People play games for the experience, and one of the aims of player experience research is to understand what constitutes and contributes to positive gaming experiences. Emotionally challenging and uncomfortable game play experiences have been largely neglected, as they are seemingly at odds with the field’s focus on fun and positive affect. We argue that the positively­ biased perspective on desirable emotions in games misses out on opportunities that the interplay between positive and negative emotions offers.

A previous successful workshop at CHI PLAY 2015 covered this missed opportunity by focusing on the false dichotomy between positive and negative affect. The proposed workshop is a continuation of this effort, putting the spotlight on the complexity of emotional experience, beyond purely positive affect, and how it evolves throughout gameplay.

Crucially, a central aspect of this workshop is to get participants thinking more about design and evaluation of these types of experiences, by allowing hands­on game design exercise for the examined emotional experiences.

The goal of the CHI PLAY 2016 Designing for Emotional Complexity in Games Workshop is to explore the role of complex emotional experiences in players’ overall evaluation of their game experience and the tools at our disposal to design for specific emotional experiences.

The workshop will consist of four units, in which the participating experts will present, discuss, and build on their collective knowledge to create a better understanding of how the interplay of emotions and game mechanics can lead to specific overall emotional experiences.

Position Papers

Participants are invited to submit a 4­-page position paper (SIGCHI extended abstracts format). For industry submissions we accept slides. We solicit position papers on the following:

● Game mechanics for emotive game design, which afford emotional experiences in games, including uncomfortable ones.

● Gaps in our understanding of the range and trajectories of affective experience in games.

● When and why negative experiences are sought by players.

● The pleasure of failure and repeated failure in games.

● The use of negative affect in serious games.

● Ethical issues surrounding designing for negative experiences.

● Practitioner’s post-­mortem on game design and testing for emotional experiences.

● Techniques to evaluate emotional experiences.

● Other topics and issues relevant to the affective/emotional experience in games.

Participants are asked to submit their position papers via EasyChair by July 26th, 2016. A short biography of the author(s) attending the workshop needs to be included (100-­150 words). Submission will be peer­-reviewed and the organizing committee will select up to 20 participants according to relevance, quality of results, and research diversity. If accepted, at least one author must register for the workshop and for one or more days of the conference.

Important Dates

26th July, 2016: Submissions deadline

12th August, 2016: Acceptance notification

16th October, 2016: Workshop


Elisa D. Mekler, University of Basel

Stefan Rank, Drexel University

Sharon T. Steinemann, University of Basel

Max V. Birk, University of Saskatchewan

Ioanna Iacovides, The Open University