During Sony's unveiling of the Playstation 4 there were a lot of things shown that pointed at the future of videogames. However, when David Caged walked on stage and said that the solution for bringing more emotion to games is to create characters higher polygon counts, I couldn't help but let out a sigh of disappointment. Yes, from a technical perspective its great to see the wrinkles on a character's face or see their lips quiver but just because a character looks sad doesn't necessarily mean the player will feel sad.
Two games instantly came to mind while David Cage was giving his presentation. These games don't graphical push realism but deliver great emotional experiences, TellTale's The Walking Dead and ThatGameCompany's Journey. Now according to David Cage's logic its impossible for these two games to deliver more emotion than a game like Mass Effect, I disagree. These games, while not graphically powerful, deliver as much if not more emotion than some AAA titles out there. They do this by building a great world and great characters.
The characters in Journey have no facial features aside from eyes, yet its the most emotional game I've ever played. It creates emotion through its world with things like level design, color palettes, musical scores, art style and overall game design. For example, a level thats takes place underground with a dark blue color palette and little to no music elicits a sense of worry. However a level where you're shot up onto the surface, sunlight blinds the screen, music kicks in and you start to feel relieved and happy. Being introduced to another anonymus player after being alone for a level gives a sense of belonging. All this from a character with no wrinkles on its face.
The Walking Dead delivers emotion through narrative and dialogue. The polygon count of The Walking Dead is nowhere near the level of a game like Final Fantasy 13 but I've felt more connection with Lee and Clementine than I did with Vanille or Hope. What comes out of a character's mouth is more important than how the mouth looks.
Honestly I hope David Cage understands that in order to bring more emotion what needs to change in the next-generation isn't the amount of polygons but the quality of narrative, dialogue and world design.