I recently realised, whilst reading a review of a new computer game, what I am looking for in the games I spend so much time playing. It was what the review called Moments. Those times in the run of play, that give you a sense of being a part of something significant, of an unfolding epic. Whether its the clinching goal of a game of football, or the seconds before springing a surprise attack in a battle game. In these moments, you are caught up in the unfolding story, not just as a key player but as the chief protagonist.
The game has the job of establishing a story that you can become part of. When this is done well, it is inevitable that those momentary highs of enjoyment are delivered. And you discover that the game has inadvertantly become part of your life story, there is an emotional connection.
I was reminded of this again, when reading an article in the Times which told of games companies teaching their staff about classic story telling techniques:
“in an effort to introduce plot, character development and narrative tension to games. They had realised that although their games are addictive, few are emotionally compelling. I’ve never seen a computer game that made me cry” – Professor Jenkins of MIT.
More recently it has been collabortive multi-player experiences that have most moved me. A LAN halo 2 match, pitting three teams against each other, not only raises my adrenalin levels but also plays deeply with my emotions.