Hypothetical Game Case Study: The Kidnapped Teenager

Take a look at the color picture on page 5.

In this game, you play Terrence Sloan, a special-forces operative. As your best friend, James, dies in battle, he asks that you look after his 16-year-old daughter Corrina.

When you meet her, she's distraught over her father's death, but also alienated and unhappy in life. She's a withdrawn misfit.

She's kidnapped by the creatures of Shadowland, a world that can only be entered between twilight and night. The inhabitants there are fairies and other mythical creatures. They didn't always live in Shadowland; they fled there as the ranks of mankind swelled and forced them out of our realm.

When you come upon Corrina, she doesn't remember you, her father, or her prior existence. Though she was a gloomy misfit in her former life, here she fits right in. In fact, her mind and soul are now threaded into this world and have brought it new life. She's a sort of empress here.

Of course, because she doesn't remember anyone or anything from her past, she doesn't want to come with you back to your world.

You have a tough choice:

  • Will you leave her from this world where she's happy and has a purpose, but where her memory has been erased?

  • Or, will you bring her back to a world where grief and alienation await her…but also the chance to grow through those problems and become who she's meant to be (by normal standards, anyway)?

There may not be a right or wrong choice, but wrestling with it will make the player face some potentially deep issues.

Technique Summary

Although giving a player Emotionally and/or Morally Difficult Decisions is just one of many First-Person Deepening Techniques, it's among the most difficult to achieve. That's because it implies a splitting of the path the player is taking, and that, in turn, means building assets that at least some of the players won't see (unless they play the game again and take the alternative path).

So while it might be easy to theoretically design and build tough decisions for the player to make, it's very difficult to build in meaningful choices like this that result in First-Person Deepening and still do it cost-effectively.

As pointed out earlier in this chapter, one solution is to have the player's choice result in meaningful short-term consequences, combined with some long-term consequences that don't cost much to implement.

The obvious question is: Is it worth it? Of course it depends on the game, but if this technique is employed in a cost-effective way, then I feel it certainly enhances the emotional depth of the game.[2]

[2] The painting on the cover of this book depicts a hypothetical game in which the player also faces a First-Person Deepening type of choice, because it is emotionally and/or morally difficult to make. That choice is for the player to either (1) try to rescue the young woman while simultaneously fighting off the alien creatures, or (2) drop her so as to have both hands free to fire weapons and better save himself. How to offer the player this choice in a way that doesn't require the building of many new assets, and which is therefore cost-effective while still having consequences within the game is examined in Chapter 5.3, "Gatherings."

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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