« There are some books that carry you along a journey until your tears make it impossible to read. Films and television shows, too. Games evoke emotion in a similar way to non-interactive works, with some exceptions – the greatest difference being emotion facilitated through action. In this essay, I look at games and electronic literature that have triggered my emotions and reflect on how this was achieved. The poet, novelist, screenwriter, playwright and games writer will find similar rhetorical devices being applied in different ways.
What sort of emotions am I talking about? In his essay on emotion in film, film theorist Ed Tan speaks about the difference between what he describes as ‘artefact emotion’ and ‘fiction emotion’ (Tan). Artefact emotions are ‘non-empathetic’ and occur in response to sensory pleasures such as the appearance of the actors, costumes, scenery, and special effects. A viewer engaging in artefact-based emotions does not need to engage with the story at all. On the other hand, fiction emotions are ‘emphatic’; these are direct reactions to the story and empathy with the characters.
When we talk about emotions in games, the relationship between content and viewer shifts from empathy to embodiment of the self. Indeed, some game researchers talk about emotions that are not related to ‘cut-scenes’, the story or characters. (…) »