Sensory Affect

Emotional connection to environmental issues can be approached through design of visual art, audio or force feedback.


A designer wants to show the impact of air pollution in modern day major cities. To do so subtly, the designer includes a significant amount of coughing from characters. From background characters coughing as they pass to the main character coughing during a cutscene, the small auditory reminder that the characters are impacted every day by the pollution is ever-present.


  • Causing connection (to a character through art) or distress (for a situation) within the game can motivate emotional connection to similar issues, places, or people in the real world.
  • Individuals are more likely to form pro-environmental feelings, if they form emotional connections to specific places or people, even in-game places or people (see Connection to Specifics). 


  • Sensory affect can be used to subtly introduce commentary into a game through audio or visual elements.
  • The ideal outcome of sensory affect is an increased emotional connection to environmental issues, often through proxy emotional attachments to characters or places within the game. To help players act on this connection, designers can include messaging on how players can protect real world analogues of these in-game places or characters.
  • Similar to forced discomfort, this process can involve intentionally breaking the player-designer trust agreement. 

From the Environmental Game Design Playbook
– by IGDA Climate SIG