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GDC 2010: The 4 Most Important Emotions for Social Games
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
The 4 Most Important Emotions for Social Games
Speaker/s: Nicole Lazzaro (XEODesign, Inc.)
Day / Time / Location: Thursday 9:00-10:00 Room 303, South Hall
Track / Format: Game Design / Lecture
Description: Social bonding drives Social Gaming more than spamming a friend feed. Ignored by usability testing, neuroscience proves that emotion drives decision making, performance, and social interaction. XEODesign's continuing Four Keys to Fun research identifies four social emotions required to create Massively Social Online games (MSOs) played by billions. These four emotions are the secret sauce to social games and create enjoyment, coordinate actions, drive viral distribution, increase monetization, and encourage player retention.

Come see how Facebook and iPhone games increase player engagement with Amici (friendliness), Amiero (social bonding) and others. This session dissects the secret mechanics behind Mafia Wars (Zynga) and Farmville (Zynga) and new social mechanics from Tilt our experimental iPhone game. Whether it is hiring a friend as a janitor in Restaurant City (PlayFish) or icing one in Mobsters (Playdom), social emotions drive hours of play. After all, who doesn't enjoy feeling closer to friends?

Full slideshow at http://www.slideshare.net/NicoleLazzaro/gdc-4-emotions-social-games-lazzaro-slides-100311

Some key things I'd call attention to:

Emotion < Choice < Mechanic > Choice > Emotion
Mechanics enable player choice, which in turn enable player emotions.

Measuring emotions from facial expressions lets you find out which mechanics lead to which emotions
Paul Ekman has done studies on using facial expression to determine emotions

People fun = more emotions than other 3 combined
the interaction between people is unique to games as an entertainment medium
also leads to viral distribution

Four Emotions
These are the basics, from which more complex ones can develop

1. Amusement

2. Amici - friendliness, chumminess, caretaking
emotions are evoked by physical actions
gesturing, stroking, petting
"Petting my iPhone"

3. Amidar - admiration, ranking
Mechanics that show off your social status
epic armor in WoW
implies not just personal achievement, but guild respeect
Coi Pond in Farmville
Can only get as a random drop from a gift from another player
Horse Stable in FV
requires lots of friends to help you construct it
players will PAY for amidar, in game currency and real money

4. Amiero - reciprocity, feedback, social bonding
gifting mechanics
I can't benefit myself with this, but I can benefit you (and vice versa)
mechanics where you are encouraged to ask friends for gifts
offer risk to build trust
Social threat of embarrassment, failure, creates tension. Risky, but engaging

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