Games with Heart

Designing interactive experiences that elicit emotion

Emotion from the Protagonist

In most stories, the character we sympathize most strongly with is the protagonist. As with all characters, it is the protagonist’s unique character traits and quirks that make him or her an object of sympathy and affection.

Emotion from other characters

A potentially easier path is to create characters other than the protagonist for the player to empathize with. Ideally it should also create characters for them to hate as well as love. Not just monsters who attack blindly, but cruel men who need killing badly.

(event-occurred:
(pick-up
(actor: Justin)
(object: Sword)
(2nd object: Table)))

Emotion from the Player.

Encouraging the player to act using feelings will be a difficult task. Most players are conditioned by their experience with other computer games to act with ruthless calculation. So what if a few people in your Sim City or Civilization game are miserable? As long as the city is prospering and growing, who cares about a few malcontents? While that’s the kind of hard choice a good leader must make, but for computer game players, there’s nothing hard about it at all.

See also

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