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Survey about Immersion


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#1 Betelgeuze01   Members   -  Reputation: 103

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Posted 20 March 2011 - 08:17 AM

I'm currently doing research about immersion in games, it's part of a school project. If you are a frequent gamer and want to help me in my research please answer the following questions in my survey. It's only 9 questions and should't take more than a couple of minutes.

I will give away a free copy of Minecraft (activation code) to one of the participants. If you want to win Minecraft please provide your e-mail at the end of the survey. The e-mails will only be used to notify the winner and is not required to participate in this survey.
http://www.thesistools.com/web/?id=181634


Ofcourse it would be interesting to discuss it in this topic too, and if you guys want I can share some of the results of the survey. One of the main things I would like to know is if the artstyle of a game have an effect on immersion. It sounds logic to say that gamers get more immersed in games with a realistisc artstyle compaired to a game with a cartoon style. I don't think thats really the case. What do you guys think?



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#2 ImmoralAtheist   Members   -  Reputation: 118

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Posted 20 March 2011 - 10:14 AM

Answered your survey. Immersion can be very different depending on game type, but "true" immersion is (for me) when you control a character in a virtual universe, typically in a rpg. So rpg's and mmorpg's. Mmorpg's though tend to have very much non immersing stuff. Enemies that have visual aggro rings, and no smart behaviour is not what I'd call immersive.

#3 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4981

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Posted 20 March 2011 - 01:57 PM

I did the survey. I love immersive games because I love stories and the sense of being inside an interactive story or world. But I wanted to add the point that immersion as a virtue doesn't apply to all genres of game, If you were making, say, a solitaire card game, that whole genre is not immersive and not intended to be.

Phone game idea available free to someone who will develop it (Alphadoku game - the only existing phone game of this type is both for windows phone only and awful. PM for details.)


I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me. I also love pet-breeding games.


#4 Betelgeuze01   Members   -  Reputation: 103

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Posted 20 March 2011 - 02:32 PM

Thanks for participating and interesting comments!

Immersion is indeed something complicated and depends on many things but I think people can get immersed in any type of game to some extend.
You mention a card game genre is not immersive, would you say people who play poker online are never immerser (or can't get immersed)? Please explain :)

#5 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4981

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Posted 20 March 2011 - 04:13 PM

Thanks for participating and interesting comments!

Immersion is indeed something complicated and depends on many things but I think people can get immersed in any type of game to some extend.
You mention a card game genre is not immersive, would you say people who play poker online are never immerser (or can't get immersed)? Please explain :)


I believe that immersion requires placing the player in a simulation of a physical environment. The player has to feel that their 5 senses are being stimulated in more or less the same way they would be if the player were to go to an interesting location. A card game or board game really doesn't lend itself to that because irl they are played sitting still, probably in a boring location. At a real poker tournament or chess tournament the most immersive aspect would probably be watching other players' body language and facial expressions, but that's all but impossible to simulate in a game, unless you want to do it with no subtlety at all.

Phone game idea available free to someone who will develop it (Alphadoku game - the only existing phone game of this type is both for windows phone only and awful. PM for details.)


I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me. I also love pet-breeding games.


#6 cih   Members   -  Reputation: 124

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Posted 20 March 2011 - 04:54 PM

I believe immersion is gained with consistancy, and lost without.

I'll take the First Person Shooter genre for example. Give me photorealism, true to life physics, characters shaped accurately down to the ear lobe. Then have them run mindlessly in the thousands through my crosshairs with not a single thought for the trivialities that are safety, fear, self worth or god forbid -- tactics.

Now, that's quite alright if the game actually portrays these people as a band of bloodthirsty lobotomized morons, but if not -- you're just feeding a teenagers fantasy, and sadly I (and probably most of those wishing to see this medium evolve into something greater) am way past that.

When the game portrays itself as realisitc and is in reality not, it cheats the player.

If I'm to whistand a thousand shots and keep on fighting, give me a goddamn reason for it. Half-Life had the HEV suit and, in fact, their grunts were pretty much smarter than any AI foe I've tackled before or since; including Half-Life 2's, which really eludes me beyond reason.

#7 Betelgeuze01   Members   -  Reputation: 103

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Posted 21 March 2011 - 04:47 AM

I believe that immersion requires placing the player in a simulation of a physical environment. The player has to feel that their 5 senses are being stimulated in more or less the same way they would be if the player were to go to an interesting location. A card game or board game really doesn't lend itself to that because irl they are played sitting still, probably in a boring location.

Interesting, so what about traditional paper-RPG games, what about text-based games like ZORG? Those are very basic, played sitting still and probably in a boring location too, yet they are a great example of immersive games imo.

I personally think I can get as immersed in an online poker game as in a real one, and to give another example of a card-game Ive been immersed in in the past: pokémon cardgames. I wasn't playing with cards, I was 'attacking' with real pokémon, I got immersed in the game! ;) There's even been attempts to make immersion for cardgames even stronger with Augmented Reality: Eye of Judgment. Still in the end, they are just cards you are playing with.

#8 Telastyn   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3726

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Posted 21 March 2011 - 08:13 AM

This has come up before, and I'll probably get filleted again for this, but I don't ever really get immersed in a game; as far as I never feel as though I'm there, or I'm the space marine killing the alien horde. Frankly I find the entire concept really creepy, and to be honest unhealthy. Sure, I'll get into a game as far as interest in a story, or a bit of tension up during a good FPS. But never, ever fantasizing about being there. Creepy.

#9 MrDaaark   Members   -  Reputation: 3555

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Posted 21 March 2011 - 08:43 AM

This has come up before, and I'll probably get filleted again for this, but I don't ever really get immersed in a game; as far as I never feel as though I'm there, or I'm the space marine killing the alien horde. Frankly I find the entire concept really creepy, and to be honest unhealthy. Sure, I'll get into a game as far as interest in a story, or a bit of tension up during a good FPS. But never, ever fantasizing about being there. Creepy.



I voted for Left 4 Dead 2 on the survey. When played right, it really is as if you are going up against the horde, because they are controlled by other players.

You have to rely on 3 other people to work together, and just like in all the best zombie movies, their tiny mistakes will cost you dearly.
The other players are controlling the advanced zombies, and can see you at all times. They are planning a huge ambush to separate and kill all of you.
At any time a horde of 500 zombies can randomly spawn in, or even worse, a tank zombie.

Everything is randomized. Supplies are rare. Healing supplies even rarer. You never know what is about to spawn, where, or how many. The enemy players can be standing right behind you, waiting to spawn in and crash through a door to kill you. And you have all your team mates screaming in your ear.

One guy comes up and spits ooze at all the players, blinding them and attracting a huge horde of zombies to come swarm them so everyone is panicking trying to shoot the swarm, and not each other.
Another guy pounces and pins one of the players to the ground and starts cutting them up.
Another guy throws his tongue out from 100 feet away, and drags a player far away from team mates, choking him to death.

Everyone is legitimately excited. The enemy players are trying to get as much damage done as possible before the non-pinned players recover.
The players are about to have a heart attack and legitimately worried. They are trying to fight off the swarm and save their pinned team mates at the same time. But they are blind and severely disoriented.

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Uncharted 2 was very immersive because I don't like heights. They handle the perception of space, height, and gravity very well. Lots of the gaps have rough or very close landings. Sometimes you land and lose your grip or footing and it's heart stopping for me. Posted Image

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Dead Rising 2 has lots of immersion for me because I always try to save all the survivors and get them back to the safe house. But they are extremely stupid ai wise (purposely), and they do nothing but cost you time and cause you no end of extra trouble. It has a good risk / reward balance. I've even gotten legitimately pissed at the less intelligent, or naggier ones.


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If the storyline or emotional content is done well enough, I can empathize with it the same as I would in a movie.

#10 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4981

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Posted 21 March 2011 - 02:40 PM

I believe that immersion requires placing the player in a simulation of a physical environment. The player has to feel that their 5 senses are being stimulated in more or less the same way they would be if the player were to go to an interesting location. A card game or board game really doesn't lend itself to that because irl they are played sitting still, probably in a boring location.

Interesting, so what about traditional paper-RPG games, what about text-based games like ZORG? Those are very basic, played sitting still and probably in a boring location too, yet they are a great example of immersive games imo.

I personally think I can get as immersed in an online poker game as in a real one, and to give another example of a card-game Ive been immersed in in the past: pokémon cardgames. I wasn't playing with cards, I was 'attacking' with real pokémon, I got immersed in the game! ;) There's even been attempts to make immersion for cardgames even stronger with Augmented Reality: Eye of Judgment. Still in the end, they are just cards you are playing with.

Well, different people do find different things immersive, as Telastyn was just pointing out. Personally, I've played lots of card games but they very immersive to me, nor are text-based games like MUDs. Yet somehow novels are, and I remember being quite immersed playing pretend with toys as a child, so who knows how that works. But mainly it's visuals in motion combined with a good soundtrack that are required to make me personally feel immersed. Consistency within the world like cih mentions is also helpful. I have a harder time feeling immersed with still, black and white visuals like in a manga/comic, but I can sometimes get immersed in those.

Phone game idea available free to someone who will develop it (Alphadoku game - the only existing phone game of this type is both for windows phone only and awful. PM for details.)


I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me. I also love pet-breeding games.


#11 Moe   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1248

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Posted 21 March 2011 - 03:43 PM

When I think of immersion, I think of setting up a likely setting and a set of rules to which a game universe and everything in it must obey. If something greatly exceeds or breaks the rules of the universe, it breaks immersion. Thinking about the answers to your questions, one game that came to mind (but I didn't put down) was Just Cause 2. The game itself is ludicrously absurd in what it lets you do - parachute onto moving vehicles by grappling them with a hook thing, then jump from vehicle to vehicle or jump out of a vehicle flying off a cliff and then pulling a parachute. The thing is, the game world, or the universe in question, sets those sort of rules right at the beginning, and doesn't necessarily break them. Because such wild things are allowed in the game, it doesn't break immersion when you do even crazier things (like riding on the wing of an aircraft, or jump out of a flying helicopter, grapple, it, and then get back into it and keep flying it.

To me, immersion is all about establishing a set of rules, and having both players and the computer obey those rules. This also comes into play with things like environmental/level design and art direction. If something is believable, it will make sense in accordance with the rules of the game world. When you are attempting to mimic real world, and you have a crate inside a room that is larger than any entrance to a room, it breaks immersion. If you had previously established it in your game world that stationary objects can teleport around, then it could perhaps make sense.

Along with sunandshadow, appealing to all the senses (or as many as physically possible) helps. Force feedback, decent audio, and believable graphics (note - that's believable, not necessarily realistic) all help to establish the universe in which the game is set. Trespasser - still one of my favourite games does an incredible job with the audio. Being on a tropical island, you hear various birds chirping, and sounds like a booming shotgun would echo off the mountain walls of a valley. The pawing, snorting velociraptors made it really feel like they were after you (despite the AI actually being that smart). Had the dinosaurs been able to walk through walls (which sometimes happened due to glitchy physics), it broke the immersion. So did the ability to lift things that looked incredibly heavy objects, with a broken in-game hand mechanic that defied the physical laws set elsewhere in the universe.

#12 MeshGearFox   Members   -  Reputation: 158

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Posted 21 March 2011 - 05:18 PM

Immersion is a nebulous concept and not something I ever actively seek.

#13 krez   GDNet+   -  Reputation: 443

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Posted 21 March 2011 - 08:05 PM

I think immersion is basically a game's ability to catch your imagination without accidentally pushing you back out. Obviously nobody ever actually thinks they are no longer sitting around playing a game, but a good immersive game will make one not pay any attention to that fact. You are no longer manipulating a controller or keyboard and mouse to make a guy on the screen do something; you are thinking what the character should do and it happens. You get caught up in a great story or the beautiful scenery. You really want revenge on that damned beastie that trashed the village and stole the princess.

Once you are at that point, you are immersed. There's no magical hallucination that disconnects you from reality; it's just a matter of focused attention to the exclusion of minding what's going in the room around you. At least, until the game crashes, or the story pulls a stupid twist, or things start acting buggy, or you suddenly notice that you have to urinate REALLY badly and your foot is numb.

I don't think art style has much to do with immersion at all, at least not for me (it's probably different for everyone). More important is consistency withing the game world and good intuitive controls (or practice with the controls until they seem good and intuitive). If I'm conscious of trying to control the game there is no immersion, I'm just trying to figure out how to play a game.

#14 Zethariel   Members   -  Reputation: 310

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Posted 22 March 2011 - 05:10 AM

Answered your survey.

I found Monday Night Combat very immersive for me. The reason for that came to me with time - the design is well thought out. The commentaries of the speaker, albeit a bit odd at times and random for the most part, tell the story of the world, snippets of the life that the player does not see while acting out as a gladiator for the masses. It didnt take long for me to start wondering how does that world look - how crude it is, what is the political structure, are they really human? All it needed was a few, simple and random ideas to prod imagination to life.

Then comes the game. It's true that the RPG games are easy to immerse into - you forget that you have your fingers on the keyboard, you connect through your mouse with the character on screen. It reminds me of the book "False Mirrors" by Siergiej Łukianienko (any gamer should read this book, it is very interesting and shows how the gaming/software industry might develop. I really recommend this book :D) - we become what we see - the knight, the mage, the rogue trader. Here, in Monday Night Combat, I was stunned I got so much into my character - basically it was me and my team, struggling against other opponents, trying to get that moneyball down to win some cash. I totally failed to notice the passing time, I no longer had my hands on the keyboard/mouse and I nearly felt the wind in my hair while traversing at top speed through the arena towards my goal (played the assasin :P). After finishing up (god it was late....) I still could only bring to mind pieces of the game - it felt great.

If anything, that is what I would call true immersion - like having a dream with your eyes open and mind clear.
Disclaimer: Each my post is intended as an attempt of helping and/or brining some meaningfull insight to the topic at hand. Due to my nature, my good intentions will not always be plainly visible. I apologise in advance and assure I mean no harm and do not intend to insult anyone, unless stated otherwise

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#15 In.Vain   Members   -  Reputation: 108

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Posted 22 March 2011 - 02:17 PM

I used to enjoy getting immersed in games, but ever since I stopped spending a significant part of my free time on games I actually really dislike games that ask me to emotionally attach myself to them. Immersion takes a lot of effort and dedication and I'm not willing to invest that much of my concentration on something that's supposed to be relaxing.

Here's a thought that I came up with while I filled out the survey:
Serious driving simulation games such as Live For Speed or iRacing create an extremely strong sense of immersion without any sort of emotional content. The player doesn't identify himself with a virtual racing car pilot but competes in a virtual enviroment as himself against the players of the other vehicles. However, the sense of actually hunting down the next car or holding on to a leading position against a quicker driver is emotionally extremely engaging. The feeling for the physical state of the vehicle can be surprisingly strong. Considering that the vehicle is in fact completely virtual and that there actually aren't any front dampers with improperly set up compression values there can be a very strong feeling of just that.

#16 AngleWyrm   Members   -  Reputation: 554

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Posted 22 March 2011 - 08:53 PM

Immersion for me is just involving my mind to the exclusion of my immediate surroundings, just like reading a book. And a book doesn't need fancy graphics, sound, physics system, or first person perspective to be engaging. It merely needs to be interesting and consistent.

Consistency is a problem that Hollywood has not fully comprehended yet, and many stories lose their audience because of it. In the movie Star Trek, the Romulan's first attack on the USS Kelvin results in a damage report that all weapons are offline. Oh no! Now what!? But then during the next five minutes, the Kelvin fires it's weapons to fend off an attack on escaping shuttles. This absurdity ruined the entertainment, and left me sitting in a theater chair in the dark, mumbling curses at the director, trying to get back into the movie and move forward. Notice again, it wasn't a matter of fancy graphics, sound, physics system, or first person perspective. In my opinion, inconsistency is what finally brought down the TV series Battlestar Galactica -- a failure to maintain a believable tapestry.

People have no trouble accepting the most astounding principles. Teleporter technology, cohesive holographic projections, time travel. But we seem to need a sense of rules of the universe. How does this time travel machine work? Tell me, and I'll accept it. But if you change the playbook, something cries foul. Like in the movie Primer, where the time travel rules seemed to be tossed out the window toward the end of the movie.

I've been harping on consistency with examples from the film industry, but it should be pointed out that shoebox with a pebble in it is consistent. You can shake it and the pebble bounces around. You can turn it over, and the pebble falls out. It's not exactly immersive entertainment though. What is missing?
--"I'm not at home right now, but" = lights on, but no ones home

#17 Betelgeuze01   Members   -  Reputation: 103

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Posted 23 March 2011 - 01:47 AM

Getting some great results, thanks everyone!

#18 guruproto   Members   -  Reputation: 103

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Posted 23 March 2011 - 01:48 PM

Immersion is what draws the gamer into the game. It is that feeling you get when you place yourself in the game instead of being a passive spectator to the events that unfold within the environment. You do not think you are controlling a soldier as he runs and guns through the battlefield - you are that soldier. Just like 3D movies and books make you believe you are witnessing the events firsthand, a game with immersion makes the player believe they are there.

When people think immersion, they usually refer to titles such as Oblivion or Fallout 3, but FPS games like Left 4 Dead, Halo, and Black Ops (despite the arcade like gameplay) can offer the same level of immersion. The sound of a sniper bullet whizzing past your head; the ghastly scream of an approaching horde; the dust and debris coupled with the thundering boom of a mortar strike; these are the things that make gamers believe that they in a new world and that they are actively participating in it. These are the 'Holy S***' moments.


I am not saying people should abandon reality and choose to accept a virtual environment as the 'real world'. I am not asking gamers to 'connect' and become attached to a virtual avatar or game. I'm also not telling soldiers that their bullet wounds will heal in seconds or that a pill will magically heal their broken legs. I am saying that some of the best titles have a way of making the gamer believe they are doing these things.

Immersion means the difference between looking at the corpses of zombies on the street and saying, "Yes, my dude just made it past the horde" and instead saying "You see all those bodies? I did that."

#19 Fox89   Members   -  Reputation: 145

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Posted 23 March 2011 - 02:55 PM

Completed the survey.

What I will say about Immersion is that there are many different kinds, I believe, and I think when designing a game you want to keep what kind of immersion you are going for in mind. For example, in Final Fantasy IX I get immersed in the story and characters, and that has an incredible emotional effect on me. But I don't feel like I am 'in' the game world. I don't get 'physically' immersed. There is a certain degree of that that comes from controlling an interesting protagonist for the entire game, but even then that isn't me, I'm learning about this protagonist as I go along.

Deus Ex is a much better example of physical immersion. You are given a character with a certain degree of history, but the story is the one you create in his shoes. You are immersed in the world of this character and your actions and, more importantly, your choices have a very real impact on the game world. Minecraft does this very well too. The more influence you have on the game world, and the less that game world tells you, the more physically immersive it becomes.

#20 Xander the Dawn Knight   Members   -  Reputation: 102

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 11:24 PM

New here, so I'm just jumping on in after completing the survey.

When I think of immersion in a game, I think of actually setting up player to be a part of the experience. When you have a game that is trying to hard to be a movie, with everything scripted and the player character being his own character instead of a representation of the player, then it breaks immersion and the player is set to simply move from one cutscene to the next...not necessarily a bad thing but not immersion.

When you have a game that allows the player to act as him or herself within the game world, then we have immersion. One thing I really appreciated about a game like Half-Life 2 was that it placed you in the role of an established character, but still allowed you as the player to act freely in how they go about the story. Immersion will most often have to incorporate choice, but many games actually find a balance between a linear game flow and choice. For example, one thing I like doing in Uncharted 2 is using the pistol whenever I can, even against tougher enemies. Because of that choice, I'm immersing myself into the game more than if the game had just told me what weapon to use.




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