Chapter 2.19. Emotioneering Techniques Category #19: Role Induction Techniques
There's an art to pretending.
Role Induction Techniques
are techniques that make you willing to identify with the character you're playing.
What roles do you play willingly? Friend? Husband? Wife? Father? Son? Daughter?
Are there any roles you play unwillingly? At home? At work? In your family?
Children slide and in and out of roles at dizzying speeds. But by ten years old, psychological sediment has set in and they're expected to lock down into predictable personalities although I'm proud that many gamers seem to have escaped some of this cultural curse.
It seems to me that some "role-playing" games are misnamed. The game might allow you to choose a variety of characters to play, and yes, these characters might have different bodies and faces. You might learn a bit about their pasts. And each has a different set of skills, weapons, specialties, spells, and so on.
Yet, in such games, taking on a role is really like being dealt a hand of cards, if each card was a skill or ability. One chooses a role depending on what that character can do.
It's not expected that you'll feel like one of these characters.
The opposite problem also besets some games. They actively cast the player in a role that he or she is supposed to emotionally embrace. But just because, for instance, the game says you are the last surviving pilot of your squadron, that doesn't mean you feel like you're a pilot, nor that you are willing to be one.
Yet we know from our own lives that people are quite willing to emotionally involve themselves in a role if it's one that appeals to them. After I graduated college, I spend my weekends in spring singing at a massive Renaissance Faire, where, every Saturday and Sunday, 10,000 visitors would be entertained by 2,000 people quite willingly delving into the roles of sixteenth-century British nobility, peasant, minstrel, or craftsman.
How do we create this kind of emotional connection between a player and a role in a game?