“Better Game Characters by Design” by Katherine Isbister

Isbister takes detailed look on the theories of social psychology and discussed their relevanve to game charcater design. The role of first impressions and stereotyping; psychological dimensions of personality; and how face, voice, body, and interpesonal relations influence our person perseption is described. The chapters about face, voice, and body seem very useful; they discuss in detail what kind of infomation they reveal about a person and how that could be exploitted in game design.

However, I am bit disappointed that there were not much references in text; sometimes it is impossible to termine wheather the thing Isbister is discussing is ‘fact’ supported by evidence or opinnion like the section the impact of gender-based attraction. She writes:

For example, (heterosexual) female players may not respond as strongly and positively to characters like Cortanoa of Halo, or Princess Yorda in ICO, who draw part of their appeal from being attractive women that the male player is drawn to visually. (Isbister, p. 118)

The remark made me think about Vogue or other magazines (or us television series): is it really so that attractive female models portraited in those magazines make them less attractive to the heterosexual female readers?

Further reading section pointed some material that I definetly should check:

  • McRae & Costa (1987). Validation of the five-factor model of personality across instruments and observers. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52(1).
  • Bachrorowsky (1999). Vocal expression and perception of emotion. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 8(2).
  • Perceiving affect from the voice and the face. Psychological Bulleting & Review, 3(2).
  • DePaulo & Friedman (1998). Nonverbal Communication. In Gilbert & Fiske (eds.) The Handbook of Social Psychology. Boston: McGraw-Hill Companies.

Story so far

Some work relating to my thesis has been presented at conferences or published in a book.

  • Lankoski Petri, Heliö Satu, Ekman Inger. Characters in Computer Games. Toward Understanding Interpretation and Desing in Level Up. Utrecth, Netherlands, 4-6 November, 2003. Available: http://www.digra.org/dl/display_html?chid=05087.10012.
  • Lankoski Petri. Character Design Fundamentals for Role-Playing Games in Montola Markus, Stenros Jaakko (eds.). Beyond Role and Play – tools, toys, and theory for harnessing the imagination Helsinki: Ropecon ry, 139-148, 2003. Available: http://www.ropecon.fi/brap/ch12.pdf.
  • Lankoski Petri. Building and Reconstructing Character. A Case Study of Silent Hill 3 in Changing Views: World in Play. Vancouver, Canada, June 16th-20th, 2005. Available http://mlab.uiah.fi/~plankosk/sh3-digra2005.pdf.