In a class where the assignment is to play video games, I was very interested to see what my classmates chose to play. And after reading through many of their blogs, a common theme among a lot of games, specifically action games, is that of immersion. And while I have played many games that would … Continue reading “An Analysis of Immersion in Games”
In a class where the assignment is to play video games, I was very interested to see what my classmates chose to play. And after reading through many of their blogs, a common theme among a lot of games, specifically action games, is that of immersion. And while I have played many games that would be considered immersive, I had never thought about why they were considered as such. Miso talks about immersion in his blog post about Thief and how one of the most important attributes of an immersive game is to make sure the game remain in the world of realism, as games played outside of this world tend to break the immersive experience (he uses a magical fireball not melting ice as a great example). Following up on this, Chris references to how some people prefer a first person perspective in Skyrim as it increase immersion. And while Skyrim does not thrive in terms of immersion due to its mythical setting and use of magic, the use of first person still allows for an immersive experience.
Going further, Jean Paul brings up Jamie Madigan and the “completeness of sensory information” and “cognitively demanding environments” act as a measure for immersion games. This thought really resonates with me, as while I play a game, part of the immersion comes from the details found within a game. The completeness of information hits home, as this is the feeling of being in the game world, seeing the game world and processing it as you would real life. Aaron also talks about Fallout 4’s immersive quality, and how the addition of real world connections, such as having a pet dog that you have to take care of, makes the game realistic. He also references Madigan, and her concept of the spatial presence of being inside a game create this immersive experience.
And lastly, as a counter to immersion, Samantha talks about how Britney Spears American Dream the company uses this idea of immersion as a way to promote its casualness. Instead of developing a world that promotes realism, it breaks the fourth wall often, calling upon jokes and ideas in the real world in an effort to keep it casual.
After reading all these posts and playing some of the games, I definitely feel the my understanding of the use of immersion in games is much more complete. Also, I found it especially interesting in reading about how games that aren’t exactly realistic attempt to model immersion. Games such as Skyrim are not realistic; however, they use concepts of immersion to create a better game play experience.
The journey of Shovel Knight continues with the exploration of King Knight’s domain “Pridemoor Keep,” Specter Knight’s “The Lich Yard” and the Village. So far in the gameplay, interacting with the various NPCs has become worthwhile. Upgrades in health and magic capabilities have proven useful as the game really challenges the player to master the […]
The journey of Shovel Knight continues with the exploration of King Knight’s domain “Pridemoor Keep,” Specter Knight’s “The Lich Yard” and the Village. So far in the gameplay, interacting with the various NPCs has become worthwhile. Upgrades in health and magic capabilities have proven useful as the game really challenges the player to master the shovel. This is apparent in Pridemoor Keep when Shovel Knight has to maintain a downward shovel attack and jump over countdown spell books. Once the spell book is opened, it opens various others that form a path and once time runs out, Shovel Knight falls into a pit. Recovering, treasures in these situations is really difficult. In The Lich Yard, as well as in the battle with Specter Knight, the lightning in the background is a sign of ensuing darkness which requires the player to memorize where there are void pits and enemies. Ghosts and frogs are really tricky in these situations.
This connects with Jamie Madigan’s points of “completeness of sensory information” and “cognitively demanding environments” which she uses as a meter of immersion.  The more abstract a game is the less immersive a game becomes. In regards to cognitive demanding environments, when the field including Shovel Knight becomes a silhouette, except for ghosts and dim candles/fires, the level has more of an ominous and haunted vibe due to the fact that the player is immersed in the darkness. The Village area is an example of completeness where the NPCs (non-playable characters) add to the immersion as each one provides a humorous quote or a distinctly different feature (examples in my other post).
The final point Madigan raises about “game characteristics leading to spatial presence”, is “a strong and interesting narrative, plot, or story will suck you in.”  What is unique about the this game is that the Order of No Quarter is a complete mystery, and so far much has not been said about The Enchantress, as well as the damsel in distress is a knight whose power is about equal or possibly greater than Shovel Knight. The sleep sequences make it feel as if though Shield Knight is dead.
As I discussed in my previous post, the gameplay in Britney Spears American Dream merges real and game world, leaving users in almost a constant state of play. American Dream is not concerned with creating a unique and separate space in the game that is separate from the real world. Rather, it plays on and borrows jokes and…
As I discussed in my previous post, the gameplay in Britney Spears American Dream merges real and game world, leaving users in almost a constant state of play. American Dream is not concerned with creating a unique and separate space in the game that is separate from the real world. Rather, it plays on and borrows jokes and ideas from the real world.
Some of these references are more heavy handed than others.
I think some of these references are useful in conveying to the player the importance behind the gigs they’re landing. For example, I know that the Paperclip Center in the game is meant to be the Staples Center, and therefore I know that landing a performance there is a pretty big deal.
Additionally, these reference are funny (at least, they made me laugh.) The not so subtle play on worlds they all use and their familiarity to almost any player can probably muster a laugh in most users.
In my game experience, these jokes and references have consistently pulled me out of the game world. While they may make me smile, I think of the actual thing the game is referring to rather than the object in the game itself. I may also recall another time where I saw the same joke on the internet somewhere. Either way, these techniques take away from the immersive quality of the game. The game world in American Dream is not unbrokenly presented. These references function the same as a loading screen or a game error, they remind me of the real world and its power over the game world. (An unbroken presentation of the game world is one of Jane Madigan’s criteria for an immersive game: http://www.psychologyofgames.com/2010/07/the-psychology-of-immersion-in-video-games/)
The level of immersion is often the number one criteria by which people (including myself) determine the quality of video games. This is not always a fair judgement, perhaps especially in a game like American Dream. It’s a casual game through and through, and its mechanics do a great job of making it so. It’s possible Glu Mobile aimed to maintain a certain low level of immersion in order to preserve the integrity of a casual game. American Dream is not meant to be played nonstop, its mechanics make it nearly impossible to play for even 30 straight minutes. The game is meant to be picked up multiple times in a day for a quick play, and it’s lack of immersion ensures this.
In David Mason’s “Video Games, Theater, and the Paradox of Fiction,” Mason writes “What seems to be different about video games is the active and direct participation the medium allows its audiences” (Mason, 113). Unlike a play, where an audience member observes and exists in the play’s world, a video game player can affect said world, … Continue reading “Character (reader) response in The Last of Us”
In David Mason’s “Video Games, Theater, and the Paradox of Fiction,” Mason writes “What seems to be different about video games is the active and direct participation the medium allows its audiences” (Mason, 113). Unlike a play, where an audience member observes and exists in the play’s world, a video game player can affect said world, making it theirs. Mason also argues that many art forms make the reader or viewer feel real emotions even when we know what is happening is fictional (Mason, 1110). Yet, in video games, because of our direct participation, that emotional response is heightened.
Keeping this heightened emotional response and reality in mind, The Last of Us’ power grows exponentially. Yes, the game is a first person shooter game where the player kills zombies. But, really, it is a game about surrogate fatherhood/daughterhood. The player gets to control both Ellie and Joel, building our “active and direct participation” in these characters. In an earlier post, I discussed “watching” The Last of Us, due to its cinematic qualities. While that reading still applies, it neglects Mason’s point about the larger emotional power of video games. We do not just watch Ellie and Joel; we are Ellie and Joel.
What meaning or character (reader) response comes out of this being? Well, the way one interprets a text, or video game, reveals his or her identity (Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism). For me, as a heterosexual male, I constantly felt more when playing as Joel. Though playing as Ellie provided a good second perspective on the game, emotionally I was much more invested in Joel and his constant desire to protect Ellie, which became my intense desire as well. Being Joel showed me this game was not about survival, but about connection. The game developers had to make the game exciting, i.e. getting to kill lots of zombies, but the game’s real power was building a relationship between Ellie and Joel that the player comes to care about.
For the most part, casual games distract players from everyday life. They provide a break for someone: a little fun on a bathroom or coffee break. However, The Room Two is the first casual game that I have played which requires intense focus and attention rather than mindless swiping on a 4 inch screen. After finishing … Continue reading “Immersion in a Casual Game: The Room Two”
For the most part, casual games distract players from everyday life. They provide a break for someone: a little fun on a bathroom or coffee break. However, The Room Two is the first casual game that I have played which requires intense focus and attention rather than mindless swiping on a 4 inch screen.
After finishing playing The Last of Us, I assumed that my casual game would require a different type of analysis when thinking about how the game functioned. While The Room 2 is a puzzle game that does not need a large screen or a captivating narrative, it does employ many functions that more immersive console games tend to employ. For instance, there is eerie music throughout gameplay, adding an element of suspense, as well as a character known as A.S..
Without this music, the game would function as a stereotypical puzzle game. The music, however, adds a narrative element that puzzle games do not normally have. Where is the music coming from? Is it part of the mise-en scene, as in is it actually playing in the various rooms, or is it something the developer added to increase the overall attractiveness of the game?
The Room also has text built into the game. These letters both provide clues and add narrative to the game. The author, only known as A.S., speaks to the player through these letters,
but there are also unsigned texts, which offer instructions to the player on how to
move through the levels. These texts implicate A.S. as the in-game auteur. A.S. leaves riddles to help and confuse the player, granting him narrative power. These riddle texts work in conjunction with the clues you can use, which come from the developers of the game, rather than A.S., the in-game auteur.
As I continue to play this game, I want to further explore A.S’s role in the game. Is he essential to the game play, adding components that enhance the game’s intrigue? Or is he merely fluff, who distracts from the puzzles the developers have created? Does a character within a puzzle game benefit or inhibit game play?
Other than briefly watching friends play Final Fantasy X, this is my first time playing it from the beginning. It was originally released for the PlayStation 2 in 2001. The game has text and voice to drive the plot forward, which I found exciting at certain times and distracting during other moments. During the first […]
Other than briefly watching friends play Final Fantasy X, this is my first time playing it from the beginning. It was originally released for the PlayStation 2 in 2001. The game has text and voice to drive the plot forward, which I found exciting at certain times and distracting during other moments. During the first 30 minutes of the game, the player is not allowed to skip any film nor save, but at times, is allowed to pause the game while the “background” music continued. In films, the music is always synchronized with on-screen action. But during the cinematic interludes of Final Fantasy X, pausing the game did not pause the music, which not only confused me but gave its game music a fluid identity between the diegetic and nondiegetic world. Another aspect that had a flexible identity was deciding the character’s name; there is a scene in which the character must talk to a group of AI. They ask the character for his name, and a menu pops up to give him a name. The game imitates many features in film, from the camera angles to the montages used for transitions. They were so integrated with one another, that sometimes it was confusing to know when the player should move the character!
The game introduction included more of the player “watching” than “playing.” That difference is the same distinction that exists between engagement and immersion in video games. Immersion (or spatial presence, as it has been termed by Jamie Madigan) needs the player to believe in the world and its context. On the other hand, engagement is similar to the feeling of “flow” (a psychology term for undivided attention and involvement during an activity). While playing Final Fantasy X, the game created a feeling of immersion but I found myself bored – almost frustrated at times – with how unengaging it was. The narrative drove so much of the immersion that I began to feel bored. Frustration built as I yearned for more game play and not so much watching the cinematic storyline. The characters didn’t help, because they drilled in the plot by saying phrases like “listen to my story” and “this is your story, it all begins here.”
The session ended when the game provided me a “Traveller’s Save Sphere,” which stores the character’s HP and MP and allows the player to save game play. The sphere wants to be a diegetic machinic part of the game, although I did not feel so comfortable with the game’s decision to integrate the nondiegetic with the diegetic. I’m excited to continue, although I hope this time, I hope I can expect more “play” time.
Galloway, A. “Gamic Action, Four Moments,” from Gaming, pp. 1-38.
Madigan, J. “The Psychology of Immersion in Video Games” The Psychology of Video Games. Web. 2010.
As my group played through Portal during our game lab last week, it dawned on us that Portal is a game about games. Each level takes the form of a miniature puzzle game that the player must solve in order to progress. Furthermore, as GLaDOS chides the player and narratives the gameplay, it soon becomes apparent that … Continue reading Game Log #1 (Portal) – The Game About Games→
As my group played through Portal during our game lab last week, it dawned on us that Portal is a game about games. Each level takes the form of a miniature puzzle game that the player must solve in order to progress. Furthermore, as GLaDOS chides the player and narratives the gameplay, it soon becomes apparent that your tests are a game to her as well. Despite GLaDOS’ monotone voice, her commentary indicates that she takes a sort of sick joy in watching the player struggle to solve her puzzles against their will. Therefore, the player spends much of Portal acutely aware that they are playing a game. GLaDOS’ comments like “this next test is impossible” solidify this fact, as the player knows in the back of their mind that the test cannot be impossible. Eventually, the game must be able to be completed because Portal is a winnable game. The player can spend most of Portal in this mindset, progressing forward with full knowledge of their role as the player of a game and without a true sense of immersion within the game’s world.
In this way, Portal lulls the player into a false sense of comfort. While the tests do increase in difficulty as the game progresses, the player still develops a set of expectations for the elements each level will contain (switches, turrets, cubes etc.). This, too, contributes to the player’s awareness of their role as the player of a game. However, GLaDOS’ attempt to murder Chell breaks apart Portal’s typical routine, and marks a major turning point in the player’s perception of their role within the game. At least in my experience, breaking out of the test chambers and progressing through Aperture Science’s abandoned back rooms marked the first moment in the game where I forgot I was a player. Instead, the shock of GLaDOS’ sudden betrayal rocketed me out of my comfort zone, and caused me to enter Chell’s shoes. Without the rules and GLaDOS’ commentary that had been so clearly and constantly present before, I found after completing Portal that the game’s final section engrossed me in a way that the earlier sections had not. For a little while, I felt like I was a test subject in the Enrichment Center that was no longer trying to progress through tests in some grander game. Instead, I was trying to survive.