Aesthetic Manipulations

Trick questions or toying with emotions or our subconscious desires.

There are a number of ways that games can use text, graphics or sounds to subconsciously influence our decisions.

1) Toying with Emotions - Games may make players feel bad for making a choice or rejecting an offer. For example, maybe the point of the game is to save cute little bunnies from the evil foxes. When you lose a level, the game may show you a picture of a sad little bunny and say something like "Spend 2 coins and save this little bunny." Even though you know it's not a real bunny, it is still toying with your emotions and trying to get you to spend money on the game. Another example could be to make you feel bad for not helping your team. Because of social pressure, the game can emphasize that you are letting your team down to get you to play more.

2) Trick Questions - Sometimes games try to trick you into doing something. Maybe they give you an option to spend coins on something, but they make the "Yes" button red instead of green. We are habituated to press a red button to cancel something, so mixing the colors up can confuse us into pushing the wrong button. Other ways of tricking us is to make one button bigger than the other. People are more likely to click the bigger button. Using checkboxes to opt-out of something is also a way trick people, since checkboxes are usually used to opt-in.

3) Subconscious Associations - People like cute things or tasty things. This is why a lot of games use cute animals or candy imagery. In-game candy attracts the subconscious desire for sweets and makes the game more desirable.

4) Over-the-top Feedback - This is most exemplified by a casino floor. The constant ringing and dinging and over the top sounds of people winning huge jackpots toys with our emotions. Games do this by using extreme graphics, sounds and vibration when you win or lose.
Citations and SourcesUXP2 Dark Patterns
Why are Video Games Addictive?


Examples

FINAL FANTASY Record Keeper FINAL FANTASY Record Keeper
"Final Fantasy characters"

FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS
"Final Fantasy characters are used to sell the game"

ISEKAI:Demon Waifu ISEKAI:Demon Waifu
"Waifus"

Gardenscapes Gardenscapes
"If you've not played the game for a while the characters may make a guilt tripping remark."

Town of Salem - The Coven Town of Salem - The Coven
"The game has cute or cruel characters or other items."

Choice of Robots Choice of Robots
"Mostly in terms of story, however. It can be quite dramatic."

Dream Girlfriend Dream Girlfriend
"Yes? Payment and announcements are encouraged through cute Japanese characters. It's half a dating sim-half Tamagotchi virtual pet."

Lovestruck Choose Your Romance Lovestruck Choose Your Romance
"Promotions are teasered by showcasing the love interests"

Photographs - Puzzle Stories Photographs - Puzzle Stories
"It's the concept of the game. It's not negative."

Epic Seven Epic Seven
"The 2D animations, art, characters, voices, and story are very good which keeps a lot of players hooked."