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There is of course the great irony in affection games. Gamers love games. They truly adore their experiences and their game character’s experiences. They collect their experiences, sharing in that love in online communities, at conventions, and more. The love of games does not translate into love in games. That’s the great irony. We love games, but we don’t often love in games.

All of these reasons highlight what might be the next great opportunity in expanding game audiences and improving their engagement. You could argue that games have been stuck in a kind of Greek chorus formula. We’ve been making games that fit the same basic formula, particularly in mainstream, or AAA game development. The design formula is necessitated by large scale financial investments, by metrics that focus on initial scales, and so forth.

This is not the environment for mushy media, it is the environment that rewards high action, high intensity experiences. It’s the environment that makes big budget action films, far more likely to succeed than whimsical romantic comedies. It’s the environment that favors the epic win over the moving heartbreak. It’s perhaps a product of humanness—of wanting to live a life that is full of success, instead of failure.

But the philosophical aspirations to incorporate more love and affection in games also abound. Love and affection are part of the reality of living. Games about simulating life and death, should probably incorporate one of the markers of a life well lived—a life with love. Those who want their game to be more lifelike, are likely to see the value in making their games more love-like.

Incorporating affection in games also affords for wider demographic appeal. Books and films have centered multi-million-dollar industries in all manner of love and affection, from romantic comedies and steam novels, to sincere explorations of how to love and when to stop. These range from Active fantasies to non-fiction self-help. They help readers and viewers capture the heart of the one they desire, be better to the people around them, or survive the roller coaster of romantic ups and downs.

For those who love games, it’s evident that love in games needs further development. The chapters in this book provide context for how love and affection in games has operated. It includes analysis of well-studied games like the Dragon Age series and in emotionally complex games like Life is Strange. These analyses are provided to help designers and researchers understand how to better offer love and affection in games.

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