An Impression of Home: Player Nostalgia and the Impulse to Explore Game Worlds


DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG
Dundee, Scotland: Digital Games Research Association and Society for the Advancement of the Science of Digital Games, August, 2016
Number: 1
Volume: 13
ISBN / ISNN: ISSN 2342-9666

In this paper I argue that there is a need for game studies to look beyond nostalgia as a period style or form of remediation, and to more carefully consider the role of nostalgia as an affective state experienced by players. Specifically, I argue that nostalgia is a positive emotional response that can be elicited in players without the need to embed period or historical referents in games. Extending this, I argue that the experience of nostalgia might enhance player motivation to explore game spaces, which has repercussions for game design. This paper makes use of existing literature on the psychology and aesthetic qualities of nostalgia to develop an initial theoretical basis for the study. To explore the implications of affective nostalgia, a case study analysis of two recent games is presented. Both of these games are dependent upon player motivation to explore their game worlds.