Design & Emotion Blog

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Learning from games: a language for designing emotions

Over at Johny Holland, Joe Lamantia wrote an interesting article called “Learning From Games: A Language for Designing Emotions”.

Great insights, as Joe confirms that we cannot design the emotion itself, but we can design for emotion through the mechanics that offer choices to players:

Of course, game designers cannot ‘directly’ create the emotions people feel while playing (at least, not until mind control technology is effectively ‘productized’ by some well-meaning corporation or government).  Instead, game creators “design the mechanics that offer players choices. It is in the making of these choices that players feel the emotions coming from game play. It is this new way of creating emotion that separates games from other media.”

Also interesting is the way Joe relates game mechanics to play experience, through choices and the emotions they evoke:

For example, placing the collaboration mechanic in a game by design allows players to choose whether or not to cooperate with one another. Their choices yield feelings of generosity or gratitude (or perhaps schadenfreude at what happens when others suffer for choosing not to cooperate!), contributing to a game experience of enhanced (or not!) relationships with friends and other players.

Joe refers to the four kinds of fun that are described by Nicole Lazzaro: Hard fun, Easy fun, People fun and Serious fun. A game that touches all four of these kinds, is more likely to be successful:

Designers cannot simply paint by numbers, because players do not feel emotions in a linear and tightly compartmented way. Rather, “emotions are fluid and braided over time, one emotion blending into the next.”  Accordingly, games that succeed usually offer players experiences that blend three or all four types of fun, emphasizing them differently throughout the game experience.

Read the complete article at Johny

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