As the emotional effects of video games become more and more apparent, the games themselves are diversifying to occupy different emotional “niches”… Many of today’s popular games offer pure “visceral” emotional experiences. With realistic graphics, and atmospheric sound, these games are highly emotionally arousing in the unconscious sense. Stellar gameplay and engaging storylines appeal to the more conscious behavioural and reflective emotional levels.
But game developers are also interested in eliciting emotional responses like happiness and love, while giving players options as to just how emotionally aroused they want to be. Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendo’s top game designer, wants game designers to focus more on triggering positive emotions in players than on creating the lust for blood and gore.
I always want that first reaction to be emotion, to be positive — to give a sense of satisfaction, glee… Certain obstacles may temporarily raise feelings of suspense, competition, even frustration. But we always want that final result, that final emotion, to be a positive one.
Similarly, Peter Molyneux, designer of Fable 3 is putting emotional experience at the forefront by attempting to elicit love from players through the introduction of relationships, individualized pets and even children that resemble the player.
Everybody is talking about emotion, story, engagement and narrative… We have tried to approach it in a different way. We are going to explore love.
Designers have also created something for players seeking less emotional arousal, who don’t want to be on the edge of their seats. Games like Hotel Dusk are more interactive visual novels than games. The player moves through the “game” in a fashion that is more like how one would read a book. It’s encouraging to see the creation of games that fill a variety of emotional niches.
For more on the emotional effects of video games, see:
Video Games That Improve Emotional Health
Video Games Provide More Than Just Fun
Games That Respond to Our Emotions (Part 1)
Games That Respond to Our Emotions (Part 2)