Playing With Emotion

We know a lot about what video games can provide in terms of physical and psychological benefits for people. Our previous articles ‘Are Video Games Beneficial’, “How Technology Can Improve Your Mental Health’, and ‘Anxiety and Video Game Play’ all summarise a little bit of this research literature.

But what about zooming in to just our emotions? After all, emotions are a key part of our overall health and wellbeing.

A new project called Emotionshop, run at the Entertainment Technology Centre at Carnegie Mellon University, is developing a series of games each with a spotlight on a different emotion. You can watch the YouTube clip summarising their project here. And here is a quote from their project instructors:

“Emotionshop is a project that aims to develop broad principles for gameplay techniques which evoke emotions. Every week, the team will come out with individual prototypes centered on a single emotion, analyze each prototype’s effectiveness through playtesting and feedback, and identify principles underlying the successful techniques.  We will explore a wide spectrum of emotions using only the simplest of art and sound, so as to focus on the role of game mechanics in eliciting emotions. At the end of the project, the team will deliver a report with the consolidation of our findings, along with at least 50 prototypes presented on a website.” – Heather Kelley & Jess Hammer, Entertainment Technology Centre, Carnegie Mellon University.

The Emotionshop currently has 28 games, with more potentially to be added in time. You can find all of the games created so far in the Emotionshop here:

One thing we love about this project is the team rating of the games, both during prototyping, as well as at the end of each week, using an emotion wheel. The wheel comprises six basic core emotions at its centre, and gradually becomes more complex as you move outward. By selecting emotions on the wheel, this allowed the developers to revise game design elements in order to create the perfect game designed for one particular emotion.

So, do you ever reflect on the emotional impact of your game play? Here’s a blank emotion wheel so you can measure it too. Try it out and let us know how you go!


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