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What to expect of the player?

What to expect of the player?
« on: November 17, 2011, 02:25:03 am »

I'm note sure if this has been discussed before, anyhow lately I've been thinking about what we as developer can or should expect from the players in terms of devotion and commitment to be immersed into the game.

In general I think that most games can be immersive and it's mostly up the player to engage in role playing. This has been true since we were kids and engaged in playing cowboys and Indians which was as I can remember highly immersive, but also trough our teens I think we were more prone to engage in role playing with games then what we might be today. I can remember myself playing both Ghost Recon, Mafia and Pokemon and it being a highly immersive experience due to strong role playing by my self, I was unconsciously almost changing the narrative set up in the games to better fit my self into them and acting like I really were the main character. Now days it's rarely happening, can't even remember the last time I really was immersed in a game.

So what could this depend on? Are we less prone to engage in role playing as we grow older? Or is it something with being a developer that makes you analyze it instead of just letting go, accepting the game and be immersed into it?

So how much can we or should we expect the player to set his mind to be immersed into the game? Or how much hand holding, forcing(?) and manipulating should we do to make sure that the player will be immersed?   
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Re: What to expect of the player?
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2011, 03:16:28 pm »

We shouldn't expect them to be immersed at all.
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Irony is for cowards.
Re: What to expect of the player?
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2011, 07:51:42 pm »

We shouldn't expect them to be immersed at all.

Ideally I'd agree with this. In practise it might be too much work on the designer's part to fulfill this so I'd say expect as little as possible from your audience, then be pleasantly surprised if they bring more to it.
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Re: What to expect of the player?
« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2011, 10:54:55 am »

Immersion requires willingness. My main reference as a designer is real life. It is perfectly possible to exist in real life without being immersed in it. To really live a moment, and enjoy existence, you need stop what you're doing, perhaps even close your eyes so you can feel the air on your skin and hear everything and then absorb, and be absorbed.

So simply filling the virtual environment with interesting ambiance can get us a long way. I would argue that many contemporary video games don't do this very well, as they focus almost exclusively on action.

The other, additional path to immersion, is the impact your actions have on the environment. If your actions cause a change (even if it is only the grass that moves when you walk through it), your immersion will increase. In many games, however, your actions only impact elements that are relevant to the game structure. But the game, per definition, exists on another level of experience (and may come with its own sort of immersion).
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Re: What to expect of the player?
« Reply #4 on: November 20, 2011, 09:12:03 pm »

I was looking through some notes I took for my 3rd year project today and I found this quote:

Quote from: Affective Computing by Rosalind W. Picard - p91
One of our undergraduates played the computer game of "Doom" while wired up to several physiological sensors detecting signals that change with affective responses. We saw minor changes in several of the signals when he "found the rocket launcher" or when he "was killed." However, the biggest response we found, significantly higher than any other in the game, occurred not during a stressful life-threatening battle, but at a more surprising moment: when the software failed to work properly. None of the violent events in the game aroused the player as much as the software problem.


And underneath I had written the following note to myself: "Should assume that players believe/are invested in the game world? (Games have evolved a lot since then)"

So apparently I was thinking about this very same thing a few weeks ago, the idea just got burried in with a load of other irrelevant stuff.
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Re: What to expect of the player?
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2011, 10:08:46 am »

Maybe the Doom example illustrates that immersion is very important (at least in games like Doom) since malfunctioning software is the greatest imaginable disruption of immersion.
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Re: What to expect of the player?
« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2011, 07:22:39 pm »

Perhaps. It's difficult to say for sure since such absolute disruptions generally don't happen except as bugs so there's nothing to compare it with.
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Re: What to expect of the player?
« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2011, 06:12:48 pm »

so there's nothing to compare it with.

I would say you could compare it to having something in an experience that is irrelevant to the core experience. Bad bugs could be seen as irrelevant and therefore deterring.
Re: What to expect of the player?
« Reply #8 on: December 10, 2011, 11:41:06 pm »

I think you're probably right with the irrelevant thing. Stuff that causes disruptions to the core game, whether being internal to the game or external, do tend to be very annoying and thus cause a large emotional reaction. For example I seem to remember playing a platformer called 'Hubris' which, as one of its core mechanics, had graphics that made it difficult to tell what was going on and were quite disruptive to the platformy bits. Presumably because it was a core mechanic this disruption didn't bother me, whereas generally the graphics making it difficult to see what's going on is annoying in other games.
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