Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
But games have another way of creating character arcs: we can have
the game generate them on the fly. For example, in a game of Left 4 Dead ,
three survivors of a zombie apocalypse watch an ally slowly bleed out
within sight of the safe room as the monsters lurk nearby. In a game of
The Sims , a husband cheats on his wife with a younger woman and gets
caught in the act. In Dwarf Fortress , a dwarf frustrated by a lack of beer
goes on a rampage, murdering three miners before being put down. All
these events have occurred in these games, but none of them was authored
directly by the designers. Rather, they emerged during play from interac-
tions between game mechanics.
Character arcs also feed a special kind of learning hunger: we love
learning about our peers. We're particularly interested in the struggles of
others, because it is only during conflict that a person's inner values and
abilities are revealed. The more intense the conflict they face, the deeper
we see into their true nature. We snore as our hero is forced to choose
between skim and whole milk. Force him to choose between his wife's life
and his own, and we stare, wondering who this man will show himself to be.
emotion tHRougH CHallenge
Tests of skill and strength create emotions in many ways. As we struggle
at them, we enter a pleasurable state of focus. When we pass them, we feel
energized, capable, and dominant. Even failure instills a sense of wanting
to try again and do better, as long as the player senses the possibility of
success.
Challenge is so closely associated with games that it's often assumed
to be an essential aspect of the medium. It's part of many common defini-
tions of games. But though it is a powerful and flexible method, challenge
is still only one more emotional trigger, and not a necessary part of every
game design. The Sims , Minecraft , Snakes and Ladders , Dear Esther , and
roulette all create powerful emotions without players struggling toward a
predefined objective.
That being said, challenge is still an important part of most game
designs, so a large part of this topic is devoted to understanding it.
emotion tHRougH soCial inteRaCtion
Catch is a stupid game. At first glance, it's hard to see why anyone would
bother. Players just toss the ball back and forth. No human values change,
there are no characters, and nobody learns much. But we keep doing it.
Why?
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