Calendar 2017 - October

10 oktober

Man, don't get Annoyed!

“Man, don't get annoyed!” is the original name of Ludo, one of the most famous German board games. It suggests that emotions and game-playing form a unified whole. Games without emotions would have long odds on the market – which game developers are aware of, of course.

The most important thing with game-playing is probably suspense. Although the concept is impossible to identify or operationalize clearly in psychological terms, we all know the inner state it entails. Its components are: insecurity, expectation, competition, dynamics (“suspense curve”). Suspense builds up and, ideally, dissolves very late in the game. Which one of these feelings comes to the fore is also a matter of age. That of excitement involves cognitions that small children are not yet equipped with. For them, it is important for a game to be fun, which is another rather vague concept made concrete by an interplay of the unexpected, the surprising and the moderately unknown.

Surprisingly, we also enjoy playing games that are associated with aversive emotions. You will be extremely irritated when your own gaming piece is thrown off the Ludo board, of course, quite probably right before reaching dry land, too. We all know (or ourselves are) players who can't lose. That is when anger will predominate, which can escalate to fits of rage and that in turn to abandoned matches, and destruction. You hardly want to play with a spoil-sport.

The digital realm adds a further range to the weight of emotions in play. Through components like adaptability (levels etc.), interactivity, personalization, availability or chance, emotions can be manipulated almost arbitrarily. Reaching the next level will (albeit briefly) fill you with great joy. The machine's artificial intelligence will create “your” game as an extract of past gaming behaviour, which will gratify your ego. Built-in coincidence will allow for a white range of surprises. Together with chance and adaptation, continuous availability will result in a constant suspense curve, which quickly leads to addiction with games of luck, for instance. In this case, just like everywhere else, expanding opportunities bring with it potentially expanding risks. With that said we can conclude that, the more emotions they can convey (positive or negative), the more successful game developers will be. To those who are becoming pawns in the hands of their own emotions and on the way to becoming “gamblers”, early recourse to psychological help is recommended.#

The interconnection of learning, playing and emotions creates the basis for the long-standing trend of “gamification”. The idea is to lend dry subject matter a playful character and give it an emotional charge, which is an elaborate task, all in all. It is a well-known fact that a combination of learning content and emotions will jog one's memory power. Learning with joy has a lasting effect … we can hope.

It requires quite some experience to create a concept for how to transfer gaming elements to environments originally foreign to gaming and thereby actually achieve the desired effect. This rather novel area of consulting and conception currently is, and will remain, an upcoming line of business.


Bild/Picture: © osterwelle –