Chapter 1.6. Why "Writing" Is a Bad Word and "Emotioneering" Is a Better One
Dialogue is only a very small part of writing.
Dialogue is only
a very small part of writing. Take, for example, the film Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. (If you haven't seen the film and don't want to learn the ending here, you might want to skip this and the next five paragraphs. Begin reading with the paragraph that begins, "If writing for scripts….")
Li Mu Bai (played by Chow Yun-Fat) and Jen (Zhang Ziyi) "trade places." Li begins the film by abandoning the spiritual (monastic) life, reentering the world of swordsmanship and passion. Even as he dies, he says he'd rather be a ghost by Yu Shu Lien's (Michelle Yeoh's) side than enter nirvana. Jen begins the film totally enveloped by narcissism and passion. By the end, she abandons these attitudes and her boyfriend for an act of spiritual redemption (jumping off the mountain).
So these two trade places. When two major characters trade places, this is about one of 60 techniques that, when applied artfully, can give depth to a plot. Thus, it's a Plot Deepening Technique.
This "Plot Deepening Technique" has little to do with dialogue, but much to do with writing. But, in addition to this technique, there are hundreds of others that you can use to create emotional experiences, and only a small percentage of them apply to dialogue.
In fact, if you were the writer of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, how would you even know what dialogue to write in the final scene between Chow Yun-Fat and Michelle Yeoh if you hadn't worked out this "changing places" thing first?
If you thought of "writing" to mean "dialogue," you would miss this and all the other Plot Deepening Techniques in Crouching Tiger.
If writing for scripts involves much more than dialogue, this is even truer for creating emotion in games. Some techniques involve dialogue, of course, but many do not.
This is why I created a new word: Emotioneering™. As discussed in Chapter 1.2, "An Introduction to Emotioneering," Emotioneering is the vast body of techniques that can create, for a player or participant, a breadth and depth of emotions in a game or other interactive experience, or that can immerse a game player or interactive participant in a world or a role. It also means the application of these techniques.
The goal of Emotioneering is to move the player through an interlocking sequence of emotional experiences.
Emotioneering entails much more than great dialogue. Dialogue does play a role, however. Bland, clichéd, unnatural, or wooden dialogue dialogue lacking emotion beneath the surface (lacking "subtext") or dialogue that makes several or all the characters sound the same can mitigate otherwise powerful and artful Emotioneering.