Game Development Reference
The upside is: we must question off-the-cuff emotional reasoning.
When someone says he disliked a game because of the visuals, or the story,
or the controls, don't take him at face value. Don't expect to understand
how a game is affecting players just by looking at it.
There are ways to partially decode the puzzle. We can use systematic
methods like playtesting or statistical metrics analysis to observe some of
the effects of small changes. But even with these evidence-based methods,
we can never fully understand a game because we can never watch the
internal workings of a human mind—even our own. Instead, we have to
tease out the mind's emotional triggers by theorizing at a distance. We're
like a group of priests trying to read the will of a capricious god from
eclipses and chicken guts. And like such priests, we often get it wrong.
This makes game design very difficult.
The Basic Emotional Triggers
Let's take a look at some of the most common emotional triggers.
emotion tHRougH leaRning
Think back to a time when a hard concept finally clicked in your mind.
Your eyes light up, your mouth curls into a smile, and the unmistakable
expression of epiphany leaves your lips: “Ahhhhhhh!” Learning feels good.
The more important a lesson is to a human value, the more we're driven
to learn it.
Puppies have an instinctive drive to play-fight. It looks playful, but the
reason they're doing it is deadly serious. Prehistoric puppies that didn't
play-fight grew up into unskilled fighters. They thus failed to reproduce as
well as the play-fighters and were weeded out of the gene pool. For dogs, an
early predisposition to mirthful play-fighting is a survival strategy in the
heartless game of evolution.
The same applies to people. We have a natural desire to learn, but that
desire isn't indiscriminate.
The skills that we're instinctively driven to master are the ones that
helped our ancestors reproduce.
Think of the games kids play. They run and jump to master kines-
thetic skills. They play house to learn social roles. They engage in mock
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