It won’t be long before video games will be able to portray a greater level of emotion than human beings express in real life.
That’s the bold prediction from iconic designer Hideo Kojima, who recounted his life’s work striving to increasingly immerse players in his virtual worlds during an opening keynote discussion with PS4 system architect Mark Cerny at Develop: Brighton
“Even in direct contact from one real human being to another it’s hard to convey emotion,” Kojima observed.
“Our technology allows us to convey some emotions, but as we get nearer to the ability to add through technology the ability to portray more expression and things such as temperature it will soon be easier to reach out through games online than actual interaction between human beings.
“We’re really close to the point when it will be easier to get emotions through games than actual people.”
Kojima offered the evolution of the Metal Gear series as an example of the improving ability of technology to help players connect to game narratives and mechanics – and predicted that virtual reality would usher in the next major step in depicting emotion in games.
“In the original Metal Gear you could only set a camera from a top angle,” he recalled. “[The arrival of] 3D polygons [with the original PlayStation] allowed players to experience what it’s like under a table or inside a locker.
“With VR you can get rid of this framed square, look up, look down, and give that experience to the player. That changes everything – I think the possibilities are infinite.”
The Death Stranding creator also gave his thoughts on the relationship between the mediums of film and games, acknowledging the difficulty in sparking certain emotional reactions in interactive entertainment.
“In movies it’s rather easy to lead your empathy to have people relate to what you meant them to feel,” Kojima explained. “If you show the film to 100 people they will all see the same thing and experience what you want to them to experience.
“In games you don’t know what the player is going to experience because gamers can all do something different. So I put in all these elements without the user realising they’re there.”