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?


Examples

Simon’s Cat Crunch Time - Puzzle Adventure! Simon’s Cat Crunch Time - Puzzle Adventure!
"Kitties are hungry!"

Princess Connect! Re: Dive Princess Connect! Re: Dive
"Cute anime girls. You can set your favourite girl to send notifications to you."

Honkai Impact 3rd Honkai Impact 3rd
"When returning to the game after many months away, there is a cutscene where one of the long-standing characters has a heart-to-heart conversation about your absence and return."

Make More! Make More!
"Pop-culture references on worker skins"

Legends of Runeterra Legends of Runeterra
"Shows cosmetics of other players and limited default emote responses."

Castle Cats:  Idle Hero RPG Castle Cats: Idle Hero RPG
"The cats can be cute and some have emotional back stories or have dialogue that is emotional."

F1 Manager F1 Manager
"You mean repetitive gold ring sounds and smashes when you open a lootbox ? So yes"

Cookie Run: OvenBreak Cookie Run: OvenBreak
"Constantly. Too many examples to name."

Genshin Impact Genshin Impact
"There are special graphics and sounds associated with higher rated rewards from the gacha."

AdVenture Capitalist AdVenture Capitalist
"'cha-ching' noises when you buy something in game like an upgrade. When you go into the 'gold' (premium currency) part of the shop, it asks if you are 'feeling indulgent'. The first-time buyer offers say they are for "savvy capitalists"."