Have you ever wondered why you really enjoyed that music album you just listened to? Or questioned why you couldn't put that novel down at 4 in the morning?. It's simple. We were deeply and emotionally invested in the content of that medium. When making design choices it is important to think about what elements will make our game unique, exciting, and fun to play. We need to discover that something special, that extra spoonful of sugar, that extra layer of styling that will provide your players with a sense of wonderment.
Games like Ico
achieve this effect by adding a humanistic approach to how we navigate throughout the game. You must help guide your NPC partner through the game's environments by holding her hand. This simple addition to the game's platforming and puzzle mechanics forms a unique bond; it elicits a certain type of emotional engagement. We might begin to care more about our safety as we try to solve the castle's puzzles and avoid treacherous spirits. This specific design choice forces the game's designers to think of new approaches to how they create the game's puzzles. Furthermore, the emotional bonding between these fictional characters becomes more endearing for the player. We emphasis with their plight and unwanted desperation as they try to escape the temple grounds.
is a specific case on how the simple emotion of kindness (represented by the characters holding hands) can craft a remarkable experience for the player. Gears of War
constructs this in more violent ways.
Gears of War
designed combat kills to be more satisfying, by giving players the ability the violently saw their opponents in half in a waterfall of blood and guts. These action kills in Gears are one of the few mechanics that establishes the game as a distinctive experience. Epic needed to design features that would make Gears stand out from the over-crowed shooter market. Imagine Gears without the chainsaw kills and "popped" headshots; it begins to lose its freshness and identity.
The outrageous attacks in Gears and why we find them satisfying can be contributed to why we culturally love horror flicks. We love the absurdity of violence. We pay to see it every week; in movie theaters, in the ring, on television. It's not a coincidence that the joy we get in savagely decapitating our foes is a main driving force behind the design of Gears of War
Now that we have briefly visited opposite ends of the emotional design spectrum, we can pull back and examine games that visually elicit a strong response of curiosity and astonishment.
A game like Sword and Sorcery: EP
emotionally compels us to continue playing the game through its visual and audio design. The artistic design of the game and the harrowing soundtrack challenges us to think about what games are, what they can be. S&S: EP
is invested in delivering a game to its audience by crafting a new gaming experience. It has familiar gaming tropes, yet offers us something we haven't seen before. It is when we discover those elements for our games, those emotional tugs; it is that level of discovery that allow us to design something special for our players.