Hello, everyone! Here's something I thought might be an interesting topic worth discussion. This was inspired by my recent play-through of Mass Effect 3. If you haven't played the game at all, get out because there will be spoilers. If you don't care, or have played the game, read on. *SPOILERSPOILERSSPOILERSOMGSPOILERS!!!* So near the beginning of Mass Effect 3, Shepard and her (I'm using Female!Shepard because that's who I was playing as) crew are in Vancouver for a hearing and to debate on a strategy to deal with the Reapers -- an army of sentient beings hellbent on eradicating everything in the galaxy. In the middle of the hearing, the Reapers attack. The subject I want to focus on concerns a small segment where Shepard encounters a small boy hiding in an air vent. She reaches in and asks him to come with her, but he doesn't. Later, we see him in a rescue transport and the scene slows to a crawl. Somber music plays as a Reaper descends on this transport and blows it all to hell -- taking the boy with it-- and all the while, we see Shepard quietly looking at it, blinking (back tears apparently) and fighting the urge to do something other than stay onboard the Normandy. *SPOILERSPOILERSSPOILERSOMGSPOILERS!!!* According to Shamus of Twenty Sided Die, in this article (http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=30366), he calls it a cheap ploy to get an audience to feel bad for what's happening to the characters. In this example, we don't even know the kid, not even for five minutes; we've no emotional interest in this boy's safety so when he's blown up with the other refugees, all we have is a “Aw, that sucks...” when the game was clearly trying to tell us to feel horrified at what was happening. “FEEL BAD FOR THEM! FEEL BAD FOR SHEPARD! FEEL BAD FOR THE BOY! BE ANGRY AT THE REAPERS DESTROYING EVERYTHING!” it's screaming. For the duration of the game, Shepard has nightmares about the boy where she's in the woods chasing him down and she almost grabs him before he bursts into flames. Shamus, as I understand it, believes this is bad writing. It's no different than a war movie where a young soldier pulls out a photo of his equally young wife and newborn child -- and then promptly gets killed. We're told to feel bad for this guy even when we've literally only known him for, like, ten seconds. There wasn't any time for us to bond with him so his death had any meaning. Cheap drama for the sake of drama rather than taking the time and energy to get us personally involved with the characters so that when something does happen, we feel the horror the game/book wants us to feel. Do you agree with him? How would you have re-written that scene so the boy wasn't just a cheap “feel sorry for everyone!” gag as Shamus argued. Is it all right -- or even necessary -- to do this every now and then? Thoughts? When is cheap drama OK, if it ever is, and when should it be avoided?