Gamers, no matter how casual or enthusiastic, will know the importance of interaction. Now, games come with incredible character dialogue, some of them even varying depending on what actions you take in the game. Decently-created RPG’s proudly have this feature. So do real-time strategies, with cinematics and character portraits.
For those unfamiliar, character portraits are animated pictures of units in game that make certain sound effects. For example, an alien character would make alien noises, whereas a human character would say something like “Reporting for duty, sir.” I first saw this in Starcraft, at a very early age. It really adds an immersive dimension to the game, so much so that I actually got a bit spooked with the game as a child.
This video shows a chess set designed by Barbara Kruger, who had a vision to make the chess set talk. By ‘talk’, I don’t mean the boring announcement of movements, like “Pawn to E3”. I’m talking about real dialog: for example, the video shows pieces saying things like “Don’t even think about it,” and “Why prolong the pain?” when moved.
Traditionally, board games didn’t need this kind of programmed interaction because of the player-to-player interaction. Trash-talking or friendly banter, or respectful suggestions to surrender are never uncommon in board games, especially in the traditional game of chess. What makes this so necessary?
I find that this adds a somewhat comedic aspect to the game, because of the characterization of the chess pieces. For example, pawns know that they are foot soldiers that are likely to get sacrificed, so they say darker and more cynical things. This creates a lot of potential for other pieces, as rooks can be snarky and queens can be dominating, while bishops can laugh haughtily.
This serves not only to develop the bond between players, as both will laugh at the appropriateness of these sayings with according moves and captures, but also helps develop the bond between the player and the pieces. This creates the potential for a set of pieces to develop confidence in the player (if they’re programmed to do so), and the player to grow fond of the pieces. It can really add emotion to the game.