Game Development Reference
Another might be long and complex, like an open-world narrative role-
playing game that shifts from awed exploration to narrative intrigue to
combat excitement through 100 hours of play.
Different emotions put together can enhance one another, transform
one another, or even destroy one another. Let's look at some of the ways
games can mix emotion to create experiences.
To maximize a single feeling, we can combine several different emotional
triggers that drive the exact same emotion. Each trigger is like another
booster rocket that pushes the experience further toward one pure emo-
For example, traditional action arcade games combine fast-paced
music, risky situations, violent fiction, and testosterone-driven social com-
petition to make the game as exciting as possible. Any one of these triggers
could work on its own to create excitement. Together they boost the experi-
ence to levels none of them could achieve separately.
Juxtaposition is the combination of different, seemingly incompatible feel-
ings. Ramming together feelings that don't ordinarily mix can produce
strange and sometimes valuable results.
For a long time, I thought Epic Games' Gears of War series was no
more than a mindless monster-bashing space marine romp. And the
louder part of its presentation is exactly that. Characters rip monsters
apart with gun-mounted chainsaws, curb-stomp downed enemies, and
fill the air with endless testosterone-marinated declarations of personal
awesomeness. But as I became more familiar with the series, I realized
that the hyper-violent surface concealed a second, very different emotional
ingredient, like a subtle flavor you don't notice until halfway through a
meal. Gears of War is mournful. It's set in the ruins of a civilization of
extraordinary beauty. Most of the character arcs are about coming to terms
with loss, whether of a loved one or a glorious former life. Even the game's
advertisements became famous because of the fascinatingly unsettling
juxtaposition of Gary Jules's Mad World and visuals of computer-generated
carnage. By juxtaposing mourning with violent excitement, Gears of War
becomes more than just an industrial-strength gore-fest.
There is an easy way to experiment with juxtaposition. Just replace the
music in a game with music that creates a very different feeling. Replace
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