Computer Games and Emotions

Petri Lankoski

Authoritative version is published in Sageng, Fossheim & Larsen (eds.), The Philosophy of Computer Games, Springer, pp. 39–55,  DOI=10.1007/978-94-007-4249-9_4.

Introduction

An intriguing question in the philosophy of fiction is on how can we be moved by the fates of the fictional characters or how we fear a fictional monster? This question, in the context of literature and film, has been addressed, for example, by Lamarque (2004/1981), Carroll (1990, pp. 61–96), and Walton (1990, pp. 240–289). This same question is relevant in the context of computer games: how can players be afraid in the game events when obviously, for example, a monster in a horror game cannot threaten the players?

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Computer Games and Emotions

Update 2012/08/30:  the full text is available on my blog.

I have a chapter about emotions in computer games in The Philosophy of Computer Games book. Here the abstract of the chapter:

How players experience games emotionally is the central question in this essay. The answer varies and depends on the game. Yet, most of the actions in games are goal-driven. Cognitive emotion theories propose that goal status appraisals and emotions are connected, and this connection is used to formulate how goal-driven engagement works in the games. For example, fear is implied when the player’s goal of keeping the player character alive is under threat. This goal-driven engagement is not enough to explain all the emotions involved in gameplay. Empathy, reacting emotionally to an emotional expression is a potential source of emotions in character-based games. As such, the visual beauty of the environment and character can be pleasurable. Lastly, sounds and music can modulate the emotions of the player. For example, loud and fast music tend to correlate with emotions with high arousal. The emotional experience of playing is an amalgam of these different sources. Importantly, the emotional experience is not straightforwardly caused by the game but it depends on the players’ appraisal of the situation in the game.

In: J.R. Sageng et al. (eds.), The Philosophy of Computer Games, DOI 10.1007/978-94-007-4249-9_4.

The book contains following essays:

  1. Sageng et al:  General introduction
  2. Larsen: Introduction to Part I (Players and Play)
  3. Klevjer: Enter the Avatar
  4. Lankoski: Computer Games and Emotions
  5. Leino: Untangling Gameplay: An Account of Experience, Activity and Materiality within Computer Game Play
  6. Calleja: Erasing the Magic Circle
  7. Fossheim: Introduction to Part II (Play and Ethics)
  8. Sicart: Digital Games as Ethical Technologies
  9. Spence: Virtual Rape, Real Dignity
  10. Reynolds: Ethics and Practice in Virtual Worlds
  11. Briggle: The Ethics of Computer Games: a Character Approach
  12. Sageng: Introduction to part III (Games and Game Worlds)
  13. Tavinor: Videogames and Fictionalism
  14. Meskin and Robson: Fiction and fictional worlds in  Videogames
  15. Sageng: In-Game Action
  16. Asheim: Reality, Pretence and the Ludic Parenthesis
  17. Coppock: Are Computer Games Real?

Theory Lenses: Deriving Gameplay Design Patterns from Theories

Petri Lankoski, Staffan Björk

ACM, (2011). This is authors version of the work. It is posted here by permission of ACM for your personal use. Not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in MindTrek’11 (Tampere ) http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2181037.2181041.

ABSTRACT

Gameplay design patterns are semiformal interconnected descriptions features of gameplay. While most previous patterns have been identified through analyzing existing games, this paper proposed how patterns can be identified using theories as starting points. More specifically, we propose three different approaches to harvesting gameplay design patterns: 1) using theories as analysis foci, 2) distilling patterns from theories, and 3) using theories to understand the consequences of having or not having patterns present in a game design. The three approaches are presented together with examples of their use, and based upon this the concept of Theory Lenses as an analytical tool is introduced as a way of allowing theories independent of their research field to be applied to research on gameplay design.

Categories and Subject Descriptors

K.8.0 [General]: Games

General Terms

Design, Theory.

Keywords

Gameplay design patterns, gameplay design, design patterns, theory lenses, game research

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Joystickit kuumina PDF

Markku Reunanen has made our (Reunanen, Lankoski, Heinonen) chapter in Digirakkaus 2 available as PDF. The chapter can downloaded at http://www.kameli.net/~marq/joystickit_kuumina.pdf (in Finnish).

Figure shows how our informants remembered certain titles from 1980 to 1995. When we posted questionnaire we missed some notorious  games in US, such as Swedish Erotica series, that would have been really interesting to know how they have being around in Finland (our qualitative data suggest that they were not very know), but maybe we will do a followup study later.

Introduction to special issue: experiencing games: games, play and players

Petri Lankoski, Södertörn University

Annika Waern, Stockholm University

Anne Mette Thorhauge, University of Copenhagen

Harko Verhagen, Stockholm University

This is a reprint version of the introduction article for special issue in the Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds 3: 3, DOI: 10.1386/jgvw.3.3.175_7. The text contains DOI links to the special issue articles on Intellect site.

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Player Character Engagement in Computer Games

My article  Player Character Engagement in Computer Games came out. Here is the abstract:

This article argues how players can control a player character influence interpretation and facilitate engagement within a game. Engagement with player characters can be goal-related or empathic, where goal-related engagement depends on affects elicited by goal-status evaluations whereas characters facilitate empathic engagement. The concepts of recognition, alignment, and allegiance are used to describe how engagement is structured in games. Recognition describes aspects of character interpretation. Alignment describes what kind of access players have to a character’s actions, knowledge, and affects. Allegiance describes how characters elicit sympathy or antipathy through positive or negative evaluation of the character.

Keywords: game characters, player character, engagement, empathy, goals

Games and Culture July 2011 vol. 6 no. 4 291-311, doi: 10.1177/1555412010391088

Character-Driven Game Design & Lies and Seductions

Lies and Seductions

The game can be downloaded for free at http://www.liesandseductions.com or get with the Character-Driven Game Design. OSX and Windows versions available. Works also in Linux via Wine.

Lies and Seductions is a single player game about seduction, lies, and betrayal.

Are you able to guide Abby to seduce a rock star, Chris, promised to stay virgin untill marriage? In order to success you need to gather dirty little secrets, use those secrets in your advantage, and make an impression on Chris.

Features:

  • four seduceable characters
  • flirt, mislied, eavesdrop, and pump information
  • persuade characters to help you to reach the goal
  • play Texas hold’em poker
  • dance to impress
  • non-player characters forms opionnions based on your choices they perceive
  • three different endings

Character-Driven Game Design: A Design Approach and Its Bases In Character Engagement

| Buy the book | Free PDF |

Back cover says:

In the Character-Driven Game Design, Petri Lankoski presents a theory that illuminates how game characters contribute to shaping the playing experience. Based on this theory he provides design tools for character-based games which utilize methods and theories derived from dramatic writing and game research.

“The use of Lajos Egri’s bone structure for a three dimensional-character and of Murray Smith’s three levels of imaginative engagement with characters allows the candidate to expose the full complexity of the imaginary persons represented and controlled in a single-player game. What makes his design-center approach even more interesting is that gameplay is an integral part of it.”
Bernard Perron, Associate Professor, Université de Montréal

“Lankoski does a great job laying out the theory of primary interest to him, and making the case for the need to tether character design to game design more tightly than has been the case in the past. Certainly, too, putting attention to social networks of characters and finding useful design patterns to guide this level of game design is also of great value, and underexplored in the field.”
Katherine Isbister, Associate Professor, Polytechnic Institute of New York University

CONTENTS

List of Publications9
Acknowledgements10
Introduction11
– Characters as Facilitators of the Playing Experience?12
– The Context of This Study13
– Game Design14
– Game Research15
– Cognitive Sciences and Film Studies drawing on Cognitive Sciences16
– Dramatic Writing for Theatre and Film17
– Goals18
– Methods18
– Qualitative Analysis19
– Gameplay Design Patterns19
– Structure of This Thesis20
Game Characters21
– Understanding Other People21
– Mimicry and Empathy22
– Person Schema22
– Player Characters23
Game and Gameplay Design29
– Game Design Approaches29
– Game Design and Character Design30
– Missing Link: From Character Design to Gameplay Design33
Character Engagement and Game Design35
– Characters in Computer Games: Toward Understanding Interpretation and Design35
– Player Character Engagement in Computer Games35
– Gameplay Design Patterns for Believable Non-Player Characters36
– Gameplay Design Patterns for Social Networks and Conflicts37
– Lies and Seductions38
– Character-Driven Game Design: Characters, Conflict, and Gameplay38
Conclusions41
– Characters and the Playing Experience41
– Game and Character Design44
– Concluding Remarks46
References47
Appendix 1: Research Material57
Appendix 2: Gameplay Design Patterns61
– Actions Have Social Consequences61
– Character Defining Actions62
– Detective Structure63
– Enforced Character Behavior64
– Faction64
– Information Passing65
– Internal Conflict66
– Internal Rivalry67
– Loyalty67
– Melodramatic Structure68
– Outcast69
– Player-Designed Character70
– Social Gatekeeper70
– Social Maintenance71
– Social Norms71
– Traitor72
– Trait Regulated Behavior73
– References74
Appendix 3: Lies and Seductions Credits75
Articles
– Article 176
– Article 292
– Article 3116
– Article 4132
– Article 5156
– Article 6162
Abstract182