Affection Games in Digital Play: A Content Analysis of Web Playable Games


Affection games are ludic experiences in which players are required to express culturally recognized expressions of liking as a primary goal in the game. Interestingly, while the physical world of analog play has many such activities, the digital world has been relatively limited in affording players the ability to express affection as the primary game goal. Affection games in digital play exist as somewhat esoteric clusters across a variety of cultures and super genres. This paper defragments the diverse set of affection games, collecting, cataloging and describing the games in detail. The paper provides a content analysis of affection games and an overview of their preponderance on the web. This paper organizes affection games into a simple classification based on their game verbs. These are flirting, hugging, kissing, and sexual affection. The content analysis provides the attributes through which the affection games are clustered. Notable patterns from the content analysis include indications that kissing and sexual affection are most common, while hugging games are the rarest. There is also a strong coupling of targeted gender identification and the types of affection made playable. These patterns are indicated both in the spaces in which they are distributed and in their content. As the game industry and the academic research community look for new ways to understand and engage wider demographics, the lessons learned from studying affection games may prove useful. Affection games reveal cultural values, taboo, and may potentially expand the space of pro-social play.