Regret and Shame

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Regret in Gaming

On a deeper level than selling an important item or getting the wrong upgrade, what about actions in gameplay that cause regret and or shame in the player? How can developers use this to further the emotional connection between the player and the game? When is it effective and when is it frustrating?

A good example of a game with this theme would be "Spec Ops:The Line", where the horror of the game comes from forcing the player to endure uncompromising and increasingly meaningless combat, difficult and no-win choice scenarios, and the violent shift in tone in the characters.

  • One challenge is making gamers regret choices they actually made; not actions they took as part of the plot. I don't know if a gamer can really regret, for example, killing Andrew Ryan in Bioshock and trusting Atlas. The player had no choice in the matter.RPGs, due to their emphasis on player choice, are much better at eliciting regret than a linear shooter in my opinion. Take Mass Effect. The player must choose either Tali or Legion, and unless the player has high enough karma to defuse the situation, must watch as one of these colorful fan-favorites die. Suddenly, the player regrets not trying harder to make Tali see Legion as an ally, or Legion see Tali as a refugee.Sometimes these regrets are smaller too. For example, should you really have spent money on Oblivion's horse armor?So, my point is: the author should show a difference between scripted "choices" and if the resulting regret should be considered lesser in some way than regret elicited from a real choice the player made earlier on. – Hunter 5 years ago
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  • Also using Bioshock as an example, I've heard that of the people who chose to harvest the Little Sisters, some felt intense shame and regret later on in the game. When Jack is in Tenenbaum's sanctuary, those who harvested the Little Sisters would be treated with fear and caution; the girls in the sanctuary are clearly afraid of him. Some players felt so ashamed at this point that they quit the game in order to start over from the very beginning. – DankileLin 5 years ago
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  • Games like "Heavy Rain," "Until Dawn," and "Indigo Prophecy" rely on this sense of making the "right" choice as well. – Tarben 4 years ago
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