Becoming One with the Game

As time, and technology, advances one of the core elements that Raph Koster discusses is the idea of immersion in video games. Or is it?

Games didn’t begin immersive, as Koster says about something as simple as mancala. But looking at games we have now, like the newest trend of Pokemon Go! it’s clear to see how immersive we’ve gotten. But is it really immersive as it seems? An immersive experience is one by which Dictionary.com says “noting or pertaining to digital technology or images that deeply involve one’s senses and may create an altered mental state.”

An altered mental state. It’s part of the definition but do we actually achieve it to become fully immersed? The answer may seem like a yes, but it’s probably a no. Koster throws out the idea that even though we’re in this game, we can get notifications to join a party or a group and be in this game with our friends. From this point we can chat about the day we had, or what the other is up to while we play whatever game we’re in; taking out the immersive experience and replacing it with just another way to keep in touch with our friends.

While Pokemon Go! is a big hit right now and a lot of users are taking it to the extreme like how one woman found a dead body, cops are suspecting large groups of Pokemon players to be participating in drug deals, or whatever the case may be; we are normally out trying to catch them all as group or with a friend or two. Does this hinder the immersive aspect the game makers are trying to achieve, or does it only make it better by putting your world in the game and not requiring us to do the imagination for ourselves?

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2 thoughts on “Becoming One with the Game

  1. I believe that Pokemon Go is both immersive and social as you and your friends are able to experience this augmented reality together. I think that immersive video games offer an escape. A truly successful immersive game allows for the creativity of the game designers and provides enough different paths or alternate endings so that the player can use their own imagination. As games are becoming more social, game designers must create new ways so that different players can interact together and affect the reality that the game exists in. Pokemon Go is fantastic example of this. It has become successful because it was successfully able to combine the immersion and the social environment.

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  2. Immersion is definitely a slippery term in the game theory world; you’re pointing to some of the problems with defining the word we have (and probably will continue to have). The best way to look at it is to focus on the aspect that affects your *sense* of immersion – the *feeling* you have that you are *in* the game as opposed to controlling it from the outside. This tends to have to do with visual and aural stimuli – what you can see and hear – though there have been games that use rudimentary touch feedback, like a controller that buzzes, to try to catch another of your senses.

    With Pokemon Go and other mobile games, there’s at least the potential to incorporate all your senses, as you associate the touches, smells, and perhaps even tastes of the environment in which you play. But how to harness all that immersiveness to make the game feel more “present” in the world is the really hard thing for designers to figure out.

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