Lecturer in Game Design | PhD Student

Honours Blog

Posts tagged Dissertation
More Research Sources
  • Journal of Consumer Research, Vol 38, No.1 (June 2011), pp. 94-107 - Sarah Kim and Ann L. McGill
  • Empathy - Catherine Belzung
  • The Advertising Business: Operations Creativity Media Planning Integrated Communications, Chapter 18: Emotion and Advertising  - John Phillip Jones (Esther Thorson)
  • The Handbook of Emotion and Memory: Research and Theory - SA Christianson
Theories of Emotion

To find out how to create an emotive experience for the player, I first have to understand the theories behind emotion. There are many  recognised theories behind emotion, some of which are: The Evolutionary Theories,  the Cannon-Bard Theory, Schacter and Singer's Two-Factor Theory, Cognitive Appraisal and the James-Lange Theory.

All of the above stated theories carry their own argument as to what 'emotion' is. The theories that interest me most are the Evolutionary Theories and Cognitive Appraisal. The Evolutionary Theories pioneered by Charles Darwin in the 1870's stated that emotions evolved to increase communication and survivability. It is the more recent evolutionary theories that discuss the 7 primary emotions; happiness, sadness, surprise, anger, contempt, disgust and fear. These are widely regarded as the universal 'base' emotions. The emotions are considered to be innate responses to stimuli, with more complex emotions resulting from mixtures and levels of intensity of a base emotion.

Cognitive Appraisal was a theory by Richard Lazarus which takes the view of how expressed emotion will differ between different people. This means that two people may experience the same environment, object etc. with differing emotional responses.

Dissertation & Honours Book List

Some of the books I will be using for researching creating emotion in games are as follows:

  • Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals - Salen and Zimmerman
  • Creating Emotion in Games - David Freeman
  • Emotion and the Structure of Narrative Film: Film as an Emotion Machine - Ed S. Tan
  • In-Game Immersion to Incorporation - Gordon Calleja
  • Game Feel: A Designer's Guide to Virtual Sensation - Steve Swink
  • Game Theory and Experimental Games - Andrew Coleman
  • A Casual Revolution - Jesper Juul

| have not yet fully analysed each book, so some texts may not be as relevant as I originally thought. I will post my analysis of the books as well as relevant quotes for my dissertation or honours projects in later blog posts.

Linking Dissertation with Honours Project

Originally I intended this honours blog to only reflect the physical work required for the creation of Forget-Me-Not, but I have now decided to include some details from my dissertation research in as I feel they will be relevant to explaining some techniques I will use when developing my game.

My dissertation will be about creating more complex emotion in games such as empathy whilst at the same time exploring the more primal emotions like fear, aggression, happiness, sadness. Triggering the more primal emotions is regarded as a simpler matter, as these instinctual emotions come from relatable experiences.

Take for instance Ikea's 2002 advert by Spike Jonze: The small film depicts a lamp being replaced by a new one, due to clever visual portrayal of the lamp, it triggers a feeling of empathy for the lamp.

The reason the viewer connects with the lamp due to the relatable emotions that come with loneliness and abandonment. The aspect of this commercial I found most interesting is how it projects the viewer's feelings for an inanimate object and challenges why humans become emotionally attached to material objects. It can be argued that it is human nature to anthropomorphise objects due to an overly developed sense of empathy. Especially with objects that we interact with on a frequent basis: If you have a locket that was given to you from a loved one, you wear it every day. An emotional bond forms between yourself and the locket. When you lose the locket, you lose part of your identity, thus engaging an emotional response.

As well as playing on our natural instinct to anthropomorphise objects, the use of clever camera work and slight movement of the lamp between shots fools the mind into believing the object is sentient. The camera angles depict what the lamp 'sees' thus making the viewer relate more to the object and trigger primitive emotions of sadness.

To relate this to Forget-Me-Not, I want to find out how to trigger these emotional connections with objects so that the player will feel how the character should feel about an object they hold dear to them. I especially want to play on the sense of loss, but less depicting the loss of the object, but the loss of the connection between the character/player and the object.