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Ketchaval

Make an emotional game?

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What would you say are the factors that make games quite unemotional (in terms of empathy with the characters, caring about what happens in the gameworld etc)? What helps to make a game more emotionally involving? See here for some more discussion on this subject http://www.buzzcut.com/article.php?story=20031010040723368

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I wish i knew the answer to that one, i could prolly make a fair amount of profit if i did. The problem with getting emotionaly involved with a game is that everyone will react differently to diffent aspects in game, for example, the game i got most emotionally involved with was FF7. Especially around the start of the game where it is completely story driven, because your in a way close to all the characters in game there is an emotionally response when something shocking happens. But apart from story involvement i cant really see a direct way the designer can have an influence on the emotions of the player

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Quote:
Original post by doorstop
The problem with getting emotionaly involved with a game is that everyone will react differently to diffent aspects in game, for example, the game i got most emotionally involved with was FF7.



I couldn't have said it better myself. [smile] Appealing to the player emotionally is not a trivial task, but nevertheless it's something I'm going to attempt in my game. I had an amazing emotional response from playing FFVIII (the only game that has ever made me cry). I think I'm just a sap for corny love stories. [lol] Runner-up would have to be FFVI, where I could really identify how the characters felt and why they acted the way they did.


So here's just a guess, but maybe the first step to accomplishing this is to develop your characters well. After all, which would make you more sorrowful: hearing some random person you never knew half-way around the world die, or hearing that a close relative/friend of yours has died? If you can make the player feel like they are close to the characters in your game, I think that might be the first step through the door. [grin]

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Conveying Emotion
Quote:
Original post by Ketchaval
What helps to make a game more emotionally involving?
You might want to narrow the topic, different sets of techniques are used based on the emotion you want to convey, whether you want to deliver it thematically or through gameplay, and whether the game is single player or multiplayer. Take the list of basic emotions:

Affection, Lust, Longing, Cheerfulness, Zest, Contentment, Pride, Optimism, Enthrallment, Relief, Surprise, Irritation, Exasperation, Rage, Disgust, Envy, Torment, Suffering, Sadness, Disappointment, Shame, Neglect, Sympathy, Horror, Nervousness

For single player game:

Easy
Lust, Cheerfulness, Zest, Contentment, Pride,
Optimism, Relief, Irritation, Exasperation,
Disgust, Disappointment, Horror, Nervousness

Medium
Longing, Surprise, Rage, Envy, Shame, Sympathy

Hard
Affection, Enthrallment, Torment, Suffering,
Sadness, Neglect


For Multiplayer game:
- emotions that the designer can convey through game rules.

Easy
Lust, Longing, Cheerfulness, Zest, Contentment,
Pride, Optimism, Enthrallment, Relief, Surprise,
Irritation, Exasperation, Rage, Disgust, Envy,
Disappointment, Shame, Neglect, Sympathy

Medium
Affection, Torment, Horror, Nervousness

Hard
Suffering, Sadness


These are relative difficulties. Game as a medium includes several other media. In general, if you can create an emotion using a medium that your game includes, your game can also convey the same emotion, given that gameplay does not distract the player. (i.e. the player is supposed to feel sad, but because of the item that he knows he will get afterwards, he feels excited.)

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I find a lot of games are unemotional because the story only really written with the main character in mind, and having the rest of the cast being stereotypical, static and two dimensional characters. You need to give the player the felling of friends and foes full of human emotion and intricacies instead of just tools to help in battle and plot lubricant.
Like instead of the villain just being a force to oppose to protagonists ask yourself what kind of person is the villain, what motivates them and why are they doing what there doing (I find one of the most emotional things is a villain you can partially relate to).

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I find that really good music, if it's been played at the right moment, can make me very emotional. I don't show it much (actually it doesn't happen that much), but nonetheless, it's still there. I can easily feel sadness, excitement, and neglect through music.

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Quote:
Original post by Ketchaval
What would you say are the factors that make games quite unemotional (in terms of empathy with the characters, caring about what happens in the gameworld etc)?


I cease caring about a game, the world, the characters, and the storyline, when I know that the designer thinks it's more important for me to play the game his / her way than the way I want to play it. Freelancer is a perfect example of this. The game has a reputation system which you can get quite involved in trying to figure out and build up.

Then the storyline, supposedly for the sake of drama, wipes all your progress clean. Similar games that have only one solution, particularly those that are ridiculously difficult (as several of the Freelancer end missions were) prompt me to think, "okay, idiot designer, why don't you come to my house and play the game and I'll just watch your precious cutscenes."

(btw, a good signs that the game creator devalues your experience over their presentation of the game: Non-skippable cutscenes. A producer once told me, "dammit, we paid good money for that art and dialog, they're going to watch it." I kid you not.)

Quote:

What helps to make a game more emotionally involving?


Validation. A game that allows and acknowledges the impact that I've made on the world. I'm not just following someone elses plans, what I think matters to some degree, and the choices I make have an effect.

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Several very good points have come up so far, the ones I'd like to focus on are. Estok's point that in order to have a proper discussion we'd need to limit the topic to specific emotions/feelings, ie. the feeling of accomplishment, horror, tension. Kaze's point that many in-game characters are one dimensional at best, and only exist for hackneyed plot / gameplay reasons. They don't present much subtlety, or emotional depth. And this stops us identifying / bonding with them on an emotional basis. Wavinator's point about interfering with the player and not allowing them to play as they want to / shoving cut-scenes down their throat ( or long codex conversations Metal Gear Solid style).


On a personal note I was thinking that to help someone bond with another character (affection), then you could show them in a bunch of different lights. And involve the player with them, ie. have the PLAYER compete in mini-games / games of chance vs. the other character. Or steal / borrow something they care about and not give it back on time. What he ate all the cornflakes and didn't replace them? The git! This could work both ways ie. trying to make a positive bond with the player / or a negative bond where the player doesn't like them. It would also help to flesh out their character more and give them a feeling of "an independent life".

EDIT: One last thing for the moment, Ico had the great idea of removing all the onscreen clutter like health bars etc. That stop you concentrating on the characters and reinforce the fact that they are just a bunch of procedures (ie. you see that they have two health points out of five).

[Edited by - Ketchaval on May 15, 2005 6:59:26 PM]

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Quote:
Original post by Kaze
... story only really written with the main character in mind, and having the rest of the cast being stereotypical, static and two dimensional characters.


I really have to agree with this. Nothing kills a story more than stereotypical characters.

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Quote:
Original post by MickePicke
Quote:
Original post by Kaze
... story only really written with the main character in mind, and having the rest of the cast being stereotypical, static and two dimensional characters.


I really have to agree with this. Nothing kills a story more than stereotypical characters.


I concur completely. One of the reasons I feel that FFVI was so emotional is that it developed not only the main characters (which there were *a lot* of), but even some of the NPCs as well. (

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