Game Development Reference
In World of Warcraft , two players meet while defeating a monster to-
gether. One invites the other to join a guild. Stranger becomes friend, and
alone becomes together.
In Half-Life , the player character is trapped in a giant underground lab-
oratory full of monsters invading from another dimension. Occasionally,
he meets other survivors—scientists and security guards—who may ac-
company him for a time. Finding these allies and losing them are both
emotionally gripping events because of the shift from alone to together
In some cases, the changing human value exists only inside the game.
Other times, it can be real. For example, gambling games create emo-
tion around changes in real wealth. The action of playing craps is fairly
boring—players merely roll dice over and over. But when money is riding
on the outcome, every roll becomes a nail-biter since it implies a shift be-
tween poverty and wealth.
Games can even provoke emotion by physically threatening players.
The experimental video game PainStation plays exactly like Pong , but it's
far more emotionally intense because every failure is followed by a me-
chanical slap on the hand or an electrical shock. The tiny moving ball on the
screen carries a lot of emotional weight when it can physically punish you.
What's emotionally relevant about an event is not the event itself, but
the changes in human values implied by that event. The more important
the human value and the more it changes, the greater the emotion.
Consider the event of losing a pawn in chess. In the early game, this
may be a minor concern. The implications of losing early pawns are that
you have fewer pieces and your pawn structure may be weaker. But in
the late game, one pawn may be the difference between victory and loss.
If you unexpectedly lose the pawn that was guarding your king, you feel
dismayed because the game was just lost. The event is the same in each
case, but the implications are different because one represents a small
nuisance, and the other is a shift from victory to defeat.
Even events that seem to be very minor in themselves can be emo-
tional if they have important implications. Consider the act of scouting
in strategy games. Scouting is no more than seeing an object. It creates
nothing, destroys nothing, and moves nothing. By itself it is almost a
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