Friday, March 28, 2008

Emotions Sure Are Peculiar

Many of you know that I study, among other things, emotions and how people respond emotionally to media. But, even though I study them and make predictions about how certain types of media variables will move people emotionally -- doesn't mean I have a clue about how things move me emotionally.

I just got back from our T600 series where today's speaker was a guest from the Singapore MIT Game Lab, whose name was Jesper Juul. The title of his talk was "Games for making friends and enemies: a small theory of games in social contexts." The study of games -- computer games, online games, even boardgames -- has become a big deal here at IU telecom. Since I'm not a gamer, but I have been working with several students who are, I try to attend as many such talks as I can to get a feel for what interests them.

During Juul's talk he was discussing the personal stories that often surround and individuate videogames for people. An example he gave was the game Animal Crossing something which I (of course) had never heard of. But beyond merely talking about the game, he directed us to this website that told a very personal story of Animal Crossing.

Now I'm also a researcher who studies music and its effect on people emotionally. And of course, this animal crossing tragedy has a very touching and emotional soundtrack to it. But there I was in the middle of the T600 meeting room surrounded by a packed house of graduate students and faculty from both IU telecom and SLIS, experiencing a perfect storm of emotional hot buttons. The music. The fact that my wife and kids often circle around the computer monitor at home playing Funkeys. The fact that about a year ago I lost my own mom to MS. Never mind that my mom never played Animal Crossing, never even touched a computer. Didn't matter. Tears came and it took all I could to keep from leaving the room to have a huge cry.

Emotions are peculiar.

No comments: