Video Games Can Now Tap in to Players’ Emotions
In a recent article by Wired Magazine, author Charles Q. Choi discusses the new trend of video games that analyze players’ emotions in order to create a better gaming experience.
Choi states that “Nintendo’s Wii game console may owe some of its extraordinary success to emotions that are triggered by specific movements: It might essentially be using your body to hack into your brain.”
We recently blogged about actions creating emotions. This same principle can apply to both the Wii and the new Xbox Kinect. For example, “Star Wars: The Force Unleashed” has players fling an object or person to the ground with a hurling motion using the nunchuk part of the Wii controller. This motion creates a feeling of aggression, and really puts the player in the mindset of the character they are playing as.
As Katherine Isbister, computer and social scientist at NYU’s Polytechnic Institute, states: “One really wonderful thing you can do with games is identify with protagonists, to go on the hero’s journey, and imagine how much one could feel what they feel if players learned to stand and move the same way – to go, say, from a hesitant posture to a confident one.”
The utilization of physical movements in video games continues the trend of turning gaming into a more active (rather than passive) experience. The Nintendo Wii has already attracted a huge demographic of casual gamers, and incorporating players’ emotions will create an experience that many Wii fanatics would enjoy. According to Isbister, “Physically being in sync can lead to feelings of liking or trust. You can make people feel more connected.”
There are numerous ways that emotion could factor into gameplay. In role playing games, the storyline could change depending on the way the player moves. Difficulty in games could be adjusted if the player’s movements are indicative of frustration.
Do you play video games? If so, do you think you would enjoy games that tap into your emotions?
Developers are also doing research on gaming and emotion. For example, they have testers play a minigame, capture their movement data, and interview them before and after playing to see how their moods change. So far, research suggests that both the type of motion and its quality affect players’ moods and feelings about the game itself.
In addition, when testing the dance games Boogie Superstar and Wii Cheer, participants said that they enjoyed the latter more than the former. According to testers, the movements in Boogie Superstar were constrained and mechanical, whereas the movements in Wii Cheer were more flowing and buoyant.
Research like this is an even better indicator of how much players enjoy certain types of games even more than average dollar sales.
How do you think ‘hacking’ into players’ emotions will affect the gaming industry?