Has a story ever changed you?


#1

I personally am a fan of reading books that challenge my way of thinking and help me to learn more about the world and the differing views held in it. Though not every book manages, every now and then I find a really good story that leaves me thinking a little differently then when I started it.

So, I started wondering how common this is for others, and if a story/book ever changed the way you forumgoers think about the world? If so, what book and how?

Also, has a CoG or HG ever do something like that to you?


#3

“Divided We Fall” helped me form my anti-war beliefs


#4

I’m mostly talking about fiction as I’m particularly interested in learning how fictional stories can effect people irl, but any written story that changed you is fine.


#5

Absolutely.

In terms of games, Porpentine and kaleidofish have both done work that has really moved me and made me look at the world differently. Depression Quest by Zoe Quinn, too, deserves a mention. In terms of CoG, I felt Choice of Robots opened a lot of doors that made me consider ethical dilemmas and questions that I hadn’t often stopped to consider beforehand

There’s so many books I can name but I think there’s something to be said about reading authors who explore things you otherwise would never see or think about. I learned a lot of things from literature that I never learned from a classroom, like the often-swept-under-the-rug history of eugenics, or the existence of postpartum depression in a world that romanticizes motherhood. And that’s just subject matter, never mind encountering perspectives that come from an entirely different racial, gendered, religious, or economic context than your own. There’s some truly devastating poetry out there, too–recently Claudia Rankine came out with a book of poems, Citizen, which explores racial microaggression in the US. It’s a powerful read.


#7

I’ve read many books which have change my perspective, but the one that has truly influence me was ‘Lord of the Flies’ in which it showed me what humans are capable of. And in doing so I developed the belief of amorality and became really ‘darker’ in thought, all by reading a book that made me think, really shows the power of literature.


#8

I’ve never been changed in the sense that reading a particular book resulted in an epiphany that radically altered my approach to life. Rather, reading has opened me up to new ways of seeing the world, life and myself. It’s given me more choices, greater perspective, and new ways of relating to the people around me. It’s happened gradually, though, not instantaneously.


#9

I’d say every book I’ve ever read (which is a lot) changed me a tiny bit, and all together they made me who I am today.

As for specific books, the first book with an unhappy ending I ever read was Feed. As far as dystopian fiction goes, it was way more relevant and hard-hitting than stuff like Hunger Games and Divergent. I still see reflections of it in our society, even though I read it ten years ago. The first Shakespeare I ever read was Romeo and Juliet, and I now list him as my favorite writer of all time.


#10

Interestingly, at one of the COG panels at GaymerX, either Aaron Reed (of Hollywood Visionary) or Squinky (of Dominique Pamplemousse) asserted that it was playing games that first clued them in to the fact that they were queer. As in, when offered to play a character of the opposite gender, they paused, and choose the opposite gender, and everything was ok (fires didn’t rain down from the heavens, whatever) and it set them down a path of reconciliation with their gender identity.


#11

The ability to play queer characters was what ultimately led me to CoG. I was googling “lesbian video game protagonist” and found CoG in a few forum posts that came up in later pages. The opportunity to see myself reflected in media never really existed when I was in high school (outside of foreign films). Even now, video games tend to portray lesbians more to titillate straight males than to create emotionally satisfying experiences for queer women.

I’m really grateful that the opportunity to be myself is so widely accepted in CoG titles. It’s wonderfully validating.


#12

Stories have helped me get through some really awful times. They’ve helped me feel not quite so alone. They’ve given me hope when it seemed like there was none. They’ve let me dream of better places, better worlds.

I don’t think there’s been a single lightning strike moment of change, a revelation that a game, or a book has brought about, but they’ve certainly shaped who I am.

Queer stories are important. Queer characters in books, on television, in games, that’s all important.

I can, fairly easily, find books with queer protagonists in my genres of choice. (Sci-fi and Fantasy). It’s a little trickier with games, there’s far less games than books, but there’s a number of them now.

Movies though, forget about protagonist, you’re lucky if there’s even acknowledgement that anyone but cis-straight people exist. (At least in the mainstream, there are some indie movies.) TV Shows? We’re fed scraps of subtext most of the time, forced to read between the lines.

So I’d say both books and games are light-years ahead of the rest of the entertainment industry.

Ugh I hate that.

I wanted to say something about how it’s important for the tools to be available so that queer people can tell their own stories.


#13

I think The Neverending Story changed me as a kid. Something about that refrain, “that is another story, and will be told another time”… getting immersed in the sense of a world with doors opening everywhere, more than you could explore in a book or a lifetime.

When I first picked up The Fountainhead, I had to put it down after about 3 pages. The way Rand wrote about nature – utterly unRomantic, un-natural – was so different to some of my core values that it gave me vertigo. I wouldn’t say I left the book sharing many (any?) of Rand’s views, but she opened my eyes to a wildly different way of interpreting the world. (The more ambitious but inferior Atlas Shrugged didn’t have anything like the same effect – but it did make great parody material for the last online forum I spent way too much time on, back in Ye Olde Days of Usenet…)

Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham swept me right up to the brink of atheism. A good few years later, Gilead by Marilynne Robinson carried me in the other direction. There’s a lot more to that story, obviously, but those novels were more than just signposts.

Lolita changed my idea of what fiction could do. I’d never read a protagonist who wrestled with me before Humbert Humbert – bold and insidious, contemptuous of my judgment while trying to erode it.

So far, no CoG or HG has shifted my mind; CoRobots probably came closest, but I think I found it more heartstring-tugging and admiration-inducing (like, say, Time Traveler’s Wife or the Long Price Quartet or lots of my other faves) rather than mind-changing like the books above.


#14

Couldn’t really say…

There’s a lot of stories that are impactful and a few that make me think about things in a different light. But I don’t like pushy stories that have an agenda, or that come off like propaganda.

I suppose the reason stories don’t tend to “change” my viewpoints as much as they may have done is because I have a very open mind. So I’m comfortable with anything, no matter how ridiculous or how obscene the points of view may be. One of the things that did make me try and keep an open mind though was a sociology article on the theory of cultures and the definition of ‘advanced’ cultures and whether they have a right to change those seen as inferior or backwards.

The article in question was analysing an African tribe that, apparently when newborn babies are able to crawl, leave them in the wild if they happen to lose their grip on their parents. The reason being, if they’re strong enough they’ll get back to the mother or the village, and if they die so be it. And that was important to their society as they were nomadic (or a hunting society) that relied on strength and endurance, so anything that was lacking in those two attributes were left to fend for themselves.

Most of my class thought that was pretty strong stuff, worthy of interfering with, but who knows.


#15

Oh, hell yes. Steppenwolf, Ishmael, and the Prophet were kind of like my holy books for awhile. Ishmael for how to treat the world, the Prophet for how to treat other people, Steppenwolf for how you treat yourself. Steppenwolf is the inspiration behind my newest WIP.

As for games, every one I play teaches me something about games - what works, what doesn’t, what can be done. Some of my inspirations being Tin Star, Heroes Rise, and Zombie Exodus. Also, an unfinished WIP called Blood For Poppies.

I believe the first game I played that really changed my life was Indigo Prophecy, back in 2005. It was such a revelation about what games can be, how they can be about people instead of button-mashing. I know, some people who played that game complained there was still too much button-mashing, but the idea of making a game where drinking coffee and talking to your friends can be the only way to survive? It was the first “sanity meter” I saw in a game, and it was brilliant at drawing you into the minds of the characters.

One recent game that changed my way of thinking was Analogue: A Hate Story (also its sequel, Hate Plus.) Any game that makes you cry that much is bound to leave a mark. Also seconding @SwanMaiden on Porpentine - I will never forget With Those We Love Alive. It haunts me.

Huh, I never thought about that. That’s interesting. I definitely have noticed that playing different characters helps players accept differences.


#17

I just reread the Prophet the other day. That’s one book which continues to have an impact on my life, even years after I first read it. I quoted the final section of it at my grandfather’s funeral (“Farewell to you and the youth I have spent with you…”), and I’ve gone back to the section on joy and sorrow over and over again. I’m not a religious person, but Gibran’s work is utterly beautiful, and I’ve found it to be an endless source of comfort.


#18

Interesting research on how stories can change us without (probably) our conscious awareness:


#19

I …honestly don’t know how to reply to this. I’ve gone through so many books, and games, that have caused me to have the sensation that I just discovered something… it’s almost seems harder to think of things that don’t evoke some form of empathy.

There’s this one small example regarding a CoG game that I can put forth: In Tin Star, there’s a point where your MC is talking to an NPC about having dreams of Lander County becoming a paradise. And my parents have a place out there in Nevada, a few counties over- there’s NOTHING in Lander County, to speak of. It’s barren as can be of towns. So knowing that, it was like “Wow. The MC’s dream is never going to come true… or it won’t last. That’s a cold hard -fact-.” And I felt momentarily floored.


#20

The only story I could think of would be Catch 22. That was some crazy stuff. The thing I picked up from that is that what is crazy or not completely depends on what’s considered normal in the world around you.


#21

The first book the popped into my head was Slaughterhouse-Five. It deals with the theory of time as a human construct. It’s just the way we make sense of the world time isn’t necessarily actually linear, and even if someone is dead right now, they’re still alive in all of the other moments of their life… I don’t think I’m doing a very good job of explaining this but I highly reccommend you read the book. It also introduced one of my favorite phrases “So it goes,” which was said any time a character died. Death is inevitable and can be terrifying, but it is a natural part of life and this book helped me come to grips with that a bit more.


#22

The Grapes of Wrath (Steinbeck), Things Fall Apart (Achebe), and The Good Earth (Buck) all changed my life a little, I think. I mean, I was a teenager when I first read them anyway, so I suppose it was a malleable point in my life to begin with, but something about the way characters in these books that I started out thinking were just terrible people becoming a lot more sympathetic as the story went on taught me a hell of a lot about empathy and what it really means to care about people because they’re people. (As opposed to because they are people like me). Actually, The Good Earth took a protagonist I started out feeling for and made him less likeable, but I never lost the feeling that I wanted good things for him, even in his less moral moments.

Something about each of those books just hit me on a visceral level, you know? I’d like to think that the door to my thought was already at least a little open, but those books definitely stuck a stop in there for when I wanted to shut it again. I’m much more open to being uncomfortable now than I used to be, and I think it’s done me a lot of good.

Thank you, high school English class, I suppose.


#23

Speaking as the supposed demographic to which you refer (straight male and for clarity, I say supposed from the view of media to us, not you to me.) I agree in a sense. If I want titillation, I’ll go to the hard porn thank-you. However, when I experience the more mainstream media, I want enticing emotions not physical satisfaction. I understand that much of society is ingrained in that mindset of straight male default and I believe that is a disservice to the audience. To bring my interjection further to the main point of the article, yes I believe fiction of any media can and has effected me. I am a creature of infinite curiosity. Fiction allows for a window into unknown for me. It gives me the possibility of learning beyond my own individual perception. In terms of CoG, I am the opposite of you, Jenna_V. I don’t seek validation of who I am (however, I do understand that media views us both differently, something I want to see change for the better) but to question who else I could be. Even outside CoG, I sometimes find myself lost in worlds and people of my own creation. Often very different from myself.

On the question of “Has a story ever changed you?” I’m not sure a binary answer is sufficient. The German yiet (roughly yes and/but no), is probably a good facsimile for my purposes. How do I turn these simple things into these huge Philosophical dilemmas. Ultimately, I will say that my definition remains unchanged even though the character maybe effected by any stimulus including fiction (if anyone understood that, you must be as insane as I am.)