Lecturer in Game Design | PhD Student

Honours Blog

Anthropomorphism and Thomas Was Alone

Thomas Was Alone is a perfect example of a game which relies on base human instinct to manipulate core emotions. The game revolves around a group of shapes - rectangles and squares of varying sizes - as you play a platforming game which requires you to use these shapes to complete puzzles. Each shape has its own unique ability, thus already there is a link with humans: We are all of varying shapes, sizes and have our own strengths and weaknesses. Even without such a simple link to humanity, the mind may start anthropomorphising the shapes. The inclusion of this visual trait is to trigger the brain function which forms the relationship between the player and 'character'.

Another technique used by the game to create an emotional link between the player and the character is the use of a narrator. The narrator delivers small chunks of story from a third person perspective which describe the character's thoughts and feelings. The main character 'Thomas' begins his journey as a solitary rectangle in a minimalist environment, a shining beacon of colour in a world made from black and muted shades of darker colours. Straight from the beginning, the player's emotional connection with the rectangle is forged.

The small aspect of giving the object a name can generally be overlooked, but as soon as a name has been given to an object, the humanising of the object has already begun. In Forget-Me-Not I will look at creating an object which can have relatable traits, and give it a name. By doing so I will test the theory of whether anthropomorphising an inanimate object in a video game can have the same effects as in real life. I will attempt to create an engaging back story for this object and relate it to the main character on an emotional level.