all common themes in video games. But how does this medium actually tell smaller stories and teach kindness when bigger plot devices exist?

Why Video Game Side Quests That Focus On Kindness Are Important

In the world of role-playing video games, rarely do you come across a title where the main plot device is a hero being pitted against a big evil enemy that plans on either conquering the world or destroying it, unless the hero (or heroine) decides to put a stop to it. And there’s nothing wrong with it since it tells us that good would always triumph over evil. It’s what we identify with Link from the “Legend of Zelda” games, Cloud Strife from “Final Fantasy VII” or even Amaterasu from “Okami.”

But what actually makes these virtual worlds worth saving? How do video games give us that connection and motivation?

It’s easy, actually. You give your player a world made of people with stories and motivations, and not just one full of objectives that you have to tick off of a checklist. And for the longest time, video games have communicated that through side quests.

Oftentimes tiny stories that work completely on their own, side quests have been used by video games as a medium to make a hero’s journey fuller and richer. This is because while following a linear path is good, taking the off-beaten road to encounter smaller stories help us connect with the game world more.

Thankfully, there’s a slew of memorable ones that we can mention. Take the famous “The Witcher 3” side quest where Geralt literally has to help find an old woman’s lost frying pan, for example. There’s also Cloud Strife stopping to help a child find her lost cats in “Final Fantasy” or Kazuma tracking a kid’s stolen video game in the “Yakuza” franchise. And who can ever forget Link helping a stressed-out girl find her lost chickens in “Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time?”

There’s some definite merit to be found in these smaller quests because a lot of them often teach the player that heroism can also be found without drawing your sword or fighting someone. They may not always be the biggest adventures, but they’re powerful demonstrations of kindness, one that you can carry when you finally get back on the main road to actually save the world. Only this time, you have a bigger motivation to do so.

Video game Video games combine all forms of media, from music, to visual arts, and of course, programming. Anton Porsche/Pixabay

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