The Note book: A touching story about one man and his laptop

Affective computing gives new meaning to the phrase ” I love my phone”. As eccentric as this field may appear it is relevant because there is already clearly an affective element to human-computer interaction.  Just try and pry the ps3 controller out of my roommates hand and see if you don’t witness a frightening display of human emotion. not unlike the one in this viral video.

The boy in this video was freaking out because his mom allegedly cancelled his world of warcraft account, and he then came to the conclusion that there was little purpose left in his life. It is debatable whether or not this video is real but regardless of its legitimacy, the reaction displayed is far from unusual. There may not be a significant cohort of teenagers sticking remote controls up their buts. There are, however, a large number of people, who are addicted to video games. My roommate blatantly attributes his lacklustre performance in second year to his subscription to world of warcraft. He isn’t a psych major, but even he could see the abusive way he began to emotionally attach to this virtual world. For him, the allure of the game came from the ease with which he could attain gratification and rewards. In the real world sometimes you work hard and you still fail, and there are no trophies for runner-up. The gaming world is different. you can receive equal output for your input. Video games can begin to disrupt your life when you begin to prioritise the obtainable rewards in the game over the seemingly unattainable ones in the real world. I mean why study for that exam that I might pass when I can stay up all night and find the jewel of taragon, and win a chest full of rubies for my efforts.  This example perfectly exemplifies incentive  theory. This behaviourist theory posits that our behaviour is motivated by incentives in our external environment, whether negative or positive. Our perception of our ability to obtain rewards is  a factor in our behavioural change as well. An article from the American psychological Association found that people are even able to form emotional relationships with the characters within video games.

An article from the American psychological Association found that people are even able to form emotional relationships with the characters within video games. According to Jamie Maddigan these are parasocial relationships and are made possible when the figure is physically attractive, socially attractive(ie friendly), and task  attractive (ie useful). This effect is increased when the figure addresses the viewer directly, verbally and non-verbally, and if the figure is relatable much like the character pictured below.


This phenomenon is revealing for designers looking to make the user experience more pleasurable. Perhaps if the Microsoft’s clippy design would have been more appealing, and relatable if  Beyonce was the one poping up to remind us of our errors. we’ll never know now. As for the users that find that technology seems to impede their life goals, my suggestion would be to step away from the interface. Virtual rewards may be obtainable, but I suspect that they are not nearly as fulfilling.


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