Recently, I had to put my cat, Ruka, down. She was a beautiful black cat and had been with me since I picked her up from the shelter seven years ago. It was a terrible, heartbreaking experience to watch her go and I alternate between missing her so badly that it hurts and forgetting she won’t be there waiting for me when I get home.
Ruka’s passing got me thinking more about animals in video games and the way that we interact with them. It’s a bit strange how we’ll treat animals when they’re in video games. Humans are easy to kill, but animals being killed is always a big deal. I remember when I was playing Valiant Hearts: The Great War I kept thinking that if they killed Walt, the helpful dog companion, I would be 100% done with the game. I would have been less upset if they had killed any of the human characters. Valiant Hearts is set in a war, after all, and humans die in war, but I just kept thinking that Walt had to survive.
So why do we get so attached to our pets whether they’re virtual representations or not? Aside from the fact that they’re cute and make us happy, pets often play an important role in our lives. It isn’t an exaggeration when people claim that pets are a part of our families. They are with us in times of trouble; they are steadfast and stay with us even as the humans in our lives come and go. If you have a cat or a dog and then go through a bad breakup, your pet will generally still be there with you. Your pets don’t judge you, or if they do, they’re unable to voice it, and it just seems like pets are the one place in your life that you can get that pure, abiding love.