Author Topic: Immersion in Games  (Read 3376 times)

Brekkjern

  • Erotic
  • ****
  • Posts: 1023
  • Le fu-
    • View Profile
    • Brekkjern.net
Immersion in Games
« on: June 26, 2011, 10:30:32 am »
Quote
BrionFoulke
@notch I think "immersion" is just a buzz word. If you like a game,
you can feel "immersed" in anything. You can't plan "immersion."

Quote
DrKalinka Brekkjern
@BrionFoulke @notch It is a buzz word, yes. But there are steps
you can take to make a player feel more immersed in a game.

Quote
BrionFoulke
@DrKalinka @notch There are steps you can take to make *some*
players more immersed... but you don't know who those players are.

Quote
DrKalinka Brekkjern
@BrionFoulke @notch Your targeted audience?

Quote
BrionFoulke Brion Foulke   
@DrKalinka Anyway, "immersion" simply means someone likes the
game. You can be immersed in anything if you like it.

Quote
BrionFoulke Brion Foulke
@DrKalinka So saying you want to make an immersive game is like
saying "I want to make a game people will like!" It's meaningless.

Quote
DrKalinka Brekkjern
@BrionFoulke Well, not really. I play minecraft. I like the game, but I
don't feel immersed in it. When I play an FPS with good sounds and..

Quote
DrKalinka Brekkjern   
@BrionFoulke great visuals however, I do. It is more about details
and true to life effects. Graphics isn't everything.

Quote
BrionFoulke Brion Foulke
@DrKalinka And some people (like me) probably feel more
"immersed" in minecraft than they do FPS's. Why is that?

Just figured I should dump the conversation as a starting point.

Brion Foulke

  • Administrator
  • Experimental
  • *****
  • Posts: 770
    • AOL Instant Messenger - flipsider99
    • View Profile
    • www.flipsidecomics.com
    • Email
Immersion in Games
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2011, 10:31:08 am »
So this is a topic that got started on twitter because of something I said about immersion in games, namely this: personally, I think the word "immersion" is heavily overused in today's gaming market, both by developers and game fans.  I think it's a buzz word, and doesn't really mean much.  Ostensibly it means to "feel like you're in the game," or "be really drawn into the game."  Depends on who you ask, though... nobody can quite agree on exactly what "immersion" means.  And nobody can really agree what qualities make a game more "immersive."

IMO, if you like a game enough, you can get sucked into any game.  Doesn't have to be a realistic FPS, a puzzle game can be more immersive depending on your personal preferences.  Therefore, I feel that the idea of a developer trying to plan their game around the idea of "immersion" is ridiculous.  Make a fun game, or an interesting game, or a game with a good story, etc.  Don't make an "immersive" game.  You as the developer have no control over what the player thinks is "immersive."  And as for the word itself, let's stop overusing a word that is basically meaningless... if you find a game immersive, it's essentially the same as saying you like it.  Thus, it doesn't really mean much at all.

Brekkjern

  • Erotic
  • ****
  • Posts: 1023
  • Le fu-
    • View Profile
    • Brekkjern.net
Re: Immersion in Games
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2011, 10:45:31 am »
I think we have to redefine "Immersion" before we start because the buzzword version is just bogus. How about the real meaning of it? "Immersed in water"? You feel like you are in water. Therefore immersion fits?

Brion Foulke

  • Administrator
  • Experimental
  • *****
  • Posts: 770
    • AOL Instant Messenger - flipsider99
    • View Profile
    • www.flipsidecomics.com
    • Email
Re: Immersion in Games
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2011, 10:48:03 am »
I think we have to redefine "Immersion" before we start because the buzzword version is just bogus. How about the real meaning of it? "Immersed in water"? You feel like you are in water. Therefore immersion fits?

I mean, I don't really agree with that definition, but is that really what you want to go with?  When people say they are "immersed," it's the same as saying this game makes me feel wet?

Brekkjern

  • Erotic
  • ****
  • Posts: 1023
  • Le fu-
    • View Profile
    • Brekkjern.net
Re: Immersion in Games
« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2011, 10:48:55 am »
Haha! No, I mean that you feel you are a participant in the action that unfolds around you. Be it movies or games.

Brion Foulke

  • Administrator
  • Experimental
  • *****
  • Posts: 770
    • AOL Instant Messenger - flipsider99
    • View Profile
    • www.flipsidecomics.com
    • Email
Re: Immersion in Games
« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2011, 10:57:20 am »
Haha! No, I mean that you feel you are a participant in the action that unfolds around you. Be it movies or games.

Well, I dunno if that definition will work.  Is that really what everyone means when they say immersion?  For one thing, I've never actually felt like I was actually a participant inside a game, I always feel like I'm watching.

The dictionary calls immersion "absorbing involvement."  This seems like the best definition because it can encompass what both you and I are talking about.  The other 2 entries for immersion, being submerged in water and being exposed to the subject of study don't really apply.  From this source: http://mw1.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/immersion

Brekkjern

  • Erotic
  • ****
  • Posts: 1023
  • Le fu-
    • View Profile
    • Brekkjern.net
Re: Immersion in Games
« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2011, 11:17:50 am »
I can go with that.

My point is that in games you have audio, visual, story and controls. As long as what you see makes sense for what you hear, what happens makes sense with the story and the buttons you press make you do what you want, you are on a good way to make an immersive game. Actually, I feel you have just gotten to the basics of making something immersive.

Next step would be making the story twist and turn so you can't expect what will happen around the next corner. It has to make sense to your brain why this is happening as well. If you can see a boss fight coming without you moving into an area where it would be logical for the boss to meet you also kills immersion for me. The story is not interesting enough. Take Crysis for example. North Koreans invade an island to capture a few scientists. It does not make sense at all.

Visuals need to work as well. If a skyscraper is standing on re-bar, I just don't feel like I am there. It helps a lot to have details that work with the timeline and your story. Items from the time period around you, effects working as you would expect them to do in real life... People jumping 20 meters without a logical explanation usually breaks whatever immersion you have.

Sounds need to make sense. If you walk around, you should be able to hear you do so if it isn't noisy. If you bump into people, again, you should hear it. Audio has very little focus in games and I feel that is very wrong. Many games need to improve that aspect.

Controls are really up to the game itself. They have to be easy to reach and be fast enough to use so you are not at a disadvantage to the game itself.

The last part, which the games can not control at all and is usually the immersion killer is your surroundings. People talking to you while you play pulls you out of the story and what the game tries to present you. To me, it is very important to be able to play a game without being disturbed to enjoy it fully.

I think I will end this post here so you can reply, but also because I am getting hungry :P

garion

  • Slave Groupie
  • *
  • Posts: 30
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Immersion in Games
« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2011, 11:27:31 am »
I think that immersion into a game is more dependent on the story than the visual or audio effects. I've played super-realistic looking games before, but found the story so dull that it was just moving my character from one point to another. It was pretty, yes, but immersive? No. Involvement in something does not require realism.

What books do you know that have great graphics, or graphics at all? Graphic novels, but those are few and far between in comparison to worded novels. I appreciate art and how it can assist in the ability to immmerse, but both visual and mental stimuli are neccesary for a truly immersive experience, which seems to be a concept most developers are lacking.

Brion Foulke

  • Administrator
  • Experimental
  • *****
  • Posts: 770
    • AOL Instant Messenger - flipsider99
    • View Profile
    • www.flipsidecomics.com
    • Email
Re: Immersion in Games
« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2011, 11:36:02 am »
My point is that in games you have audio, visual, story and controls. As long as what you see makes sense for what you hear, what happens makes sense with the story and the buttons you press make you do what you want, you are on a good way to make an immersive game. Actually, I feel you have just gotten to the basics of making something immersive.

Well I would have to disagree with that.  Which is not to say that what you describe doesn't make a good game.  The part I disagree with are the games you are excluding... when you talk about things "making sense," what about games that play little tricks on you, or play around in surrealism.  Can't they be immersive too?  I would suggest that they can, just as easily.

I'm gonna give you an example.  Ever hear of the game "Yume Nikki?"  It's made with RPG Maker and has SNES style graphics, but it's not an RPG... it's an exploration into the surreal world of a girl's dreams.  Personally, (and I know I'm not alone!) I would suggest that this game is very immersive, even though what you see doesn't always make sense for what you hear, what happens doesn't always make sense, and buttons don't always do what you expect.

Next step would be making the story twist and turn so you can't expect what will happen around the next corner. It has to make sense to your brain why this is happening as well. If you can see a boss fight coming without you moving into an area where it would be logical for the boss to meet you also kills immersion for me. The story is not interesting enough. Take Crysis for example. North Koreans invade an island to capture a few scientists. It does not make sense at all.

It's not that I disagree with you, but remember that for me immersion means you feel absorbed or involved.  Well, it makes sense that you would feel less involved if there's something in the game you don't like, and plot holes and illogic are good reasons for that.  But on the other hand, maybe some people are less inclined to care about those things, so for them it doesn't effect their "immersion" at all.  In other words, if you like what is happening in the story, you are more inclined to be "immersed", and if not then the opposite.

The last part, which the games can not control at all and is usually the immersion killer is your surroundings. People talking to you while you play pulls you out of the story and what the game tries to present you. To me, it is very important to be able to play a game without being disturbed to enjoy it fully.

That's the one thing I would agree with as something that *really* has to do with immersion.  Obviously it's hard to be absorbed with something if you are being distracted, exactly like if you're watching a movie and someone in the theater is talking.

But as for your other points, I would argue that none of them have anything inherently to do with whether a game is "involving."  That's totally up to the person.  In the end, you can boil these arguments down to "if the game is good, people will find it involving, if it is bad, they won't."  And of course we can't agree on whats "good" or "bad," though we can give our opinions about it, like you have done.  But I think that saying a game is "immersive" is to say nothing.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2011, 11:39:45 am by Brion Foulke »

Brekkjern

  • Erotic
  • ****
  • Posts: 1023
  • Le fu-
    • View Profile
    • Brekkjern.net
Re: Immersion in Games
« Reply #9 on: June 26, 2011, 12:21:14 pm »
What I mean about those points is that they have to make sense with each other. If you are playing a game that has a surreal story, you would expect to see some clues to it as the visual part and most likely as well in the audio part. If you are playing a game that attempts to be true to life, buildings collapsing upwards, colours shifting, sounds acting weird and so on will not help you feel immersed.

A point I was thinking of adding in my last post was about time. Playing a game set in a specific timeframe would feel more immersive if the details match. The same goes for the different ways you get input from the game.

As for the story, of course you have to enjoy it, but then you are back to the target audience. If you are making a game that leans heavily on the story, it will not cater to the audience that loves Call Of Duty the most.

Brion Foulke

  • Administrator
  • Experimental
  • *****
  • Posts: 770
    • AOL Instant Messenger - flipsider99
    • View Profile
    • www.flipsidecomics.com
    • Email
Re: Immersion in Games
« Reply #10 on: June 26, 2011, 12:34:41 pm »
What I mean about those points is that they have to make sense with each other. If you are playing a game that has a surreal story, you would expect to see some clues to it as the visual part and most likely as well in the audio part. If you are playing a game that attempts to be true to life, buildings collapsing upwards, colours shifting, sounds acting weird and so on will not help you feel immersed.

Okay, so basically what you're saying is: consistency in presentation, is that right?  And you think that consistency is the "key" towards making a game be involving?  Or is that merely one element?

A point I was thinking of adding in my last post was about time. Playing a game set in a specific timeframe would feel more immersive if the details match. The same goes for the different ways you get input from the game.

So then, does that mean you don't like stories with some anachronisms?  Like modern phrases being used in a period piece?  I think this makes a certain amount of basic sense, but is not always true.  I'll give you an example in a comic... the manga Blade of the Immortal.  It's set in Japan but the characters talk using anachronistic modern speech.  I don't think that does anything to harm the involvement I feel with that story.  I think it's a stylistic choice, and YMMV, but I can definitely say that your point doesn't always apply.

As for the story, of course you have to enjoy it, but then you are back to the target audience. If you are making a game that leans heavily on the story, it will not cater to the audience that loves Call Of Duty the most.

Okay.  But with this point, aren't you admitting that different people want different things, and therefore that "immersive" is, at the very least, flexible?
« Last Edit: June 26, 2011, 01:10:38 pm by Brion Foulke »

Brekkjern

  • Erotic
  • ****
  • Posts: 1023
  • Le fu-
    • View Profile
    • Brekkjern.net
Re: Immersion in Games
« Reply #11 on: June 28, 2011, 06:05:56 am »
Consistency is key to not breaking an immersive experience. Playing a game and suddenly, something out of place for that type of game/story pops around a corner and I loose a lot of the feeling I have.

Anachronisms work if they are presented as natural. If you drive around in a car in the 14th century and people are OK with this and the story follows along, that may well work. However, the story would have to be exceptionally well written for it to do so. As for language, I believe only tone and mostly pronouns should follow the time setting. Again, it depends on the game and story.

Immersion is flexible, but you usually have a target audience. If you want to feel immersed in a game and the story, gameplay, visuals, audio and your surroundings allow for it, then I believe you will become immersed whether you consciously know it or not. Sitting down and playing for 5 minutes is not enough to grab the player thoroughly. It is a gradual process.

Brion Foulke

  • Administrator
  • Experimental
  • *****
  • Posts: 770
    • AOL Instant Messenger - flipsider99
    • View Profile
    • www.flipsidecomics.com
    • Email
Re: Immersion in Games
« Reply #12 on: June 28, 2011, 12:37:00 pm »
I can certainly see how lack of consistency can make you feel less involved in the game.  However, I think "consistency" improves the *quality* of the game more than it has anything to do with "immersion," and I would say that a *lack of quality* is what breaks immersion.  For example, if you feel frustrated because the gameplay in a certain section is too hard, or frustrated by the camera controls, or if a certain part of the story annoys you, I think any of that stuff is gonna break your "immersion," simply because it's harder to feel involved with a game that is rubbing you the wrong way.

IMO it's the quality of the game that *creates* immersion.  I realize that "game quality" is vague... and that's my point.  What makes a game "involving" is actually quite vague and is gonna depend on the person.  Higher quality games lend themselves to being more immersive simply because it's easier to be involved in a game you like, and people generally tend to like higher quality games more.  You've said that consistency is important in not "breaking" immersion, but what in your opinion actually *creates* immersion?  Is there a particular quality that makes a game more involving?
« Last Edit: June 28, 2011, 12:44:45 pm by Brion Foulke »

Brekkjern

  • Erotic
  • ****
  • Posts: 1023
  • Le fu-
    • View Profile
    • Brekkjern.net
Re: Immersion in Games
« Reply #13 on: June 28, 2011, 03:31:15 pm »
I think we have been agreeing to the same things all along really...

As for what creates immersion, I would say options and story. For example, walking down corridors and shooting people is neither involving nor especially fun. Games that give you freedom to tackle a problem in any way you want usually give me more enjoyment as I was the one who got the idea to solve it this way and not the creators. Also the story MUST be exciting enough to at least want you to follow it a bit more than just the cut-scenes.

Brion Foulke

  • Administrator
  • Experimental
  • *****
  • Posts: 770
    • AOL Instant Messenger - flipsider99
    • View Profile
    • www.flipsidecomics.com
    • Email
Re: Immersion in Games
« Reply #14 on: June 28, 2011, 09:29:41 pm »
We probably agree on some things, but we don't seem to agree on what makes a game "immersive."  I can understand why you would value options and story, but isn't that just your personal preferences?  For me, I would put options very low on a list of priorities.  I like a good story in games but I don't always need it, for example I find Minecraft to be very immersive and it has no story.  Personally I find that the highest priority for me to feel immersed in a game is the soundtrack.  I find it really hard to enjoy games with bad soundtracks, but a great soundtrack tends to make me feel very involved in the game no matter what it is.  That's just me, though.  I think when we talk about what makes games "immersive," it all just comes down to the preferences of each gamer.