What emotions do games elicit?

I recently was challenged by a colleague about the potential of games to elicit the range of emotions we feel. He could imagine games eliciting frustration, anxiety and anger. But how about sadness? No way can a game truly induce a sense of loss, real sadness… Right? Wrong. I introduced him to Passage. He got it. Oh, he got it. In FIVE minutes of gameplay.

Passage does indeed take 5-min to “play.” It’s not really a game. I’d say it’s a narrative, artful experience. But given its insanely simple pixelated interface and its almost non-existent game mechanics, why does it elicit such an intense emotional experience? I’ve shown it to some of the most hard-core gamers, and they ALL get the same “oomph” experience… never mind non-gamers. If I could bottle the impact of Passage, if I could harness an equation to make it replicable in different contexts, oh how far we could go…

Isabela Granic

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