Over at next-gen.biz, there’s a piece up by N’Gai Croal about evoking emotions via gameplay. But not just any old emotions.

What he’s after is discomfort. Unease. Or, in another word, guilt. The feeling that some (or maybe most) of what you’re doing isn’t right. He gives as an example his experience with the Little Sisters of Bioshock.

He already knew about the harvest/don’t harvest choice, and had decided beforehand he was gonna go for the harvest. Only when the time came, he suddenly felt some unpleasant emotions about it and hesitated. Later, for another reason, he felt even worse.

As he says, this type of emotional content is rare in games, and for good reason. We like to be the “hero” most of the time. Being made uncomfortable about our choices doesn’t fit in with that role.

Of course, there are those games that allow for “evil” play, but again, it’s rare for players to report feeling especially bad about this or that action.

The question to consider is whether it’s a good thing to have such feelings during a game. Do we, as players, want to experience doubt or guilt over what we’ve done?

If the idea of playing a game is “fun”, having a “good time”, do such emotions fit in with that? Or would they take the edge off? Would they make you worry and hesitate over choices?

Or would it not matter too much? After all, there were some players of Bioshock, for instance, who had no qualms about harvesting the Little Sisters. And besides, isn’t this “just a game” after all? Nothing is real in it.

While you consider that, check out Ngai’s post.

Gaming Discomfort on next-gen.biz