Looking past all the swords and bullets, there's another side to gaming that the general public doesn't always see. Gamers are a passionate lot, and the writers behind our games tend to be even more so, putting a whole lot of heart and soul into characters who easily rival any offered up by literature or film.
There are plenty of game scenes that have resonated with entire generations of players and will never be forgotten – is there a single Final Fantasy fan who can't quote the opera house scene? While there are plenty of mindless tap-tap games or shooters without much in the way of story, even those types of games have hidden gems of dialogue if you look deep enough.
Everything from existentialism to objectivism to moral relativity all get their due in various game series when you head into the likes of Bioshock, Planescape: Torment, and SOMA. After dredging through hundreds of games with interesting themes, we've put together a list of some of the most inspiring or thought-provoking quotes to be found in any console or PC title.
“It's more important to master the cards you're holding than to complain about the ones your opponent was dealt.”
-- Grimsley, Pokemon Black And White
Although this is clearly meant quite literally in the context, that's an interesting concept to teach kids through a video game -- expressing the sentiments of personal responsibility and being thankful for what you have.
While explained slightly differently, it also reminds me of the famous Louis C.K. quote:
“The only time you look in your neighbor's bowl is to make sure that they have enough. You don't look in your neighbor's bowl to see if you have as much as them.”
“Strength lies in knowing oneself.”
-- Dak'kon, Planescape: Torment
There's endless interesting conversations in this novel-esque game, especially between the night hag Ravel and the amnesiac Nameless One, but Dak'kon frequently takes home the award for strongest proponent of personal development. He may be a downer at times (getting a whole city killed because of his self-doubt tends to do that to a gith), but he's got some great advice.
“We stand upon the precipice of change. The world fears the inevitable plummet into the abyss. Watch for that moment...and when it comes, do not hesitate to leap. It is only when you fall that you learn whether you can fly.”
-- Flemeth, Dragon Age II
Sometimes the most morally ambiguous characters have the best lines in gaming, and somehow the witch Flemeth here manages to both be all gloom and doom AND inspirational at the same time.
"No gods or kings. Only man." - Bioshock
In this game series, you can usually bet that if there's a giant statue with a banner or stained glass window quote, it's being said by an absolute mad man who is going to be a villain.
In this instance though, it can really be seen from another point of view, as a reminder that our fates our are own, and we are the masters of our own destiny (even if these games don't always play out that why by the time the credits roll).
"Death is inevitable. Our fear of it makes us play safe, blocks out emotion. It's a losing game. Without passion, you are already dead."
-- Max Payne
Take it from Mr. Misfortune himself: just simply getting up each morning, punching a clock, and ticking all the boxes sure ain't living. If you don't have something you really care about, then it's probably time to call it a day (or at least find a new game to play).
"Nothing is true, everything is permitted."
"That is rather cynical."
"It would be if it were doctrine. But it is merely an observation on the nature of reality. To say that nothing is true is to realize that the foundations of society are fragile and that we must be the shepherds of our own civilization. To say that everything is permitted is to understand that we are the architects of our actions and that we must live with our consequences, whether glorious or tragic."
-- Ezio, Assassin's Creed: Revelations
The eponymous creed itself is revealed in detail in this entry of the franchise, and it's definitely one to make a gamer take pause and ponder. In a lot of ways its much like the "no gods, no kings" from BioShock, but presented with a little more flair, befitting the assassin giving the explanation.
“Did you ever try to put a broken piece of glass back together? Even if the pieces fit, you can’t make it whole again the way it was. But if you’re clever, you can still use the pieces to make other useful things. Maybe even something wonderful, like a mosaic. Well, the world broke just like glass. And everyone’s trying to put it back together like it was, but it’ll never come together in the same way….”
-- Moira, Fallout 3
Whoever thought you'd get something deep out of Moira, who doesn't seem to be entirely there? In between twisting your DNA like a feline with a ball of yarn or asking you to get into fights with rabid mole rats, she manages to make the end of the world not seem so horrible, without actually lessening the impact in any way of what led to the sad state of the D.C. Wasteland. It's not hard to see the personal applications of such a philosophy if applied to people who are broken as well.
"Nothing is more badass than treating a woman with respect."
-- Mr. Torgue, Borderlands 2
The Borderlands series is chock full of some of the best quotes in all gaming history, but definitely more of the hilariously offensive variety rather than the actually inspiring kind. Then, out of nowhere, this weapons fanatic whose speech must constantly be bleeped throws out something progressive. Pandora is full of strange wonders, indeed.
"I was called here by humans who wished to pay me tribute."
"Tribute?!? You steal men's souls, and make them your slaves!"
"Perhaps the same could be said of all religions..."
-- Dracula, Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night
Oh man, I can't tell you how much this little exchange between Richter and Dracula just blew my mind as a 12 year old who had no idea something like this was even allowed to be said in a video game. Inspiring? Not so much. Thought-provoking? You betcha.
“You reap what you sow, Artyom: force answers force, war breeds war, and death only brings death. To break this vicious circle one must do more than act without any thought or doubt.”
-- Khan, Metro 2033
In a world devastated by nuclear war and invaded by otherwordly beings, is it any wonder some grow tired of perpetuating an endless cycle of violence?
“Too many people have opinions on things they know nothing about. And the more ignorant they are, the more opinions they have.”
-- Thomas Hildern, Fallout: New Vegas
This one might seem like more of an insult than an inspirational quote at first, but I see it from the opposite side. This is a valuable reminder, especially in the social networking age of instant communication, that sometimes it's better to remain silent, or at the very least, to be uncertain of your position until all the facts come to light.
“Although my heart may be weak, it's not alone. It's grown with each new experience. And it's found a home with all the friends I've made. I've become a part of their heart, just as they've become a part of mine. And if they think of me now and then, if they don't forget me, then our hearts will be one. I don't need a weapon. My friends are my power!”
-- Sora, Kingdom Hearts
Although more on the kitschy and cutesy side, this is undeniably a powerful moment in the Kingdom Hearts series.
"Even if you run into a storm, there's always a way out, no matter how bleak things seem."
-- Vyse, Skies Of Arcadia
A relentlessly (maybe even annoyingly?) positive character, Vyse is sort of a random inspirational quote generator. I imagine when people need a motivational poster for an office, they just snag Vyse quotes.
“One man goes into the waters of baptism, a different man comes out, born again. But who is that man who lies submerged? Perhaps that swimmer is both sinner and saint, until he is revealed unto the eyes of man.”
-- Comstock, BioShock Infinite
Another Bioshock quote that's actually sort of horrific within the context of the game (but motivational if considered alone) this is basically Comstock's way of saying your choices are your own, while making you think about fate and whether it was really inevitable that all your experiences lead to one outcome.
“A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad.”
-- Shigeru Miyamoto
Just remember that the next time a game you want gets pushed back and you feel like unleashing all-caps armageddon on a forum. Better to have no game at all than to have a game that wasn't worth playing.