The Tragedy of Betrayal: How the Design of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus Elicits Emotion


DiGRA '15 - Proceedings of the 2015 DiGRA International Conference
Digital Games Research Association, May, 2015
Volume: 12
ISBN / ISNN: ISSN 2342-9666

Ico and Shadow of the Colossus are two games of high critical acclaim that are well known for their emotional affect – particularly because some of those emotions are unusual amongst digital games. Analysis of emotion in video games often focuses on narrative and representative elements, and emotions regularly experienced by gamers such as frustration, victory, joy of discovery etc. This paper uses close textual analysis with support from cognitive theories of emotion to analyse the ludic and mechanical, in addition to representative and narrative, qualities of these games. By doing so it is shown how guilt, grief and loneliness have more chance of being elicited from the player, with emphasis on the use of ambiguity and violation of player expectations. It is hoped that this approach will encourage further work of this type in an area so that both theoretical work and future development might benefit.