Let’s review what we’ve covered so far.
Each of these techniques attempts to use applied psychology to evoke artificial emotions. This is a fundamentally different tactic than you find used by most novelists, scriptwriters or musicians. It is worth exploring further. Instead of looking at emotion in media as a reflection of the artist’s internal muse, we can treat the player’s emotion as a system that we can model, interact with, and through the use of strong feedback systems, push toward desired states.
To simplify the situation immensely,
most media, be it music, movies or books taps into emotion by rehashing
pre-existing experiences. Games, though they may fall back on
rehashed experiences occasionally, are uniquely capable of creating
new emotionally powerful experiences. In a novel, you can read
about someone falling in love. In an MMOG, you can actually fall
in love. Real experiences generate vivid, new emotions.
Here is a thought. When
trying to create emotion in your players, tone down with the fixation
on Hollywood, camera techniques and in-game narrative. It isn’t
our unique strength as a medium. Instead, explore what would happen
if we, as designers, actively attempted to create and manipulate the
social, psychological and physical environments of our players in order
to induce artificial emotions. Toss the storyboards and scripts.
Game design becomes an exercise not so dissimilar from the movie The
Truman Show. You provide the carefully balanced system that sets
up the appropriate physiological states and cognitive labels. The players
react with predictable, measurable human drama.
In this brave new world of emotional experiences, you design interactive systems that play the player like an instrument. Except instead of tunes, they are belting out tears.