Affective Gaming Essay

1009 Words 5 Pages
Shigeru Miyamoto, the father of the Mario and Zelda franchises, tells us that he designs his games around a series of specific emotional experiences. Console manufacturer Sony have christened the PlayStation 2's CPU the ‘emotion engine'. Clearly the gaming community understands the importance of emotion in games, so why do most games offer the player such a shallow emotional play experience?

The reason is partly due to the relative immaturity of the games industry. Whereas the film industry has a mature and well developed structure for how the auteur might evoke tears in the eyes of the audience, the digital games industry is still in the process of writing the rule book.

With digital gaming being a visual medium, you might expect
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Recognising the emotional state of the player

There are various tools which can be used to determine the affective state of the game player. Researchers at MIT in Dublin have been investigating the use of galvanic skin response (GSR) to determine a player's state of arousal. ‘Relax-to-Win' is a therapeutic game where the player's level of relaxation controls the speed of a racing dragon. At the Interactive Institute in Stockholm, the player's brain activity is being measured by an electroencephalogram (EEG) in the game ‘Brainball'. This is a two player game where the direction of a steel ball is determined by each player's ability to meditate.

An alternative method for recognising emotions using traditional console equipment is currently being investigated at Glasgow Caledonian University. Already, experiments have found that the affective state of the player can be determined by how they use the gamepad. Not only does the pressure of button depression indicate the level of player arousal, but also the rate at which a button is pressed and eventually released indicates the emotion felt by a player.

There are three major benefits to be gained from knowing the affective state of the player:

1. DYNAMIC CONTENT

Like the traditional campfire storyteller who adapts their story to the listener, the game designer can tailor the game content to suit the audience's
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