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Affect Theory and Serious Games: Using Affect Theory to Analyse How Emotions are Triggered Through Serious Games

By M.K.S. Dekker


In this thesis I aim to answer the question how affect theory can be used to analyse how emotions are triggered through serious games. In order to explain the relevance of introducing concepts from affect theory into the field of game studies, I critically analyse several theories from the field of game studies. I argue how these theories could potentially be used to analyse how serious games trigger emotions, but how these would ultimately have several limitations. As a reaction to these limitations, I proposed a theoretical framework based on affect theory for the purpose of analysing how specific aspects of a game trigger emotions. The theories of this framework include the work of Melissa Gregg and Gregory Seigworth on the concept of affect in general and the relational aspects of this concept, the theories of Bruno Latour on the body as an interface which can be developed and trained to be affected, and the theories of Anna Gibbs on imitation and mimicry. I first describe this theoretical framework, arguing how it becomes possible to analyse how formal aspects of serious games evoke emotions with the help of four angles. These are the angles of agency, rhythm, temporal development and relationality. I demonstrated how this theoretical framework could be used by conducting a textual analysis of the serious games The Migrant's Trail, Every Day the Same Dream and My Cotton Picking Life with the help of this framework. With these theories as a framework, it becomes possible to analyse which moments of a game are the most likely to trigger affective reactions, and thus which moments are likely to trigger emotions of a higher intensity relative to the rest of the game

Topics: Affect, affect theory, emotions, serious games, games for change, moments of potential becoming, agency, rhythm, temporal development, relationality
Year: 2016
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