I have recently been wondering, how can you "induce player behaviour" in a video game

An example of what I am thinking of is when a player uses an ability like "rage" or "berserk" where their character should lose rationality, by using visuals and sound I want to make the player think less about strategy or tactics.

It would be similar to a status effect but it wouldnt be a status effect in the traditional sense. It would be something more psychological which makes the player (ie. the human playing the game) where it induces emotions. The status would not effect the avatar itself, it should change visuals and sound without getting in their way but still inducing a "behaviour" of not thinking through things before doing it.

How should I go about learning something like this and how should it be implemented to a game?

Keep in mind, the idea of "berserk" is simply an example, I intend to apply this to abilities which induce serenity, curiosity and calmness later on.

Is there a better way to define this in terms of game design?

Is there any place I can read about this in effect or something similar?

What are the positive and negative effects on both the game and the player when using this? How can it these effects be avoided or lessened over time?

  • \$\begingroup\$ In particular, I am looking for articles or research done which may mention such things \$\endgroup\$
    – AussieNote
    Commented Mar 22 at 1:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not exactly sure what you mean, but you could use special effects to induce emotions, whenever I think of a rage effect, I think lots shake for example. \$\endgroup\$
    – Pow
    Commented Mar 22 at 9:41
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Please note that this community aims to be a source of information in itself and not just a link directory. Which is why it is discouraged to answer questions by posting nothing but links to articles or research. Answers should instead provide the requested information in the answer itself. \$\endgroup\$
    – Philipp
    Commented Mar 22 at 12:21

2 Answers 2


Reward and punishment.

If you want the player to behave in a certain way, then the two game design tools that are usually most effective are to reward the behavior you want and punish the behavior you don't want.

So how could you design a reward and punishment mechanic that encourages a particularly aggressive playstyle? You didn't even say what genre your game is in, so I can only guess what options you have in your design space. So I am just going to assume you are developing a game with a 3rd person hack&slash combat system like Dark Souls or God of War.

One thing you could do is reward the player for performing lots of attacks and/or kills in a short amount of time while under the "Berserk" condition. For example by giving them a temporary damage boost for it that grows even more the more they attack and kill, generating a positive feedback loop. Similar you could discourage defensive actions like blocking, dodging or running away by punishing the player for those actions. For example by taking away the damage bonus they accumulated through aggressive behavior.

You also need to make sure that any of the usual punishments you might have in place to discourage too aggressive behavior are mitigated or even removed while in the Berserk state. For example, when the player isn't supposed to dodge or block while in the Berserker state, then they need some other way to mitigate damage. So you might want to consider to grant them some damage reduction and stagger immunity as well while in that state.

If you do all this, then you might notice that the berserker state is indeed pretty overpowered: The player does more damage, takes less damage and doesn't need to concern themselves with damage mitigation. While such a power trip can be very satisfying for a short duration, allowing the player to be in that state permanently would trivialize the game. So you either need to limit the duration the player can spend berserking, or you need to add some incentive for not berserking. What incentive? Again, reward and punishment are the keys. Punish the player for spending too much time in the berserker state or reward them for overcoming challenges without using the berserker mode.

  • \$\begingroup\$ A similar example that comes to mind is a mission in Splinter Cell: Conviction. The player infiltrates the spy agency their character used to work for, and uncovers evidence of a massive betrayal committed against them. They burn it down in a cold, numb, murderous rage, eliminating anything in their path. The game simulates this by taking the "mark and execute" ability for instant automatic headshots, that usually needs to be "charged up" through regular takedowns, and making it unlimited. Then throwing waves of the hardest enemies in the game at the player, which they cut through like butter. \$\endgroup\$
    – DMGregory
    Commented Mar 22 at 15:57

I can’t direct you to any studies or academic research but, generally you can look at things like the Persona series where the player loses “some” control of their character/party. When the “Rage” status is put on somebody they attack mindlessly at the person they were attacking. Depending on what genre you are looking for, maybe that’s the key for you.

On how to implement it with sound, music, and visuals depends. Do you want it to be a debuff? Something where you go “oh god how do i unangry” or something like doom where it’s an on command buff where you just remove all recast time(cooldown) on your abilities and just go haywire?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Do you want it to be an on demand buff? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 22 at 2:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ It wouldnt be a status effect in the traditional sense, would be something more psychological which makes the player (ie. the human playing the game) where it induces emotions. The status would not effect the avatar itself, it should change visuals and sound without getting in their way but still inducing a "behaviour" of not thinking through things before doing it. Also added this to the question for depth. \$\endgroup\$
    – AussieNote
    Commented Mar 22 at 2:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah, yes. That type of ability is called dragon install. Where you get stronger for a set amount of time. It encourages the player to deal as much damage in their given time. It’s sent my heart rate to the moon sometimes. It can implemented as one of those “fatal damage” unlocks. Where your character dies, and he wakes up from sheer anger. Edit: Spartan Rage from God of War 4 & 5 \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 22 at 2:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is there any technical and psycological methods to induce this to the player with using only visuals and sound, in a way that changes how the user's behaviour is in relation to this? Its just an idea which I hypothesized was possible, where the user's behaviour towards the current situation can be induced by the game, instead of logic being the motivation like more damage, it would be an emotional motivator such as an in game environment which causes urgency. \$\endgroup\$
    – AussieNote
    Commented Mar 22 at 2:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ hmmm. 2 options: the “Danger!” or “Death’s Door” mechanic or “Burst!” mechanic. Either you can give someone a few seconds of invulnerability, allowing them to heal up, or get healed by their party members right before they are about to die. Burst is a mechanic where you blast away everyone around you for a resource. It’s a tool to get the enemies off the player. You could allow the player to get stun locked and also give the player a tool to get everyone off them. I think they’ll get pretty pissed off at the enemies \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 22 at 3:20

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