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“Whatever the Emotional Experience, It’s Up to Them”: Insights from Designers of Emotionally Impactful Games

Denisova, A. ORCID: 0000-0002-1497-5808, Bopp, J. A., Nguyen, T. D. & Mekler, E. D. (2021). “Whatever the Emotional Experience, It’s Up to Them”: Insights from Designers of Emotionally Impactful Games. In: Proceedings of the 2021 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. CHI '21: CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, May 2021, Yokohama, Japan. doi: 10.1145/3411764.3445286


Emotionally impactful game experiences have garnered increasing interest within HCI games research. Yet the perspectives of designers have, to date, remained largely overlooked. We interviewed 14 indie game designers regarding their values and practices in designing emotionally impactful games. Counter to the focus of recent player experience (PX) studies, we find that while designers typically have a clear vision for the intended emotional impact, they aim for their games to provide a space for players to have their own personal experiences and interpretations. Despite this player-centric orientation, players were rarely involved before and during the production to evaluate the emotional experience. Based on these findings, we identify gaps between design practice and PX research, raise open questions around the design and evaluation of emotionally impactful game experiences, and outline opportunities for HCI games research to more productively support game designers.

Publication Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information: © 2021 Copyright held by the owner/author(s). Publication rights licensed to ACM.
Publisher Keywords: Emotional challenge; game designer; design practice; agency; emotionally impactful games; emotion; player experience; videogames
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Departments: School of Science & Technology > Computer Science
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