Most of the time games make us happy, but sometimes they are frustrating or make us feel sad. They allow us to experience pleasure, success and joy, but they can also yield feelings of frustration, failure, or sorrow from darker themes. In games, we can experience the full range of emotions – both positive and negative.

While a positive experience is often the goal, there are many ways in which negative affect can enhance play. First, the almost masochistic experience of failure and frustration within play can lead to intense positive feelings when overcome. Second, negative emotional experiences, such as feeling uncomfortable, guilty, or sad can also provide additional emotional range that is valued by players. Third, a number of games have emerged in recent years that encourage players to think about difficult or challenging issues that are unlikely to engender positive emotions.

The CHIPLAY 2015 False Dichotomy Workshop focuses on the range of valence in games and invites experts from across fields to contribute to our understanding of the interplay between positive and negative affect within play. The workshop goals are to investigate the interplay between positive and negative affect, identify gaps in our knowledge, determine future research directions, and build the community of people interested in the false dichotomy between positive and negative affect in games. The workshop will consist of a brief introduction game, followed by group brainstorming, small group interaction, and a closing plenary discussion.

Important Dates

Aug 31, 2015: Submissions deadline
Sep 15, 2015: Acceptance notification
Oct 4, 2015: Workshop

Position Papers

Participants are invited to submit a 2 to 4-page position paper (SIG CHI extended abstracts format). For industry submissions we accept slides. We solicit position papers on the following:

  • Emotional experiences in games, including uncomfortable ones.
  • Gaps in our understanding of the affective experience in games.
  • When and why negative experiences are sought by players.
  • The pleasure of failure in games.
  • The use of negative affect in serious games.
  • Ethical issues surrounding designing for negative experiences.
  • Others topics and issues relevant to the affective/emotional experience in games.

Participants are asked to submit their proposals via EasyChair by Aug 31, 2015. A short biography of the author(s) attending the workshop needs to be included (100-150 words). Submission will be peer-reviewed and the organizing committee will select up to 20 participants according to relevance, quality of results, and research diversity. If accepted, at least one author must register for the workshop and for one or more days of the conference.


Max V. Birk, University of Saskatchewan
Ioanna Iacovides, University College London
Daniel Johnson, Queensland University of Technology
Regan L. Mandryk, University of Saskatchewan