The Game Boy: Why Immersion's Dying, and No One's Even Coming to The Funeral

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wowko

I like this articel very much, very instructive, like world of warcraft, it is not like before, but still not dead,umm, anyway , i enjoy this game, and i also buy wow gold, power-leveling serveice from some websitess like[url=http://www.wowko.com], i think it is a good place to go to enjoy game time.

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stradric

First, I think I've read plenty of game reviews where the reviewer values the immersion factor.  So maybe you need to read better game review sites (hint: stay away from game pro).

Second, a large factor that determines how immersed you get into a game is your own real environment.  If you have kids running around or siblings that want to play or you just don't have surround sound, then you're going to find it hard to get immersed in any game.  And for those people, fun factor and replayability likely are their biggest draws.  This has probably changed over the years, but a few years ago some 50+% of PS3 owners didn't even know that it was Hi-Def nor did they have an HD TV.  SD TVs take away from immersion.

Third, immersion means fcuk all if the game sucks.  Take Doom 3 for example.  The doom games are great at making you jump in your seat.  But Doom 3 throws you into a futuristic environment where the guns are inferior to modern weapons of today (with flashlights on them).  Also, it added nothing to the genre but amazing technology.

Fourth, (and this is anecdotal) I've never been so immersed in a game that I've been offended by an achievement pop up.  Just the thought of someone being that entranced in a video game is kind of creepy and lends credence to this nonsense that video games can brainwash kids into being violent criminals replicating GTA and the like.  Never have I been playing a game unconscious of the fact that I'm playing a video game.  I get excited about that achievement pop up no matter how mundane it is.  But that's not to say that playing Halo or Starcraft doesn't get my heart racing...

Fifth, the immersion factor is unique to the individual.  Personally I thought Stalker sucked.  I couldn't get into it at all.  Someone who's having a tough time with Starcraft for example is not going to get immersed, but an expert starcraft player probably gets immersed every time he/she plays.

While this is an interesting debate, I think you're overblowing the importance of the immersion factor.  It is not a sufficient condition, and only somewhat necessary.

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Silver925

... to a little game called System Shock 2. (Never played the first, but have heard it was excellent too) Now THAT was a game that you just got lost in. Hiding in the shadows, counting your last few bullets, with a cold sweat on your brow, praying that the critters wandering about wouldn't find you.

It had an skill progression system, but it was very well done, and added to the immersion of the game. You had to choose wisely to help your play style and just survive your situation. Best of both worlds.

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LatiosXT

Achievements and out of place objects are annoying because they don't do anything meaningful to enhance the game itself. Now I don't mean enhance the overall fun factor, but it's a gold star that the developer is giving us. And... of all places to find a quote... Nathan Explosion from Metalacolypse said "Yeah, we figured out you can just buy psychological validation."

I suppose this brings the point of what the hell a game is supposed to be. I think one of the MPC editors had an article about how games should always give some kind of reward, because that's what a game is. You play a game and if you win, you expect some reward. As much as achievements give us "ideas" about new goals within a game, it can also serve as an excuse to artificially lengthen the game with shallow content.

All for this sense of psychological validation.

Also I applaud you, Mr. Grayson for mentioning STALKER and Metro 2033. And it had something that other games I've come across don't: they make me want to explore the world and be a participant in it. If there was one complaint I had about Metro 2033 in particular, it's that there wasn't enough time or freedom allowed to explore the safer parts of the metro. I liked those little makeshift dorms.

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Fourthseal

Bravo Mr. Grayson.  Well stated.  I greatly enjoy your articles, and was very pleased to find a more general philisophical approach with this article.  I found it very sating to read something out of the ordinary.  Thank you.

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Rage1340

You can be immersed and still be bored. 

 

If i have to loose insane amounts of viable content in order to be immersed then i say screw it. i would rather have achievements the like any day of the week.

 

You made a comparison to real life in this article. That is the last thing i want when i play games.

 

Take a look at (god help me for saying this) world of warcraft. You will see tons of bells and whistles that are thrown in. but does the immersion take a dive as a result? well if you have ever downed lich king for the first time you will know the answer is... NO!!!

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ShadowDragoonFTW

I think you're missing part of the point. Those kinds of games, like World of Warcraft, are fun and all, and they have their place in the world. But some people want something different. They want to forget that the world they're currently piddling around in is fake. They want to forget about real life, and fade into an alternate reality where anything is imaginable, but you DON'T know what's around every corner. Tension, surprise, excitement... if a game does emersion right, even a leisurely stroll through a well-populated village can feel like a relief.

It's not about putting your real life into a game, it's about taking that game and making it YOUR LIFE, if only for a few short hours at a time. Without it feeling fake, cheap, or limited in certain ways, it's a hard thing to do. I remember playing the original Silent Hill (not that far back, actually; found it for dirt-cheap in a pawn shop in mint condition a few years back). That game was darn near perfect for emersion. The game world was SO well constructed, it did feel like a real city -- albeit one ruined, abandoned, and filled with strange, disturbing creatures. (Honestly, the demon-babies in the school still give me the heebie-jeebies.)

THAT, right there, my last line, is what this guy is talking about. A game that makes you feel like you're really there, in some place completely different and infathomable, but also as real as real life.

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Bennethon

Don't get me wrong, the occasional analogy here and there will spice up an aricle, but an article packed with lines like

"immersion is about as prized as an airplane aisle seat surrounded on all sides by screaming babies with no nearby emergency exit to fling yourself from"

and

"and looks pretty darn silly flailing around like a seizure victim who's also being attacked by bees at nothing"

is impossible to read.  But I doubt the author will read these comments anyways, so whatever.

 

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ShadowDragoonFTW

Oh, and that second "medaphor" you're refering to? That's actually what people look like while playing a lot of motion-sensitive games. So, it's more an... allusion? Perhaps that. But, it's a physical description of something actually happening, not a made-up hypothetical happenstance. So, yeah, not so much a "medaphor", or even a simile.

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titan8813

Metaphor is spelled with a T, what you quoted were similes, and the word "anyway" shouldn't have an S on the end.  Ever.  Not to nit-pick your writing style or anything ;-)

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highsidednb

Acheivements and goodies in game are symptomatic of our dying society.  Because a real sense of acheivement is so sorely lacking for most people (especially in today's economy), virtual successes whether in Farmville or Team Fortress 2 fulfill the base human need for growth. 

It seems like there used to be great balance between immersion and achievement in games-System Shock 2, Planescape:Torment, etc.  Lately though it feels like all a player should care about is getting teh awsum l00tz and leveling up.  This kind of stuff has even bled over into casual and indie games, the last place you'd expect to find it.  I blame Steam for this.  

I try hard to find immersive games for the main reason that they feel better produced and more artistic.  If I want to just win and achieve, I'll go play BFBC2.  

Too bad Alan Wake doesn't look like it'll be ported to PCs.

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Elric

I dunno. A lot of you guys sound like old fogey's, IMHO. This sort of thing's like "interactive fiction" everyone talks about how great it was and how lamentable its passing is, but if someone tried to sell it today they'd go out of business instantly and none of you all would buy it.

If you guys want high brow games buy high brow games.Lobby devs, or become one if it's such a great gaping hole in the market (i.e. opportunity).

IMHO, games like Call of Duty, et al, are incredibly immersive, achievements/trophies/kill streaks/perks/et al. Immersion and these "modern" trends are hardly mutually exclusive.

Anyway, the haters sound like a bunch of fuddy duds to me, and this from a dude who's been rocking games since the 8bit 5.25" floppy bad old days.

 

PS: MAXPC: CAPTCHA SUCKS! I would rather have SPAM than retarded Captcha signing. I'm already freaking logged in.

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haboh

well said! While trying to not reflectively blame the consoles (as usual), it seems to me that they at least lead the way in this trend. Playing PC only, and just getting back into it a year or so ago, I didn't really see the start of this, but now it seems to be everywhere!

In SC2 I got an achivement for completing the first level!! "Congratulations, you're playing the game" .. And character portraits are "unlockables"? Really? A 14 kb JPEG files is something I need to "earn"? 

I agree that this need for constant reward will severely reduce what little immersion i got out of games. And with the fragile egos of MW2 etc players, the game designers are getting more and more afraid of letting people lose (i.e. actually challenged).

One day  games will only be a freakish version of WoW with micro transaction. Where you cannot die.

edit: oh, is there a mod for SC2 that turns of achievements? That would be awesome, k thx.

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stradric

Starcraft 2 has tons and tons of achievements, and you use one of the stupidest one of them all in your example?  There are many achievements that are so difficult to get in that game that I will never even come close.  And those achievements unlock character portraits so that when someone does unlock one of those impossible portraits, anyone that looks at his profile will know that he's earned some game cred.  And to me that is the point of achievements -- to show off your skills.  With that being said, I wish there were more portraits because everyone looks the same on battle.net.

 

"Really? A 14 kb JPEG files is something I need to "earn"?"

It's what the 14 kb jpg stands for.  Are you going to go back in time and question the soldiers of the US revolution and say "Really?  A flag?  That's all you fought for?"

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Mighty BOB!

I have to agree with this.  Achievements for the sake of achievements are stupid and trivial.  Take Mass Effect 2 for example.  It has something like 54 "achievements" (4 of which are DLC-only) and the vast majority of them you get just from playing through the story.  In fact several of them come from completing mandatory missions that you have to do in order to advance the story.  What the heck is the point?  There is none except for an undeserved sense of satisfaction. 

It does depend on the title though.  Team Fortress 2 for example has a ridiculous number of achievements, a lot of which are hard to get, or take a while to get, or are a numbers game like "do X 50 times."  It's a "gamey" game and not really supposed to be an immersive world so it works better for that title.  Valve chickened out though on some of the newer ones because they found through their statistics that a lot of achievements weren't being gotten by "the majority of players" so they made newer ones easier to get and added that idiotic random weapon drop system that gives you new weapons randomly just for playing the game, without having to earn them.

TLDR; some games are more suited to achievements than others, but in any case, they shouldn't be trivially easy to get without any effort whatsoever and they should mesh nicely with whatever game they're in.

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Jasker

Lost Odyssey!

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Dynotaku

Totally agree. The most obvious immersion breaking factor is the achievement pop ups now whenever you pick up a new gun or something else equally as trivial. And even the things that are supposed to be the big moments are broken by this. Imagine killing the big tentacle plant thing in Half-Life 1, the one that attacked any source of sound and beating it involved crawling all over multiple maps and working your way past it several times. The greatness of that moment when it's killed interrupted by >ba-bink< Acheivement: Weed Killer.

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machew100

A nice point you brought up here. As I was reading it I was thinking, "When I play games I just run through them and achievements pop up along my way. Yes, I search for treasures and hidden things because it's fun to catch things that any other person would miss, especially when it benefits you, but I'm not looking them up". The thing is, is that some people go hardcore to get those achievements, and make it their personal mission to max out their achievements.  I just think it's a people thing, and it affects how you play according to how your gaming personality plays out. If you're one of those super hardcore completionists, it's something to either excite you or make you flog your head into the TV with frustration, never feeling completely satisfied.  Could it do without the achievements? I sure as hell think so.  However, I do think that achievements are the only way to pull one of those "LOOK WHAT I DID" moments to your friends with absolute proof, did you think of that?  I myself don't focus on achievements, but still play on the hardest difficulty/greatest challenge I can, as well as find all the goodies there are to find, I think that hidden goodies in a game that reward you are well placed, and as I'm sure you know pretty much every game ever has rewards for not passing through the game blindly.  Good article, nice change of pace from all the tech news feeds, I appreciate it.

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Phosphorous

It's nice to write articles about these types of things, but let's face it.  It won't change because the people that are complaining are slamming their money down on the counter with said crappy games while doing it.

That's one thing I could never understand.  Tons and tons of people are complaining about the games, but yet they are still buying them.  If enough people would not buy the games then the developers will get the message.  Keep buying the games and they will keep putting out the same crap because that's what sold the last time.

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lordmidnight

I may be kicking a dead horse here (or worse), but I think the decline began when games stopped being ported to consoles, and started being designed for consoles and ported to PC. It's dumbed-down the whole experience. Everything suffers.

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samduhman

It may be a dead horse but its true. Until some devs realize that there is a segment of gamers that want something more than a "console" experience it will continue. I'm hoping they'll realize it soon. Remember the good ol' days of simulation titles? Games that required the keyboard and joystick and would NEVER work on a console due to gamepad limitations. Man I'd love some of those now.

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AudioCraZ

There are some good games out there, but nothing, NOTHING of the games of past that immersed you, and literaly had you shaking and nervous behind a keyboard. Games that beckoned to be played in the dark, with the sound turned up. Half-life and System Shock series had that "edge of your seat" gameplay. Too many games are putting too much focus on "micro payments" and "achievments", but really lack that exciting gameplay. I don't think it was fair to include MW2, or fps' of the like. They were never supposed to be thrillers, just awesome adaptations of "boom headshot", and for that they do them very well.

I honestly believe that most game makers just don't want to risk trying to make a good thriller game, and see it is easier and cheaper to make the games of today, for $$$ sake.

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