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Submitted by MattS 1163d ago | opinion piece

The lie of interactivity and immersion; how Mass Effect, Skyrim and others have tricked us

Digitally Downloaded writes: "If you asked many gamers what attracts them to the hobby, you’ll often hear that it’s because games are ‘immersive’ or ‘interactive.’ And yet, if you look at the popular games in the industry, it is those traits – immersion and interactivity – that are deliberately suppressed by the major developers, and largely without complaint by the community." (Assassin's Creed III, Dear Esther, Industry, Mass Effect, Minecraft, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim)

Dark_Overlord  +   1164d ago
I'll agree that all games are pretty much

A - B - C

A = Beginning
B = Middle
C = End

So what if we're tricked into an illusion of interactivity (point B), does it stop me from enjoying the game any less? No, and IMO that's all that matters to me :)

On a side note, this seems like exactly what the bloke who created Dyad said a few days ago.
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MattS  +   1164d ago
You're right that it doesn't stop a game from being entertaining, any more than a Michael Bay movie is stopped from being fun because it is brain dead.

However, games can be far more than just fun, and I would like to see developers aiming to take advantage of the interactivity that games are capable of, and stop trying to copy the film industry.

Games have a long way to go before they will fully realise their potential.
Dark_Overlord  +   1164d ago
It would be nice, but I don't believe its essential :) The problem is, what these people are asking is beyond what devs/hardware etc are capable of at the minute.

A whole universe that creates an entirely new and different story every time, that you have complete control over? The amount of coding that would require would be insane, let alone what hardware could calculate all those random variables at once :)
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MattS  +   1164d ago
@Overlord - the article mentions just two examples of it actually happening - Minecraft and Dear Esther. Two games that are completely interactive and non-linear, and these were two games made by teams 1/1000th the size of the team that made, say, Assassin's Creed 3.

There are ways to tell stories without telling a story - you get the player to make the story.

The whole "it's not possible at the moment," is an excuse, nothing more. It is possible, even if it's difficult.
nrvalleytime  +   1164d ago

"the article mentions just two examples of it actually happening - Minecraft and Dear Esther. Two games that are completely interactive and non-linear, and these were two games made by teams 1/1000th the size of the team that made, say, Assassin's Creed 3.

There are ways to tell stories without telling a story - you get the player to make the story. "

But there's an issue we're not addressing at all - getting the player to create the story is an illusion at best. Parameters are set in place with specific tools given to you by that game's developer or developing team, and you're told to create a story.

That's merely another example of the false interactivity this article mentions. Look - narrative in videogames exists. That's clearly true. We're discussing how immersion occurs, quite a different issue altogether.
MattS  +   1164d ago
@valleytime - you're going to have to explain that further, because it's confusing me as it is - sorry.

From what I understand of your point - there is no false interactivity if the player is the one creating the story. That's interactivity by the very definition of the word.

Writing a book doesn't suddenly become a falsely interactive process because the author has to use paper and a pen/ keyboard/ typewriter. The tools/ mechanics of games like Minecraft and Dear Esther are merely there to enable interactivity, not force players to play in a specific way.
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Dark_Overlord  +   1163d ago
IMO Minecraft is a bad example, yes it is non linear, but at the same time you are still restricted to what you can do within the confines of the game.

At most, you get a somewhat randomly generated level, but from then on you are locked into what the game is programmed to allow you to do (same for every player) :)
sway_z  +   1163d ago
The fundamental problem with a totally free form game where boundaries do not exist is that the player loses direction and the game becomes lost within itself.

Games need a beginning, middle and end structure...every aspect of life requires some kind of conclusion, or confusion and misdirection renders the experience as nothing more than a pointless exercise.

It's like traversing a very large field filled with wonder, but you don't have a clue as to where, what or why you're there.

Slightly off topic...

Seems to me there is a dark cloud over the gaming hobby we all love...

Endless articles of doom and negativity regarding Vita, Wii U, PS3 and 360. There is even negativity regarding consoles that haven't even been released yet?!

Games are what you get out of them....Every game is an illusion of something, and most seasoned gamers know more or less what they're buying into with games. So I don't quite get where the writer is going with this.

I say we ALL just enjoy the systems/games we choose and end this negativity. Gaming is a fun hobby and should be seen as such.
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cleft5  +   1163d ago
Decisions in games really don't matter because no matter what games have preset beginnings, middles, and endings. With that said a few games give you actual freedom and choice. For instance, in Way of the Samurai you could literally just turn around and leave and the game would be over. But for the most part this just doesn't happen in games.

The truth is that the outcome of your choice doesn't necessarily matter, what matters is the emotional impact upon the player when they make those choices. In Mass Effect 3, when I had chose to leave behind Mordin Solus to rectify the Krogan problem, and I knew this would result in his death, I started crying. Bioware had succeeded in creating an emotional attachment to that character and it matter to me when he died. Ultimately, that was a predetermined path I was taking, but this didn't lessen the emotional impact of that decision. Once I started realizing that my decisions where going to result in some of my favorite characters deaths, it weighed on me emotionally.

In the Walking Dead the Game, no choice you ever make really matters in the end. Yet each decision is hard to make and it really affects you emotionally. Walking Dead was easily one of the best games I played this year. There is certainly the illusion of freedom, but by the second part of the next episode everything ends the way the developers want it to regardless of your choice. You got to shape your experience but the game developers dictated exactly where you would go regardless of your choices.

Choices matter only when the developers succeed in emotionally attaching you to the characters, be it through caring or just wanting to make the proper choices to get you some sex. Saying your choices matter because you will be emotionally attached to your characters just isn't a good marketing point, or at least publisher think it isn't. So we get this constant line of none sense about how every decision we made is going to effect the game world. When in reality, everything has already been predetermined by the developers.
nikrel  +   1163d ago
Real life still has boundaries & limitations. No one on this website is god or has any type of angelic/demonic powers to create something from nothing.

People need to stop with the my actions define this game, and play it as for what all games are, story.
We are playing interactive books, set everything.

If you want to play something where every choice matter, there is a platform for that. " imagination "

Just give up and give in to the story we are being told from writers.
MilkMan  +   1163d ago
Please delete this BS article. If it wasnt for games like Mass Effect wed still be playing "role playing" games (read Adventure games) called Final Fantasy.
Pleease cut the crap. I'll take Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Skyrim and Fallout NV over Final Fantasy any year PERIOD.
SageHonor  +   1163d ago
Didn't trick me :P
BattleTorn  +   1163d ago
-insert- "It's all about the journey" cliche -here-

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