Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Constructing Artificial Emotions: A Design Experiment

My latest essay on emotion in games is up on Gamasutra. There are pretty pictures about brains. You can read it here.

It asks that simple, innocent question,"What can we do to make games evoke emotions?" The answers are more about applying the lessons of experimental psychology than the 300 hot tricks of screenwriting.

While I was looking into this topic, I read an essay in Scientific American on 'dangerous ideas' and it got me thinking about the sort of 'unthinkable' ideas in game design. This essay contains a smattering of them and I'm curious which ones you find intriguing.
  • "Games are great at causing emotions."
  • "You can replicate meaningful religious experiences with a game."
  • "Most media such as books, movies and poetry are far more about our past experiences than any inherent value of the work. "
  • "Isolating gamers from the outside world is a highly effective strategy for maintaining service contracts."
  • "In order to increase the impact of games, we must engage the body as well as the mind." The Wii Fit is just the start, baby. That slack faced hardcore couch potato experience is about to become an experience for dinosaurs (fat, emotionally stunted dinosaurs at that)
Does it hurt to say such things out loud? I have great faith in the ability of science and reality to weed out the ideas that contain no substance. Whether any of these concepts hold water will be directly up to the efforts of talented and innovative game designers. But what if one or two of them held a kernel of truth? My god, what a brilliant future lies ahead.

I am quite looking forward to your thoughts on the essay. Grab a mug of tea, find a comfy chair and dig in.

Enjoy!
Danc.

Constructing Artificial Emotions: A Design Experiment
http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/1992/constructing_artificial_emotions_.php

"What's the Big Idea" by Steve Mirsky
http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=42462F59-E7F2-99DF-3AC7F5B54F363D63&chanID=sa006&colID=15