The Hypothetical Game

In our example game, a time-travel mishap delivers you to the time of Cro-Magnons, who fight off Wooly Mammoths and other hominids who've got their own ideas about being progenitors to man.

Initially, the game sets up situations that would lead you to think that these Cro-Magnons are fairly dumb and shallow. But then, as you get to know them as a group and as individuals, you discover that certain aspects of their culture give them depth.


They have a mythological explanation of the world that, although not very scientific, has more emotional and spiritual truth than perhaps even our own world-view.

For instance, they claim that children are inhabited by river spirits, which is why they are free, playful, and always on the run. When children get older, the river spirits leave, replaced by tree spirits, which is why adults are more inclined to stay in one place.

The way a tree offers shelter with its green canopy, adults give shelter to their children. But, as water nourishes the tree, the river spirits in the children, in turn, bring life to the trees that are the adults. Thus their proverb, "The sound of children is life."[1]

[1] It goes almost without saying that this spiritual background is a lot of information to relay in a game. Those who enjoy the extra level of detail and depth will truly appreciate your efforts here. But because some players couldn't care less (since their primary reason for playing will be the gameplay and not any story elements), ideally your game should accommodate both.

One way of dealing with this is to not force information like this down players' throats; don't make learning information about these tribes' beliefs and practices something that all players must experience in order to progress through the game. Instead, it can be made available in some way or another just to those who seek it out.

Some designers feel that every piece of information a player learns should influence how the game is played or how the story unfolds. But this is simply one ideal. If the information colors the player's emotions, then I would say that it does influence the game. If liking children makes these people more likable to the player, then that also influences the game.

This doesn't mean that it isn't worth striving to have all information that is learned by the player be useful in a more active way in the game.

Obviously, merely believing in spirits doesn't make an individual or group "deep." But being able to think in terms of metaphorical relationships based on observation of subtle energies would certainly show wisdom and thus give the group "depth."


If there's a beautiful sunset, members of the clan gather to watch in complete and utter silence and awe. The children watch too.

Also, the clan creates beautiful cave paintings.


There's something noble just in the way they carry themselves.

A Deeper Group

Suddenly, by applying a few Group Deepening Techniques, the group no longer seems possibly unintelligent or shallow.

Of course, as you get to know various NPCs among the group, if a number of them possess either NPC Deepening Techniques (Chapter 2.2) or Dialogue Deepening Techniques (Chapter 2.4), their depth will also rub off on your feelings about the culture as a whole.

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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