Emotional vs. Intellectual

So Lost is over, and without getting too far into spoiler territory, I would say it was a highly emotionally satisfying ending, without being a particularly intellectually satisfying ending.

In other words, it was the exact opposite of the ending to, say, The Dark Tower series.

That got me thinking about what the difference is, and what works best in an R.P. situation. In some ways, it’s the difference between having your character “win,” or something like that, at the end of a campaign, versus having the thing that makes sense happen to your character. Do you like to end the campaign with that flawed, interesting character of yours succumbing to those faults, or are you only happy if you slay the dragon, rescue the princess, and get crowed new king of Awestometonia forever and ever, Amen.

Granted, that’s a false dichotomy. It’s really more of a continuum, and emotionally satisfying and intellectually satisfying can certainly co-exist, but walk with me here, for a minute, in black and white world.

It occurred to me, after watching the finale, that I almost always like the often rough, intellectually satisfying stuff to happen to my character. I like it when characters die, I’m happy when they drown in their own hubris, etc.

Having said that, I liked the ending of Lost a great deal. I don’t think they needed to explain everything. One word: midichlorians. Mysteries are cooler than explanations, almost always. If I was PLAYING Lost, however, and that was how my character wound up, I think I would have been pretty bummed out. I think on some level it demonstrates the way I think about R.P. For me, gaming is much more of an intellectual and creative output than an emotional one. I’m not a “power fantasy” type gamer. I’ve never bragged about my sword or gun. As such, I could care less if I kill the dragon. If getting killed by the dragon can bring some more pathos to the story, then that’s great.

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