Immersion: The rule of Opposites [Gamer By Design]

The word “immersion” is thrown about every single day at video game companies and schools. In the industry, it basically means the idea of making a player feel as if they’re part of the experience (or simulation). In layman’s terms, it means they forget that they’re playing a game and “become” the character. They forget they are sitting in a living room. This is similar to watching a good film or play; you are entertained enough to be transported to another place. So here, in the mini-rant of the month, I’m gonna talk about two very broken techniques of immersion and why they don’t work. Number One, The Mute Lead I’ve worked on a few games in which it was decided that we would have a mute lead. The intent: This is intended to avoid forcing the voice upon the character you control, thus allowing you to be immersed as the character. The result: The result of this is that it’s jarring. Humans are accustomed to interactions, and to have the star of the show not talking makes them seem passive and strange. We’ll talk about the famous Holodeck from Star Trek fame below, but here’s the point. Unless you are actually walking around, touching things, and talking to people, you aren’t gonna somehow identify with that character because he doesn’t talk. This underestimates humans and all the complexities of their ability to communicate. It underestimates our emotional sensitivity to the ideas of identity and character. On the other hand, if you create a really interesting, well-wrought character as the lead, the player may identify with them because they share personality traits, because they want to be heroic or brash like that person, or because they think they’re funny. See what I mean? People...