GDC 2006: Monday, March 20th

Emotion Boot Camp: Putting More Emotion into Play


Overview: Using what players like most about play, this playshop offers tools and tactics for creating emotion for next-generation player experiences based on XEODesign’s close examination of players during play, and Isbister’s research at Stanford and the Rensselaer Games Research Laboratory.

Nicole Lazzaro
Katherine Isbister

Takeaway: a delightful brainstorming session, some valuable metrics of player experience and emotion, and an amazing view into to the lexicon of controlling emotional projection presented by Leonard Pitt (who comes from a theater background.)

I’m going to be a bit chronologically irresponsible here so bear with me. Starting at the end of the 8-hour day and working backwards, the following is the game concept my group brainstormed for the final design challenge. The constraints were as follows:

“Apply what you have learned today about creating emotion [in games]. Break into groups of five and…add emotion to an existing game or create a totally new PX [player experience profile] using biosensors. Choose one of three challenges, then select a game and someone to take notes and present your results. Brainstorm with your group on what you would change to create new emotions. Clear goals and big emotional shifts earn more points in the final vote. Advanced Play: Try replacing the most important feature with something that creates the opposite set of emotions. How big a shift can you get? You have 60 minutes. GO!”

At this point there was a list of games from which to choose, and Nicole added that if the group wanted it could create an entirely new game concept, based on a hypothetical biofeedback input device.

As it turns out, one of the members of our group, Tim Hong, actually works at a company that is relatively far along in creating such a device. I was a little fried at that point – sorry if I’m bungling this, Tim – but the way I remember him describing the device is this: “like a pair of sunglasses, wireless. It senses blinking and eye contractions. We’re running at 60hz so we can effectively capture brief facial displays of emotion like surprise, curiosity, or amusement.” Neat!

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