Postal Redux: Another Perspective

While Postal Redux is played in the third person perspective, I never have felt that the game lacks a sense of immersion. Some may argue that the sequel, Postal 2, is much more immersive because it is played in the first person perspective. In general, many gamers would argue that first person perspective games are more immersive than third person perspective games because you can play from “inside” the in game character. In his article “Why Can I See My Avatar? Embodied Visual Engagement in the Third-Person Video Game”, Daniel Black states that it is not the so much the perspective that creates immersion but how effectively the game can bridge the gap from physical reality to digital fantasy.

Black examines James Newman’s “The Myth of the Ergodic Videogame” in order to make a case for his claim. Newman is arguing against the immersiveness of third person perspectives and how it creates a division between the player and the in game character. Newman states that “the primary-player–character relationship is one of vehicular embodiment” (Newman). Black argues back that this vehicular metaphor acts as Cartesian dualism, “with the player taking the role of disembodied cogito using the game character to act upon the digital res extensa of the game world” (Black). To explain, Black is saying that players use in game characters in order to perform tasks that they would otherwise not perform, kind of like a puppet. He continues saying that if this were truly the case, games would not be as engaging as they are made out to be. I agree with this statement because I believe in game characters are more than just a tool to be used, they are a digital representation of one’s identity and behaviors. They encapsulate a secondary form of consciousness like no other medium can because they allow the player to perform whatever task said player wants to act upon.

Continuing on the vehicular metaphor, Newman describes a typical CoinOp racing game and how it is possible to be sitting in a physical representation of the in game car you are driving, yet view yourself driving from a third perspective (he suggests from a helicopter). He states that these type of games create “multiple and apparently contradictory presentations of the self”(Newman). Arguing against this claim, Black turns to how we view Hollywood car chase scenes:

“While we do not control the car in the Hollywood film, we identify with the driver, and perhaps flinch at a near collision as if we were physically located inside the car, even as we watch the chase largely from a viewpoint outside the car.” (Black)

These car chase scenes often have multiple perspectives of the singular main driver- a first person perspective of the driver, a perspective of the passenger, an outside of the car third person perspective, and sometimes even a perspective from another driver. And while the film creates multiple perspectives and angles that we view ourselves in, we often can still maintain singularity with the main driver in order to create consistency inside our heads. Black states that if we are able to create consistency with films, we should be able to create consistency in videogames, which have much less switching of perspectives. I agree with this statement because even if there is a visual “division” between me and the in game character,  be it the perspective or even the screen itself, I can still feel like I am inside the game. I am creating a mental connection to the character in order to create consistency for myself. Perspectives do not have to be one to one with the in game character, but they at least need to allow me to be able to create a simulated singularity.

Black finds problems Newman’s argument against the immersiveness of multiple perspectives/representations of the self in order to strengthen his own argument for the immersiveness of third person perspectives. Even if a game is in a third person view, it can still be immersive and can allow players to feel like they are truly inside the game. Postal is a perfect example of this claim, as its third person view does not hinder its immersiveness or its ability to envelope the player’s identity into a digital character.

Sources:

Newman James (2002). The Myth of the Ergodic Videogame. Game Studies, 2.

Black, Daniel. “Why Can I See My Avatar? Embodied Visual Engagement in the Third-Person Video Game.” Games and Culture, 13 June 2015, journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1555412015589175#articleCitationDownloadContainer.

 

Source: Postal Redux: Another Perspective

Why COD Lacks Immersion

Call of Duty: WWII is a first person shooter game that gives the player the ability to play three different modes: multiplayer, zombies, and campaign. I will focus on the campaign mode, specifically its immersive qualities, or lack thereof.

The game does have characteristics that make it an immersive game. Qualities such as its perspective (FPS) and the dialogue one must experience throughout the campaign only add to the environment of World War II combat.  The graphics put the player into 1940’s Europe and the constant action keeps the player entertained with the game.

Gameplay when dialogue commonly occurs

Yet, Call of Duty: WWII has features that takeaway from the overall immersion.  It is not surprising that there are features that reduce the immersion, but it is surprising how glaring they are.

The most obvious and least bothersome is the head-up display (HUD).  Most first person shooter games have a HUD, which is a status bar that relays information to the player.  As the picture below indicates, the HUD shows health, number of bullets, grenades, and other possible options, like a mortar strike or the use of binoculars.

Next is the historical accuracy of the game.  Although, locations and the overall narrative of WWII is followed, there are little things that add up.  For example, there are females enlisted in each military, which did not occur until later.  Additionally, the swastika has been censored in some parts of the game.  Now it is most likely that these two things have occurred because of culturalization.  Kate Edwards defines culturalization as “taking a deeper look (than localization) into a game’s fundamental assumptions and content choices and then assessing their viability both in the broad, multicultural marketplace as well as in specific geographic locales” (Edwards, 97).  It is possible to assume that censoring the swastika is a message and utilizing females is to make the game more personal for female players.  Another quality that take away from the immersion of the game is that some of the weapon sounds were made via software and not with the actual sounds from real life fire arms and are therefore inaccurate. A final issue with the historical inaccurate campaign is that the game starts with the invasion of Normandy, better known as D-Day. D-Day occurs on June 6, 1944, almost 5 years after the start of the war.

 

Kar98k Sniper

The most blaring characteristic that takes away from the immersion is the soundtrack.  There is nothing wrong with the soundtrack except that it plays while the game is going.  If I can hear the soundtrack while I am gunning down planes then that takes me out of the game.

Although there are immersive problems with the game, it is possible for a Call of Duty game to be immersive. This article ranks a Call of Duty (Black Ops)  game in the “top 10 most immersive games to play before you die.” https://www.moltenice.co/10-immersive-games/

 

Sources:

Edwards, Kate.  “Culturalization.” Debugging Game History. MIT Press, 2016.

 

 

 

Source: Why COD Lacks Immersion