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?


Mighty DOOM Mighty DOOM
"You can have "free" stuff. In exchange of watching ads."

Beatstar - Touch Your Music Beatstar - Touch Your Music
"Getting a new high score plays a chime. New stars make noise on the result screen and home screen. Getting a new medal plays a satisfying sound effect, and has the announcer announce the type of medal you earned. When you move down an event leaderboard, you hear a specific sound effect that will eventually instill negative emotions."

Chuzzle 2 Chuzzle 2
"the chuzzles are used as minigame icons and when you fail one, it looks very sad. when youve failed 3 times, the other chuzzles on the map get angry. in the chuzzarium, if the chuzzles haven't been fed they hop around looking very sad"

Kawaii Home Design Kawaii Home Design
"They have those kawaii little characters everywhere, telling you to "donate materials to help a friend in need" or to remind you that "the more you play, the better you'll get"."

Cats&Soup Cats&Soup
"The game is based around cute cats."

Cat Game - The Cats Collector! Cat Game - The Cats Collector!
"Every sound is rewarding and sounds like slot machines. The entire game is based on extremely cute and emotional animated cats and other animals."

Minecraft Minecraft
"Animals make noises when they take damage."

Zombie Frontier 3: Sniper FPS Zombie Frontier 3: Sniper FPS
"Weapon skin (2nd skin can be obtained by upgrading weapon body to level 3, 3rd skin can be obtained only by opening gold crate (i forgot what its called) which you can only get from winning a tournament)"

Vampire Survivors Vampire Survivors
"The game has treasure chests that give you 1, 3, or 5 items, with better chests having flashier animations and music."

Nameless Cat Nameless Cat
"character is a cat trying to get home to its owner, the story is about the various friends and foes it meets along the way. i want to finish the game so that i find out what happens"