How Do Immersive Video Games Work?

Mehdi Maleki
Articles July 13, 2024, 1:21 am
how do immersive games work?

I lived that game! Personally, I may have said this phrase at least 10 times. Most of the games in this category have immersed us. The world, story or gameplay of immersive video games make us feel that they really exist. But how do these 3 things immerse us in video games?

Immersion in the environment

environmental immersion is the first thing comes to mind when we talk about immersion. Immersive Sim games are the best example of this type of immersion. In these games, an attempt is made to create a parallel world. In this world, your actions have consequences, but beyond these consequences, it seems that even the world itself has a history without you and NPCs are interacting with it.

In these video games, the texts you find and the things you hear may refer to the history of items, people, or simply side information. This is what I mentioned a few moments ago, you feel like you have entered a new world with many details similar to the real world that you can easily immerse yourself in. We call this: Immersion in the environment!

how do immersive games work?

Dishonored and BioShock are the best examples of Immersive Sim games that include all these components. But here’s the interesting part, this kind of immersion isn’t just limited to immersive sim games. Actually, Games that have a lot of realistic elements can also be immersive. When someone reacts to Arthur’s outfit in Red Dead Redemption 2, we see an example of realism.

When Geralt’s horse in The Witcher 3 is afraid of monsters or when in Breath of The Wild you have to wear different clothes due to the temperature difference in different areas, we see realism once again. Because of this focus on realism, visual and audio details are very important in environment immersion.

Immersion in the story

Next topic is Immersion in the story. Narrative immersion simply immerses you in the game through the narration and characterization of the game characters. In this case, the story should be written and narrated in a subtle way so that the details and progress become important to you . Or in another word the characters itself and the relationships of the characters develop so well that you think you are between characters and you already know them.

So many games focus on better narrative, some on more detailed characterization, and some on a combination of this two. There are many companion characters in games these days. If this trend is executed correctly, the game will usually focus more on character development. For example, consider Ellie in The Last of Us. In The Last of Us, the story is not complicated at all, but the relationship between the two main characters of the game affects the player.

Joel and Ellie’s real connection makes you feel like you know them intimately, and when you know someone, their fate becomes very important to you. You get immersed in the events that happen in the emotional and human relationship between such characters. Some titles also decide to spend time on your own characterization instead of the overall story or characterization of your companion characters. Trevor Phillips from Grand Theft Auto V is one of these characters that every player feels they already know him and are friends with him beyond this medium.

Immersion in mechanics

The third subject is immersion in mechanics or in another word, gameplay. In this case, even without a realism world or a complex story, the player can be immersed in the game. If the gameplay defines enough rules and follows those rules to achieve a specific goal, and learning and implementing those rules is enjoyable for the player and remains enjoyable, we see the third state of immersion.

how do immersive games work?

Many indie games use this form of immersion. Most of the ideas that are used in independent games have an innovation and creativity in mechanics that remain creative over time. So, playing a good indie game is more engaging than playing ten AAA games, simply because they’re more immersive. A game like Baba is You is completely built on immersive gameplay mechanics. The gameplay sets its own rules and they evolve over time fluently.

You always see new things and meanwhile use old things. The distance between the introduction of new features and the way they are introduced is such that you learn them easily and the challenges never become unreasonable. The developers of these games know what ideas they built them on, so they never let them go.

Again, in these games, you immerse yourself in the incredible flexibility of the gameplay and the fun of messing with it. Papers Please, Fez, Subnautica and similar games all have this feature. Of course, there are some games that use two or three of the mentioned methods to immerse the players. If they succeed in this way, they will create one of those rare times when we say to ourselves: I really lived in that game!


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