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Feature: 'Constraint Is Design'

In this exclusive Gamasutra interview, game scholars Katherine Isbister and Nicole Lazzaro expand on their GDC 2006 'Emotion Boot Camp' lecture, going into detail on the ...
In this exclusive Gamasutra interview, game scholars Katherine Isbister and Nicole Lazzaro expand on their GDC 2006 'Emotion Boot Camp' lecture, going into detail on the emotional effects of Half-Life 2, Facade, and the human intimacy potential of Nintendo's upcoming Wii. Discussing Valve's Half-Life 2 in relation to her work, Dr. Isbister makes a number of interesting points: "I think Half-Life 2 is a great example of the tremendous advances that have been made, as well as the challenges. Many of my students commented on how amazingly lifelike the characters were in that game. But I noticed a pattern--the ones who thought so were already hard-core first-person shooter players. To them, knowing the limitations of the medium and the genre, the movement and facial expressions, and the ability to interact during cut scenes were really exciting and liberating. But, I had everyone in my character design class play the demo version of the game and I noticed that students who were not already fans of this genre felt really frustrated interacting with the Half-Life 2 characters. They expected even more interactivity and lifelikeness from them because of how good they looked. And so they were disappointed. With the power to create such lifelike models and increasingly engaging motion, we run up against the problem that the interaction paradigms that are in place may need to shift, to make the whole experience work for players, and especially for a broader, less hard-core audience. Which makes grounding design in the player's experience [rather than relying on tried and true genre expectations] essential." You can read the full Gamasutra feature on the subject, including a number of other particularly interesting views on emotion and gaming (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from external websites).

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