For our thesis year, my partner, Parth Soni, and I are both making a game that explores all aspects of the MDA games framework. I am particularly interested in how people feel towards games. From experience, I mostly find myself connecting strongly to the narratives of the game. However, in most cases, I find there is a disconnect from the actions I perform and the feedback returned from the game. After speaking with Parth about his ideas of his research, we decided to work together to explore different aspects of making games for the mobile market. Parth will be researching how mechanics can be used to strengthen the player’s sense of connection to narratives and themes with representational gestures and controls. I am researching on how meaningful mechanics, game feel, and dynamics can emotionally connect players to the games, where my research will involve looking into run-time and human behaviour during the interaction. This engages my research question:

How can game dynamics and game feel amplify player’s emotional connection to game experiences?

Mechanics: Top-Left: Shake, Top-Right: Blow, Bottom-Left: Swipe, Bottom-Right: Zoom

During the Synthesis course, we have made a lot of paper prototyping and sketches to identify what kind of game will help us with our topics. Around this time, I researched a lot into psychological behaviours, emotions, and what factors affect game feel. The literature review evaluated for this research includes books and articles from Steve Swink on Game Feel. It also includes research papers conducted on emotional security, balance, motivational pulls, and gaming behaviours by various researchers such as Richard M. Ryan, C. Scott Rigby, Andrew Przybylski, Giovanni Sosa, David Callele, Eric Neufeld, and Kevin Schneider. Some of these papers mentioned some key points on how age, personality, and opinions on games would affect how people play and see games. This enlightened the fact that to introduce this game to non-gamers, the game should be advertised as an experience as much as it as a game. At the same time, I researched into flowers, their properties, symbolism, and maintenance to further understand what elements could be used for the mechanics of the game.

Summer timeline/schedule
Game-Flow chart: beginning stages

In summer, I researched into different mechanics and how different interactions can affect a player’s emotions. Through my research over Synthesis and summer, I realized that dynamics played a huge part of creating the game feel I’m seeking. At that point, I continued with reading Swink’s book on game feel on different inputs and dynamics theories. I started researching different art styles, and developing art assets to test what kind of animations and run-time behaviours we can incorporate in the game to help generate an environment that would help generate a feeling that would allow players to feel a part of the space. We took references of a few games including Lara Croft Go, Mountain, Monument Valley, Adventures of Poco-Eco, and Love you to Bits. Currently, we have a small tech demo showcasing a tutorial level that would lead to the main menu of the game.

Reference art renders

At the beginning of the Thesis semester, I started looking more into games and papers relating to emotions, empathy, and dynamics. During the second week of class, we were asked to search for three more annotated bibliographies. I have decided to read more about emotion, and some articles I came across are “Designing Games That Foster Empathy” by Jonathan Belman and Mary Flanagan, “8 Ways Video Games Generate Emotion” by Jonathan Frome, and “Violent Video Game Exposure Effects on Aggressive Behaviour, Hostile Feelings, and Depression” by Christopher J. Ferguson and Stephanie M. Rueda.

Thesis Presentation File: thesis-presentation-pdf