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Subliminal Messaging

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Alright, I had this interesting idea with questionable legality. The Blair Witch Project was a major motion picture, but it did make use of subliminal messages. I think the reason they got away with this is because they didn''t use it for commercial purposes. Does anybody know anything else? But anyway, in a horror game (lets assume 3D), it might be interesting to flash images of huge, evil monsters that appear IN CONTEXT, like Tyler was always appearing in FIGHT CLUB (go rent it now). If you became suddenly *aware* of the giant monster peeking around the corner that really isn''t there, the game would have you paralyzed with fear. Very cool. Why cool? because there are two ways to make a game scary right now, short of this idea. One, you make it gorssly hard, so that you die. This works (kinda) in examples like DOOM, but the player quickly becomes jaded and keeps his cool instead of wetting his pants. Second, you rob the player of control, al la Resident Evil. This is good because it makes use of horror cinematic technique, but bad because, well, the controls suck. So in a free roaming 3D game, this could make for some scary $hit. So what are the legality and technology issues?

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I can''t speak for the legality of it, but I''ve actually done something like that for my psychology project final semester of my senior year. I wrote a break-out style game in three versions; one didn''t have any messages (the control), another had positive messages, and the third negative. I wanted to see if subliminal messages actually influenced the quality of a subject''s play. I think it ~kind of~ worked, but my data collection function was buggy, so I''ll never know for sure
Anyway, the main technical problem I had was that, even though my crude game''s framerate hit the monitor''s update threshold, the messages were still perceptible to the naked eye! I didn''t really know what to do about that, though I partially solved the problem by making the message color nearly identical to the background color.
Anyway, if your images were truly beneath the threshold of human perception, guess it would be legal as long as you didn''t tell anyone

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The project I would be implemtenting this for is a BIG project. Possibly a DVD release somewhere way down the road. So the frame rate may be going fast enough by then to avoid that. However, anyone on a low-end machine would likely get a lot of "Hey, what the hell was that!"s.

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Quote: >>>... there are two ways to make a game scary right now, short of this idea. One, you make it gorssly hard, so that you die. This works (kinda) in examples like DOOM, but the player quickly becomes jaded and keeps his cool instead of wetting his pants. Second, you rob the player of control, al la Resident Evil. This is good because it makes use of horror cinematic technique, but bad because, well, the controls suck. <<<

Any designer who uses one or both of these methods deserves to be slapped around with a large trout. These are terrible design ideas, and would only result in a *very* frustrating game. There are many other much better ways to make games creepy.

(BTW, cool idea for the subliminal stuff, although I think there might be a couple of laws against that. Perhaps you should check with a lawyer).

--TheGoop

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What about Silent Hill?? The controls were just like RE, but it was free-roaming 3D so it handled better (IMO). But what made the game CREEPY was all of the really freaky stuff in it ... it wasn''t just monsters popping out at you but really SCARY SCARY stuff. THAT''S a good horror game in my book. The subliminal messaging seems very clever, and I bet there is some way to implement it that is legal.

Alex
Atypical Interactive
www.atypical-interactive.com

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Umm... Not aure if it will help too much with the legalities but check Wired.com, they did an article like a week or two ago about sublimal messages being played on DVD''s when a certain mode is on (don''t remember the details), but they were all positive, for example, they said during a scene where a person was drinking alcohol they said "Don''t drink and drive"

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Thanks for the compliment goop, but also, I think NOTHING is bad in game design so long as it is what the player wants. That''s why Resident Evil can do no wrong by me. I don''t like it, but the people who play it do. And so it is good at what it does.

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Oh, yeah, and let''s assume there is really scary content too... but we want to go the extra mile, y''know? Maybe a disclaimer would get us through the legality? But how to phrase it so as to not give EVERYTHING away...

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I think that maybe if you put in some sort of: "Suggestive Theme" label and slap on a standard "may cause epilepsy" warning you''ll be set

Alex
Atypical Interactive
www.atypical-interactive.com

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Atypical, I couldn''t help but notice a faint flashing when I read that last post... I wonder what it could have been?
=)

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Oh, yeah, and suggestive themes means something VERY different. (bown chicka bown booow... bow bow...)

=)

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You want scary games?
Take a look at Alone In the Dark part 1. (Not 2 and 3!!).
Part 1 was freakin'' scary man!!! DOn''t know what made it scary (besides some really cool shocking scenes) however.

Best ever!

Jaap Suter

____________________________
Mmmm, I''ll have to think of one.

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A good way to make a game scary is to make it''s setting scarey. Creepy music. Some weird Sounds & FX. Etc. What makes a horror movie frightening? It''s setting.

Mariorox

the Cartoonist

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I'm sorry to razz on people, 'cause I've been doing it myself, but I really want to stick to the subliminal message thing. There are other forums for what makes horror games scary, and other techniques. Your suggestions are appreciated, but I want to keep this post readable in case anyone does know about his issue.

=)
Sick of these emoticons yet?

=p

Edited by - landfish on 5/4/00 9:43:08 PM

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I wanna know how something that you can''t actually "see" or hear or even percieve at all actually affect the viewer. I know from my own personal experience of being a human being if I can''t see or read something I''m not going to have any reaction to it.

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It''s proven that you don''t need to see it for it to affect you. Subliminal refers to subconsciousness. The message is displayed in such a way that the brain cannot see it, yet the mind still registers it. Coke was the first to use this widely, with a commercial at the box office a LONG time ago that actually had a message which read "Eat more popcorn, buy more coke" or something stupid. It was joint ventured with the cinema companies to attempt to use it to increase sales.. and it worked. Then they made laws against it Or at least for using it in that respect.
What happens is the eye and brain can roughly pick out 25 frames per second and tell them appart. Any faster than that and the motion appears to be a solid moving picture.. thus motion pictures were born.. still images which played at 32 frames per second, well above the nessicary ammount to fool the brain. This insured against people with good perception, and as far as I know, no one can pick out 30 frames per second. It''s all very interesting in terms of how our mind works.. and how we see things. For instance, the lines on the middle of the road when you''re driving at 80 look to be 10 feet long, while they''re actually 3 feet. Perception in terms of judgement of distance being acturate, the line is actually appearing warped to your mind. This is because the brain cannot process the motion of the line, as it''s moving too fast. Thus it appears to be a long blurred line.
This is also good for understanding slow motion and such, and why we can do things like that in the matrix although.. that''s best discussed further in email if you wish.
As far as Landfish''s idea.. i believe it''d be deemed illegal. The reasons would be the sheer chance of accidently causing someone''s death. Not directly.. not by saying "go kill yourself" but by doing something like scaring the shizzit outta someone till they get a gun and blast the mailman when he comes over next.. simply cause in your game the mailman turned into some hideous monster and your subliminal messaging read "do it! do it! kill him!" or something like that. It''s a very tough question, and i believe you''d have to publish a visable warning about this. As well as give examples in the manual of the things said.. perhaps even full disclosure of all scenes with subliminal messaging.
I''d deffinately ask a lawyer first.. someone who would know. I might actually trek to our school''s law library, where we have a free law clinic where you can get help with issues like this.

J

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Ok, Well.. I asked someone who would know and I was told that ALL subliminal messaging is illegal. The reason for this is that the psycological effects and side-effects of subliminal messaging still aren''t fully known. Even a harmless subliminal side effect could have a long term psycological effects that we''ve yet to discover, so it''s been deemed as illegal to use in any way, unless you''re doing it to yourself.. i suppose they can''t stop that

Anyways.. just thought you might like to know that it''s a futile quest right now.. but a really cool idea Think about it in any game.. wargames having ones to pump up your adrenaline.. etc Oh well.. not yet!

J

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quote:
Original post by Landfish
Why cool? because there are two ways to make a game scary right now, short of this idea. One, you make it gorssly hard, so that you die. This works (kinda) in examples like DOOM, but the player quickly becomes jaded and keeps his cool instead of wetting his pants. Second, you rob the player of control, al la Resident Evil. This is good because it makes use of horror cinematic technique, but bad because, well, the controls suck.


You thought Doom was grossly hard?? After just a little practice, there was virtually no room you couldn''t just run into with guns blazing, sidestep around a bit, and mow everything down. But I was always too scared to play that way I guess perceptions vary from player to player.

And I thought Resident Evil was laughable, not scary, but there you go.

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It becomes scary when you fear for your life. You can fry his brain as much as you like, but if he doesn''t give a damn, he doesn''t give a damn.

However, that could have people pissing all over themselves if they were scared anyways .


The_Minister
1C3-D3M0N Interactive

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A couple of things. First, I believe there is a loophole regarding the use of IMAGES rather than messages. My bad, I know.
I was considering flashing Images in context on the screen, not messages (i KNOW that would be illegal). But if mainstream hollywood movies like Blair Witch or Fight Club can do it without a warning, why not a game?

(For the record, I was not entertained by either ResEvil nor Doom, much less scared. The second ResEvil did give me a jump or two, I must concede...)

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I''ll ask about the images.. not sure there Interesting idea though. Clair witch didn''t really scare me.. it wa more or less stupid throughout most of it. ::sigh:: alas.. they''re still wanting to make more.

J

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Wonder if you could half second interrupt the player in a horror game by showing a full screen image that was perceptable. Think Stir of Echos when Kevin Bacon is walking and having flashbacks at the same time. Some sort of cinematic effect like that tied to the story could be enough. This clearly wouldn''t violate the laws because it was perceptible to the naked eye. Used correctly I think it could be done without spoiling game play. It might even enhance gameplay and storyline. *shrug* Really just talking out loud.

Kressilac

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From what ive been taught in College from Psyc and Eng all subliminals are banned. However it is interesting to know what some advertisers, especially beer companies put into there adverts. If an ad has some ice, the chance of something ''suggestive'' airbrushed in there is 99%. Without fully knowing that the images are there they are considered subliminal. These ice images arent apparent to the naked eye yet there in there.
For example, my English teacher had a student a few years back that was an air brush artist for hire. The student showed my teacher what she was told to airbrush into the ice and shadows of a beer advert. THe words fuck and cunt were brushed into the shadows, and male ''parts'' were put throuought the ice. If thats legal, then images in a game could very well be ok.

I think ive confused myself even more now.

PEACE
GAZZ

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Kresilac(sp?), you are my personal hero. That idea was so cool, and I'm giong to use it, so please don't sue me. Also. the beer ice thing is pretty crazy too. Thanks.

BTW, all of these edits are on your name, Kres, which I can't ssem to spell right. Oh, well.
Edited by - Landfish on 5/5/00 4:49:04 PM

Edited by - Landfish on 5/5/00 4:52:37 PM

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To make a scene suspensefull you could do something like have shadows move or dissapear. You wouldn''t notice it right away, but you''d know something happened. Something would be "off".

Also, if you did want to do subliminal images, etc. while keeping the fps high enough to ensure it remains subliminal, you''d just render 2 frames in memory, the first with the image, the second without. Then you''d just swap the images in the next 2 vertical retrace interrupts. That''ll give you a good 60+ fps for a short burst.

E:cb woof!

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