Customizable crying and connection: personalization and its effect on player emotion and empathy
By Devinne Moses
Office of University Scholars and Fellows, Duke University
Player choice sets video games apart from other visual media, and narrative designers work with game developers to implement tools that allow players to make choices and feel involved. Prior research focuses on games that include emotional themes and character customization, which are seen as effective ways to create empathy between player and protagonist. However, most research compares different games with various levels of customization, opening doors to several confounding variables. To address this gap, it is essential to explore how character customization and narrative context influence player emotion, character connection, morality, and engagement in a single game. This study involved participants playing a custom-built interactive fiction game demo (MOSAIC).Overall, players’ attitudes toward the demo were consistent across all three experimental groups and the control group, although character connection was higher in groups where participants were given additional story information and/or opportunities to customize the protagonist. This is a valuable step towards understanding video games and player emotion, especially considering gaming’s global presence and constant expansion.
Keywords: emotions, characters, morality, video games, customization, self-report