Appropriateness of Adaptation
There are lots and lots of subtopics to think about here!
For me, one of the biggest questions is the following: Is this dependent on game genre, game pace, or style of game play?
I hope that over the coming posts you’ll understand why I pose this question.
The world of computer games is both big and diverse, which suggests that adapting to user emotions may not be appropriate for all games, or indeed in all situations.
Let’s consider single player vs. multiplayer. In a single player situation the environment around the player can adapt to that one user. However, in a multiplayer game, where the players are on opposite teams the environment would have to adapt to two contradicting states. Is this feasible, and if so, how would you do it?
In single player mode the AI of potential monsters can be adapted to the player's emotions, whereas in a multiplayer versus style game, the game cannot adapt one of the player's capabilities. Even attempting to steer the progress of the game through changing luck levels for the players is not advised. This could benefit one player, but the other would end up feeling cheated. This is an ethical issue, one of many. I will attempt to discuss ethics in later posts.
Moving on from single vs. multiplayer there is the question of style of game. I say style of game, because at the moment I'm not sure whether it is genre dependent or dependent on pace or whether the game play is about solving a puzzle, or killing some monster/other player's avatar say. Casual games, such as the game I've made, I think can greatly benefit from emotion detection and adaptation provided it's fast pace.
Consider a casual game such as Frozzd http://www.yoyogames.com/games/show/20523. In this game you "jump from planet to planet as you guide the Mubbly creatures, and use them as an army to defeat the Frozzd." This is an amazing casual game by the way! Definitely worth a try!
The game is not extremely fast pace; you can take your time running and jumping between planets. Having said that, if you encounter the Frozzd you need to be ready, and then things start happening fairly quickly. I think adding emotional adaptations to this game would benefit it as it would differ each time you played it, and in addition it would give you a sense of achievement on each level. More experienced players could then be made to feel challenged from the get go, and noobs could be allowed to finish the game (not necessarily without dying a few times, we’re not talking make it dead easy here..)
On the other hand, consider Mah Jong. I suppose this is also a casual game, but it is a totally different style. Mah Jong is more like a slow card game, matching pairs to make them disappear.
Playing Mah Jong you may well experience different emotions, however because the game play is slow, and it's a game based on thought and careful consideration, the physiological changes are likely to be so slow and small that they could just as well be because of something totally unrelated to the game (e.g. someone comes in to the room and tells you of some good news). This suggests a limitation of the technology and will be discussed in a later post. From a design point of view though, it's hard to see how a game like Mah Jong may benefit from adaptations, or indeed what you may adapt. The blocks are all laid out at the start of the game. As two and two vanish it depends on your own choices whether you will make it or not. In fact, if the game was adaptive and changed certain blocks (it would have to be hidden blocks, or the player would see it changing, which could lead to frustration, or at least boredom if they could see the 'cheating' taking place), the system could potentially change the outcome of the game in a negative fashion by messing up a winning strategy.
This leads me to think it’s not related to the genre of the game so much as pace and/or style of game play. What do you think?