Integrating Emotions into Your Game

Soroosh Mashal

If you have been following our blog posts, you know that we explained the importance of emotions and their role in our daily interactions. Then, we focused on the human-computer interaction in the context of video games, and finally, we explained how emotions can be the missing layer for human-computer interaction. This week, we will see how integrating this emotional layer into your products can benefit you and as a result, makes the world a better place.

Affective gaming

Although your common sense can easily tell you that an emotional interaction is better than an emotionless one, let’s assume that we are suffering from alexithymia, and the only way for us to comprehend it is to read scientific studies. The field of Affective Gaming touches on the intersection of affective computing and game design to help us see how we should integrate emotions in video games. The role of emotional design for games has been studied and frameworks are available to show us how to integrate emotional design concepts and produce desirable digital games. For example, the ACE framework takes a physiological point of view and shows how biofeedback can be used in such a setting. Other studies show how using emotions to adapt the environment can to your state increases user engagement. In addition to that, we know that more user engagement and involvement has a positive correlation with user satisfaction and subsequently drives the success of the organization.

In a nutshell, scientific studies tell us that if you integrate emotions in your product, you have a higher chance of success. In addition to that, scientific studies of comparison groups show that customers are likely to pay 18% more for a product that has AI technologies integrated. Thus, we can conclude that having emotion AI in a product increases your sales, customer satisfaction, and your chance of success by a noticeable margin.

A zero-sum gane or a win-win situation

Now, let’s see what this success means for the world. Is this a zero-sum game or is it a win-win situation? Two years ago on this day, The Wall Street Journal published the article: Alexa: Don’t Let My 2-Year-Old Talk to You That Way. It opened our eyes to the subtle but present effect of lack of emotion detection in our everyday lives and how it’s affecting our children. Children are bossing around personal assistants because they don’t receive a proper emotional response, and this can affect their personalities. The same thing can happen to our children’s interaction in virtual environments. In our first blog, we mentioned how we are increasingly interacting with computers more and more. Each simple everyday action is training them, and when those actions are void of emotions, we inevitably raise a generation that is prone to improper emotional response.

We are already aware of these requirements when it comes to humans, but why we are so fine with ignoring them when it comes to our children’s interactions with computers? Researches clearly show the importance of social and emotional competence and their link to employment outcomes and well-being, yet we tend to close our eyes to the fact that our children are increasingly having more interactions with emotionless objects and virtual environments.

Unstoppable growth of the games industry

Children and adults play games. The video game industry is growing at an unprecedented rate and there is no sign of stopping. Corona pandemic just fueled this growth as well. We have more and more people interacting with computers through virtual environments and games, and those interactions are still lacking proper emotional interaction.

As a game creator, we saw how integrating emotions can lead to your company’s success. Now as a human being, we can see how integrating emotions can help us create a world and raise a generation that has learned proper emotional response. A generation that is bound to success because they are raised well. Kids who learn to behave properly in fantasy worlds. Kids who learn to sound polite and friendly when they talk to Alexa rather than ordering and bossing around.

Why games? To be more humAIn.

And you may ask yourself: Why Games? The answer is simple: a high degree of openness to experience.
In video games, people are open to trying new things. We experience everything in video games and we do so without judgment. We are in those virtual worlds to try new things after all. During those emotional interactions with virtual environments and virtual characters, we and our children can learn how to stay humane. We can do it through emotion AI. We can be more humAIne.