Sunday, July 17, 2011

Shadow Emotions and Primary Emotions

Interesting article on the evocation of emotions in fictional media, contrasting the emotions evoked by videogames with those evoked by, say, the novel. 

The argument here is that video games can evoke 'real' ('primary') emotions, such as loss and anger; whereas other fictional media can only evoke 'shadow' emotions - empathic feelings experienced at one remove, hence weaker. 

(In fact, videogames designers often go all out to evoke more of these 'shadow' emotions, by utilising the strategies of traditional narrative and framing the game experience with them.) 

I can see that there is a counter-argument to be made here, exposed by a change of terminology: if we call them empathic emotions, rather than shadow emotions, then we stress their social function - it's the 'higher' response of feeling-for-another, rather than the 'selfish' emotion for oneself. 

Of course one can feel 'real' loss from a book, if one loses the physical book - but is this feeling more valid than the empathic loss felt about a character's death?  Perhaps I'm cheating here by shifting diegesis. 

Shadow Emotions and Primary Emotions

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