Characters for Whom You re Responsible

Characters for Whom You're Responsible

In The Sims, players do something more than invest the characters with life. Compared to a stuffed animal, Sims already look fairly alive, so it doesn't take an extreme amount of "investing."

Players are also responsible for their Sims. Characters for whom we feel responsible have Rooting Interest (meaning that we empathize with them).[3]

[3] It's important to state that different players relate to their Sims characters in quite different ways. Some players strongly identify with them and try and get quite involved in creating their lives. Other players, however, are simply amused, and we all know that more than a few players have tried to get their Sims into all sorts of horrible situations, and even kill them off in loathsome ways. Thus, though Sims characters have Rooting Interest to some players, the game offers players many ways relate to the characters. This is a Self-Created Story Technique and, as we'll see in Chapter 2.24, it's a great way to foster player immersion in a game.

My guess is that if you could never control more than one or two Sims, you'd be more emotionally invested and there'd be a greater likelihood they'd have Rooting Interest.

You can see this even in real life, for instance, parents suffer when one of their children experiences a major setback or disappointment.

Going back to our game with the dragon: You come to know the villagers, and they depend on you to save them. Assuming they're made life-like enough and with techniques to give them Rooting Interest, you want to save them. You feel responsible for them. This increases your empathy for each of them.

Take a look at another example.

In the hypothetical game illustrated on the following page, you play Jen Cranston, a surveyor under contract with the government of Peru. Your life is pretty drab and uneventful, until you get lost one day (which happens to be where our game begins) and hear screams from inside a cave.

You explore and discover this ancient artifact, as well as Citlali, the woman who's been trapped by it and who's been writhing in pain for 1,000 years.

You smash the artifact and free the woman from her agony.

It's true that empathizing with someone leads us to wanting to have some responsibility for them. But the reverse is also true: taking responsibility for someone causes us to empathize with him or her. In this case, you'd empathize with the woman for whom you took responsibility, and whom you liberated from her torment.


We can see this in life not just with parents and children, but even with pets. If you take care of a dog or cat, soon you start empathizing with it. Thus, if the animal gets sick or wounded, it will affect you emotionally.

The parameter of our being expands to encompass those people, and even animals, trees, and things, for whom and which we feel responsible.[4] For them, we'll feel empathy. This is that almost mystical ability I noted at the start of the chapter our ability to see through the eyes of others.

[4] If a person has restored a vintage car and labored tremendous time and love on it (taken responsibility for it) and that car gets injured, the person will feel pain. This is what I mean by being able to even empathize with objects for which we feel responsible.

Citlali also has Rooting Interest due to two other techniques. First of all, she's in Danger and an NPC in Danger is one we're likely to identify with. Additionally, she has Undeserved Misfortune, which also gives her Rooting Interest. (To be fair, we don't yet know if Citlali's misfortune is undeserved or not, although the way I envisage the game, she wouldn't have deserved this punishment. And even if, later in the game we learn that her misfortune is deserved, she'd still have Rooting Interest until then.)

Creating Emotion in Games. The Craft and Art of Emotioneering
Creating Emotion in Games: The Craft and Art of Emotioneering
ISBN: 1592730078
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 394

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