Game Development Reference
another gifts or resources that help them achieve objectives. The Sims al-
lowed players to share photo-album-like stories about their virtual people.
Super Mario Galaxy allows one player to control Mario while another uses
the pointing controller to help out by grabbing stars on the screen. Kane &
Lynch allows two players to experience its grimy crime story together.
In a sense, playing a game is a move in the larger game of life. The
father who offers to play catch hopes to connect with his son; the internal
meaning of catch is less important to him than its use as a tool in life. We
play drinking games to establish adulthood. We play chicken with trains to
show fearlessness. The middle school boy plays spin the bottle not because
he's interested in probability-based elimination mechanics, but because he
knows he might get to kiss the cute girl.
emotion tHRougH aCquisition
We feel a pulse of happiness when we find a dollar under the couch cush-
ions. We chase high-paying jobs and freebies. People scream and cry when
they win the lottery. Whatever form it takes, acquiring wealth is a bit of a
Gambling games trigger this response with real wealth. But even
games involving no real money can trigger this emotion by creating ar-
tificial systems of wealth and acquisition and then giving players wealth
within that system. The fake reward still triggers the feeling of acquisition.
Action role-playing games such as Diablo III are a good example of
this. The player wanders around randomly generated dungeons, killing
an endless stream of monsters. Defeated demons, zombies, and skeletons
spew out little piles of gold, magical weapons, or pieces of armor. Every
gold piece and sword contributes to the increasing power of the player's
character. These rewards come so often and so continuously that the player
stays on a permanent high of rewards acquisition. The game has narrative,
audiovisuals, characters, and challenges, but none of these is its primary
emotional driver. At its core, Diablo III is about the feeling of getting rich.
emotion tHRougH musiC
Music is a powerful and flexible tool for generating emotion. Since it's so
easy to mix into an experience, it's used liberally across many media. Films
play exciting music during action scenes, nightclubs play sexy music late
at night, and daytime talk shows play sad or triumphant songs to empha-
size whatever narrative they're trying to create. Games do the same thing
with action, ambient, or scary music.
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