Why The Walking Dead made you care about Clem explained with SCIENCE

The walking dead

The Walking Dead is gaming’s Breaking Bad – everyone wants to recommend to those who haven’t seen it yet. The game’s emotional effects made it one of the highest scoring games on Metacritic and secured a shelf’s worth of 2012 awards. Now a science explains how it literally gets at your brains.

The science of The Walking Dead

The secret is a specialised kind of nerve cell in your brain called a Mirror Neuron. These are involved in controlling muscles and movement but derive their name from that fact that they can be triggered by the sight of the action they control. So the mirror neurones that control running will be triggered if you just watch running and so on. Effectively seeing someone do something recreates the equivalent activity in your brain.

Where that ties into The Walking Dead is that you have mirror neurones controlling your facial expressions. A study in 2003 showed that when people saw pictures of facial expressions the nerves associated with actually making them fired off signals, along with a part of brain called the limbic system. That’s one of the brain’s emotional centres and triggering it effectively recalls an emotional response.

So, because much of The Walk Dead is focused on various character’s faces as they emote about the danger and stress they’re facing you’re constantly stimulating equivalent responses in your own brain. You care about what’s happening because you are actually feeling it even if you don’t know it. Had the game focused more on smashing skulls or puzzle solving you simply wouldn’t have cared as much.

Keep that hair short Clem.

Thanks Gamasutra.