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Ambivalence Toward a Situation

Consider a different hypothetical game case study.

You're training to be the pilot of a space fighter. After the game's training level, you take a test—and pass, but don't score quite high enough to make the grade. So as the game begins (the first level after the training level), you're stuck at the helm of a cargo ship.

At this point, your character—and probably you, the player—aren't too happy—especially when you learn your first job is to ferry two children to a distant planet. You wanted to command a space fighter but now you're just a babysitter!

Very soon into the journey, when you look over your shoulder, you spot the children levitating objects! These kids have a secret power that makes them targets for every nasty human and creature in the universe— including the one who's currently breaking into your ship from another dimension.

You want action? You've got it, for in about two seconds you and that creature will be in a heated battle over those kids.

The scene is emotionally complex, because the job you thought was awful is beginning to look a lot more intriguing.

Later in the game, simply as a Role Induction Technique (a technique that makes you more willing to adopt your role, described in Chapter 2.19), we'll throw in a plot twist. That twist is that you'll learn that you were picked for this assignment not because you failed your test, but because of your outstanding abilities and potential. You weren't told at the time because everything about these two children is classified and revealed only on a need-to-know basis. So it turns out that being picked for this "baby-sitting" mission was really a very high honor.


This is actually is harder to pull off than it might first seem. The player will suspect that this job isn't awful, anticipating that although he's merely ferrying kids, this will soon turn into some kind of adventure. To make the emotional experience work, it might be worth taking a risk and really have the player perform some drudgery. It would only need to go on for a few minutes, in order to build up some frustration in the player. (Testing the game would reveal the right duration of this drudgery.)

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