Digital Experience of Love and Loss: Emotional Game Design in Emily Is Away

Magdalena Bednorz

Abstrakt

The article aims to shed light on the relationship between digital media and emotional experiences such as love and loss. It follows Lee Mackinnon’s theoretical assumption that love can be considered and experienced differently depending on the technological system which facilitates it, broadens that assumption to the wider range of emotional social experiences, and employs that view in analyzing the emotional game design of Emily Is Away – an interactive story about a relationship with an old high school friend as depicted in conversations via instant messaging client. In doing so, the article aims to investigate how the digital context and mediation of personal conversations through instant messengers can influence the ways in which we experience drifting away from people we once considered important, crafting a set of cultural associations later to be used within a text of culture. It focuses on the accessibility and immediacy of contact via internet contrasted with the spatial divide, as well as the capacity for representation of uncertainty and longing in the visual form on the interface. It also discusses the seeming universality of the depicted emotional experience, as it became recognizable enough to be thematized into a game which relies on the feeling of nostalgia. Finally, by exploring the emotional design of the game on the levels of its aesthetics, narrative, mechanics and procedures, the article attempts to show the potential of the digital medium to represent and/or reproduce such experiences and emotions, thus broadening the spectrum of our cultural emotional experiences. 

Słowa kluczowe: digital games, game design, emotional design, discourse machines, new media, agency, nostalgia
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