Halo vs. Facebook: Emotion and the Fun of Games

Location: Marina Ballroom F Level: Intermediate

Games are the media of the 21st century and beyond what they teach in film school, games are rapidly evolving a new language around choice. From fiero to schadenfreude to naches, emotions increase player focus, memory, learning, decision making, and performance. Without emotions humans cannot make decisions and what’s at the core of all game design is player choice.

While character and plot are great ways to make people care, what really delivers the emotional goods are the emotions coming from gameplay. As interactive entertainment games have evolved to create a number of techniques that inspire and motivate decisions beyond usability’s narrow focus of reducing time on task and error rates.

By watching player’s facial expressions XEODesign has created a model of engagement for how bestselling games use emotion to capture attention, engage motivation, and create enjoyment through decisions. Turns out that people’s favorite player experiences (PX) craft emotion by offering four types of choices: the Hard Fun from challenge and mastery, Easy Fun from exploration and role play, Serious Fun for relaxation and real work, and People Fun from the excuse to hang out with friends.

Inside the success of Web 2.0 applications lies further proof of the motivational qualities of decision making. As seen in games, the human mechanics that drive participation from Flickr to Facebook are specific verbs that create emotion. Whether it’s Halo or Wii Sports, or Wikipedia or Facebook, certain interaction patterns create strong emotions that neither usability nor traditional marketing methods can measure. Other methods can, and by understanding PX models developers can craft emotions early in development to innovate with much less risk.

Starting with XEODesign’s new research of Halo and Facebook, together we dive deep into the world of player emotion to explore how games sculpt emotional responses to choices as early as the design document. Come find out how games such as Halo, World of Warcraft, and Diner Dash go beyond fiero to build their signature emotion profiles with gameplay. Emotions are more than rewards for a job well done. Join us for the full story and add more emotion to your application.

Free white papers on XEODesign’s research of emotion and games.

Photo of Nicole Lazzaro

Nicole Lazzaro

XEODesign, Inc.

Nicole Lazzaro, founder and president of XEODesign, Inc., is an award-winning interface designer and an authority on emotion and the player experience. A frequent speaker at industry events she writes extensively on games and why people play them. She has spent more than 17 years designing captivating experiences for all levels of players and users, from novice to expert, in many product genres.

Clients benefiting from her player experience research and design services include Sony, EA, The Cartoon Network, LeapFrog, Mattel, Sega, The Learning Company, Xfire, Broderbund, Roxio, Ubisoft, PlayFirst, GoPets, and Maxis. Her work on the emotional and cultural content of play has improved player experiences for more than 40 million people and helped expand the game industry’s emotional palette beyond the stereotypical range of anger, frustration, and fear. She has a degree in Psychology from Stanford University.


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