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Writing the Romance-able NPC: ICING on the Content Cake Heidi McDonald Game Designer, Schell Games LLC.

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Presentation on theme: "Writing the Romance-able NPC: ICING on the Content Cake Heidi McDonald Game Designer, Schell Games LLC."— Presentation transcript:

1 Writing the Romance-able NPC: ICING on the Content Cake Heidi McDonald Game Designer, Schell Games LLC




5 COM106 Assignment: Examine an area of media that interests you and report on your results. ZOMG!!! I can studiez GAMEZ for GRADEZ!

6 Learn about player motivation and behavior Learn how important NPC romance actually is Identify patterns and models that can help improve NPC romance

7 1.Analyzed my own gaming behavior. 2.Asked a few other people about their gaming behavior. 3.Realized…hey, this could be a legit study!





12 Jesse Schell Jennifer Brandes Hepler Sheri Graner Ray Yes! You might be on to something! Study it some more! Cool! You go for it, girlfriend! Need help with your survey questions? No, BioWare doesnt collect data like this. But if you happen to collect some…let us know!

13 PROs + Easy design + Easy participation + Anonymous + Data makes sense CONs -Honesty-dependent -Not scientific -People can skip questions -People can re-take survey

14 525 Respondents All gamers and/or game developers 62% female, 33% male 71% straight 57% romantically attached 85% with a 40% majority of 18-24

15 FEMALE MALE What gender character do you prefer to play when you are playing a single-player RPG? Again: Respondents are 62% female, 33% male in real life. But 69% prefer to play a female!

16 (This finding supports Nick Yees workNick Yees work.)

17 Do you, or would you ever role play a character with a gender different to your real-life gender? Again: Respondents are 62% female, 33% male in real life. Only 18% said NEVER, meaning that 82% of players are changing it up at least some of the time! Sometimes Often Never Always

18 Do you, or would you ever romance a different gender character than you would in real life? Often Always Sometimes Never

19 Which romance combinations have you, do you, or would you play? Male Player, Female NPC Male Player, Male NPC Female Player, Male NPC Female Player, Female NPC

20 The process of appropriating another identity on the web, and more specifically, an identity involving another gender and/or race other than one's own, particularly on the internet and in video games. ~Lisa Nakamura

21 Lets flip it on its head: Can Identity Tourism be a GOOD thing?


23 Identity Tourism CAN BE a good thing that helps peoples self-awareness and tolerance.

24 How important is romance to your overall experience in a single-player RPG? Somewhat Take or Leave Very Not much Not at all

25 89% romance to see where the narrative goes. 80% say romances add depth to their gameplay. 76% romance for entertainment and to experience as much content as possible. 60% HAVE had felt connection to a romance-able NPC. 53% find NPC romance emotionally stimulating.

26 86% NPCs personality 77% Dialogue 71% Integration of romance into game narrative 65% Voice/accent 55% NPCs back story 49% Facial features 32% Body type


28 Romance is important in single-player RPGs.






34 Dr. Jane McGonigals TED TalkDr. Jane McGonigals TED Talk, based on her book.


36 Use these!

37 Dr. Carolyn Kaufmans workDr. Carolyn Kaufmans work in using Jungian Archetype and the concept of the Shadow Personality in romance writing.

38 Chaste Childish Helpless Needy Religious


40 Use these!

41 Jason VandenBerghe's "5 Domains of Play" Lecture at GDC 2012Jason VandenBerghe's "5 Domains of Play" Lecture at GDC 2012 using Big 5 Theory to address player motivation.

42 Big 5 Category Player Motivation Type of Romance Openness Novelty Unconventional characteristics with strange or funny backstories Low OpennessPredictability More predictable, archetypal ConscientiousnessChallenge "Hard to get" character that must be actively wooed and won Low C-Score Ease of play Damsel in distress to be saved ExtravtertedStimulation Lots of fun banter Low ExtravertedLow Social EngagementAggressive NPC AgreeablenessHarmony Uncomplicated romance that ends well every time Low AgreeablenessDiscord Tumultuous romance such as NeuroticismThreat Dark stories or bad endings

43 Heidis Research Gaming Scholarship Writing Scholarship


45 Character development Interactive component Player perspective Story construction Ending

46 nclusiveness (Lisa Nakamura) haracter perspective (Dr. Jane McGonigal) nterference (Dr. Carolyn Kaufman) ot using universally-hated descriptors (Heidis research) ratifying endings (Jason VandenBerghe)

47 1.People like experimenting 2.Romance is important 3.We can make tastier ICING on the content cake

48 Jesse Schell / Schell Games / ETC Sheri Graner Ray / Schell Games Schell Games Co-Workers Jennifer Brandes Hepler / BioWare BioWare Social Network Brenda Garno / LootDrop Jason VandenBerghe / UbiSoft The CAs from GDC 2012 Feminists in Games Dr. Katie Cruger / Chatham University Dr. Prajna Paramita Parasher / Chatham University Alex McPhearson / Catalina Games My kids, who taught me to keep asking why

49 WORKS CITED: Alexander, Phill. "He's The Kind of Girl Who Wants Matching Daggers." World of Warcraft and Philosophy. By Luke Cuddy and John Nordlinger. Chicago: Open Court, Print. Benedetti, Winda. "Is 'World of Warcraft' the Future of Online Dating?" Ingame. Msnbc Digital Network, Web. 21 Mar Kaufman, Dr. Carolyn. Archetype: The Fiction Writer's Guide to Psychology. Archetype Writing, Web. 26 Mar "Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs." Motivation Theory. Project Management Course, Web. 21 Mar McGonigal, Jane. "Gaming Can Make a Better World." TED2010, Long Beach, CA. 18 Feb Lecture. Nakamura, Lisa. Cybertypes: Race, Ethnicity, and Identity on the Internet. New York: Routledge, Print. Rosenbloom, Stephanie. "It's Love at First Kill." The New York Times. The New York Times Company, 22 Apr Web. 21 Mar "The Attitude-Behaviour Gap: Why We Say One Thing But Do The Opposite." PsyBlog. PsyBlog, 24 Mar Web. 23 Mar VandenBerghe, Jason. "The Five Domains of Play." Game Developers' Conference. Moscone Convention Center, San Francisco, CA. 7 March Lecture. Heidi ~

50 Thank You! Heidi

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