So we all know the objective of a game is for the player to enjoy them selves, at the least it be addictive enough to keep playing. But what does enjoyment mean and how do designers influence a player to make that happen. A “fully sick” game idea is not enough, it needs to have some intention and design thought behind it. Abe Lincoln shooting chainsaws out of a bazooka to slaughter zombies sounds cool, but that would only be interesting under the right premise, and some further design work to make it feasible.
This idea is ridiculous, but let’s keep going with it and consider how it could be a feasible game. The first thing would be to know what your game is; is it meant to make the player happy, sad, immersed? What things hook the player; is it the story, mechanics, asthetic?
Let’s say you want to make the player feel sad and be driven by the aesthetic… This is a bad game idea to deliver these emotions. Let’s look at why. For starters, the player is not going to feel sad that old Abe is killing zombies. If someone is going to play this they are going to play it because it’s Abe Lincoln shooting chainsaws out of a bazooka to slaughter zombies! They know Abe was a president of the united states, an over achiever and general bad ass in some eyes. So the fact that he is now killing zombies is just funny.
So what would you most likely want the player to feel in this game? Humour, excitement, and power! They want to hack down zombies, see blood spray across the screen and all in a fast passed environment where Abe is an almost unstoppable force. The player isn’t going to care about remembering the declaration of independence or who assassinated him. If you want the player to feel sad and be immersed then you would focus on the story of Abe’s presidency, what he achieved, how he helped the people, cut out the zombies and chainsaws, then focus on the detail and authenticity of the era during which time he lived. It would be more of a story telling game.
So I guess influencing a player comes down to knowing what your game is, and then making good design decisions based on the emotions that fit.