Welcome to the first Lame Discussion. We gathered half a dozen Lamer staff and had a rousing discussion on the concept of immersion in video games. Hopefully, we will be able to bring you discussions like these every few weeks. Because we are a bunch of nerds we had a blast analyzing one of video games more cerebral concepts and went on far too long. In the effort to keep the discussion’s points intact but keep you from falling asleep, I’ve added this long intro. Also, I edited the crap out of the actual discussion. You can bet your ass we said a ton of hilarious things you’ll never get to read. The article is in fact so long I had to chop it into two parts to make it at all palatable.
Christian – Believes planning his responses out instead of winging it will improve the discussion.
Golden Jew – Insists on constant mother jokes between intelligent replies.
Horatio – Allows Jay to force him into arguing in circles.
Jay – Automatically wins all arguments because it’s his site.
Pat – Had to leave early because he had to meet a “girl.”
Stefan – Thinks quoting scientific theories will help his case.
I won’t explain anything but rather just drop you into our chatroom. Good luck.
Jay: OK, the topic I mentioned in the email was that of immersion.
How important is immersion in video games? The argument calling for more immersion in games is probably obvious. If we get lost in a game we spend more time in it and ultimately have more fun. The argument against more immersion is that games are too focused on becoming movies instead of playing to the strengths of games. Tetris has almost no immersion and it is an amazing game. Should developers spend less money and time on plot and immersion and more on making sure gameplay is fun? Is this question of “should we strive for more immersion?” even being posed in a fair and sensical way?
Stefan: Okay, I have a proposition to begin with. I think the word game may actually be too broad, since it can refer to make-believe type of games, where people essentially pretend to be someone, somewhere, or something else. And also to games of skill or chance, where people manipulate symbols or objects in a formal way. And the way those types of games relate to immersion is very different. I think even most scrolling shooters fall into the second category.
I think nearly all video games fall into the second category, so we’ll go with that.
Jay: Who wants to start us off? Pat?
Pat: Plot is important to most types of games. Immersion, which I have taken to mean losing oneself in the game, ultimately to the point of forgetting you are playing a game in nigh impossible in a video game.
Golden Jew: Just to merrily derail things… I think immersion is a stupid buzzword perpetrated by the struggling marketing industry of gamers.
Horatio: I think immersion is important much more beyond the plot because if you don’t have some sort of shell… every game starts to look the same right? Every FPS is just guns and strafing. Every platformer is, well, jumping. Immersion is what makes you want to buy more and more games of the same genre. For better or for worse, that doesn’t have a lot of different innovation.