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Article - 'When Emotions Run Free: Introductory' by Mateui

An item about Plots/Characters posted on Aug 9, 2003

Blurb

Learn two basic ways of how to portray emotion and feeling through emotional recall.

Body

When Emotions Run Free: Introductory
By Mateui

How could you do this to me?!

Emotions. How could we live without them? Let us imagine. Everyone’s face would be blank, for no expressions could be made to portray our thoughts and feelings. Our speech would be monotone.. in essence we would be like robots. For me, that is the most differentiating factor between us and so called robots with humanlike qualities. Robots cannot express emotions, or thoughts, views, or feelings. (Well, not in this day and age.. maybe in the future...)

Well? What does this mean? And how is emotion important in the videogame scene? Let me tell you that it is exponentially important, especially in RPGs, as they are leaning heavily on story and character actions.

So what will this article, and future ones in this series discuss? Well, first, seeing as this is the introductory lesson, we will view how we can express emotions properly, utilizing two different famous methods, and finally learning how to transfer these into the soul of a character. In future articles, two, not one, emotions will be introduced, along with what they revolve around, and their characteristics. Wow. This will be a lot to digest… So let us get started!

Defining Emotions:

This is the definition of emotion: (Respectfully taken from Dictionary.com)

Emotion:
E*mo"tion, n. [L. emovere, emotum, to remove, shake, stir up; e out + movere to move: cf. F. ['e]motion.

A moving of the mind or soul; excitement of the feelings, whether pleasing or painful; disturbance or agitation of mind caused by a specific exciting cause and manifested by some sensible effect on the body.

Also, another interesting paragraph: (Also from Dictionary.com)

“Usage: Emotion, Feeling, Agitation. Feeling is the weaker term, and may be of the body or the mind. Emotion is of the mind alone, being the excited action of some inward susceptibility or feeling; as, an emotion of pity, terror, etc. Agitation may the bodily or mental, and usually arises in the latter case from a vehement struggle between contending desires or emotions.”

Good. It’s been defined properly, so now it must be time to dig into the really intense (<-- Get it? ^_^!) info.


Two Different Methods:

Usually, in the outside world, there is always more than one way to accomplish something. Lucky for us, and me, there are only two ways to create emotion. Well, not really, but these two are somewhat the official ways that are recognized by students and drama teachers. This applies a lot to drama, but it can always be applied to videogames. You see, I actually learned this in drama class this week, and with a companion book to help me, I can steal… uhmm, I mean draw upon guidelines set in it to write this article.. yes, that’s right.

The first recognized method was created by a Russian named something Stanislaviski. He believed that the actor, or the creator of the RPG, in this case, should concentrate on the inner psychological workings and thoughts of the character. If he did that, then the proper emotions would follow.

The second method was taught by James-Lange, who believed quite the opposite to that of Stanislavski. James-Lange practiced that certain body positions, when assumed, would inevitably result in a corresponding emotion. So, for instance, if you would frown, lower your shoulders, and put your head up, the emotion of anger would follow.

Now why is this important at all when dealing with RPG creation? Look at it this way, all of the characters in your game have emotion – whether they are a main character, villain, or NPC, they all must react accordingly to various situations. Sometimes, it is hard to imagine how they would respond to certain stimuli, so acquiring their emotion for a few minutes could help use sympathize with the character and utilize our opinions on how they should react while in an emotional state.

Now to do this, you will have to use one of the above two methods. This will be discussed in the section below.

Recalling a Past Emotional Experience:
When beginning to assume the role of a character, you should first vividly recall a similar emotion that you have experienced in the past. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the exact same situation and emotion, but it should be similar enough that you could give the character in choice a just reaction to everything. For example, you can use other intense emotions to portray something as murder. Have you ever had a strong desire to kill some pests, such as mosquitoes or ants? If you have, and the emotions you experienced were strong in that past situation, then you could successfully use those circumstances.

Ok. First choose your past experience and recall everything that happened. Don’t worry about emotion yet. Instead, try to remember all the details of the situation. Ask yourself these questions: How did I felt? How did the room/place/etc. sound? What objects were in the vicinity? Just thing about these should evoke an emotion or feeling of which you are searching for.

Transferring to the Character:
Ok. You’ve thought long and hard about your past emotional experience. Now you have to transfer these emotions into a character. Now, this is not easy. In fact, I recommend that you get a partner to help you with this step, or you can just talk to yourself if you want...

If with a partner, start up by having him/her say something to you which you would need to react. Usually, this line would already be scripted.. that is, if you’re following a script in making an RPG. Now, respond to what your partner just say, or did. Do not think directly about your emotion. Think about your past experience, what you felt, what caused it, and how you reacted. If you do this, you will be able to use this, as to create a logical action for the character in question.

If you are alone, instead of reacting to a line, simply recall your emotion, what caused it, and so forth, and try to incorporate what you would do, to the character. If you recalled a strong intense emotion, then your actions should easily reflect those that your character would perform.


Conclusion:

I hope you’ve learned something from reading this article. If not, then don’t worry, following up, I’ll cover more diverse emotions in pairs, and focus on them all in one article. They may be emotions and feelings such as love, hatred, pride, sadness... the list goes on and on. So that means this article series will also. ^_^!

I guess this is me signing off... have a chocolicious time, and…

*BELL RINGS*

Class is dismissed.. no homework, but practice the above methods for use in your RPGs. We need more authentic responses and characters in the RPG game community.

BYE BYE! (But I just don’t want to stop talking.. Ohhh.. But I have to… I guess this is the real goodbye.. Until next time.. Wait, I’ll finish with my favorite emoticon: ^_^! Yay, that was fun!)


- Mateui