Whatever the emotional experience, it's up to them: Insights from designers of emotionally impactful games

Alena Denisova, Julia Ayumi Bopp, Thuy Duong Nguyen, Elisa D. Mekler

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Emotionally impactful game experiences have garnered increasing interest within HCI games research. Yet the perspectives of designers have, to date, remained largely overlooked. We interviewed 14 indie game designers regarding their values and practices in designing emotionally impactful games. Counter to the focus of recent player experience (PX) studies, we fnd that while designers typically have a clear vision for the intended emotional impact, they aim for their games to provide a space for players to have their own personal experiences and interpretations. Despite this player-centric orientation, players were rarely involved before and during the production to evaluate the emotional experience. Based on these fndings, we identify gaps between design practice and PX research, raise open questions around the design and evaluation of emotionally impactful game experiences, and outline opportunities for HCI games research to more productively support game designers.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCHI 2021 - Proceedings of the 2021 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Subtitle of host publicationMaking Waves, Combining Strengths
ISBN (Electronic)9781450380966
Publication statusPublished - 6 May 2021
Event10th International Conference on Materials Processing and Characterisation, ICMPC 2020 - Mathura, U.P., India
Duration: 21 Feb 202023 Feb 2020

Publication series

NameConference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings


Conference10th International Conference on Materials Processing and Characterisation, ICMPC 2020
CityMathura, U.P.

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 ACM.


  • Agency
  • Design practice
  • Emotion
  • Emotional challenge
  • Emotionally impactful games
  • Game designer
  • Player experience
  • Video games

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