April 13, 2011

My Thoughts on the Misuse of the Word Immersion

I am sure the entire lot of you that actually read over here might have noticed the actual new banner at the top. I didn't try to make anything extravagant and I am sure there are going to be a few that say they can do loads better. But I just wanted something simple and basic and reflects me in general. Nope, I didn't do any of the artwork, I haven't drawn anything in ages. I doubt I would be able to make good looking stick figures these days, not to mention I don't have any real tools to import them onto a computer and even attempt to make them live.

That bit out of the way, I've been debating the past few days what my next blog should be about. I generally wait till something juicy comes along, usually out of the fires of my own melodrama, but then when I look at it, I hardly post as much as I use to and I generally just sit back and only glance at front pages these days. I don't even feel inclined to go into the forums directly unless I am feeling really masochistic. This makes me wonder how positively cynical I must have become now if I don't even feel entering a forum is worth my time from the elevated levels of self-entitled stupid that floats around lately.

So that makes me wonder what I could talk about? I talked about what I wanted to see in a game and all that but I guess I could just pick a topic off the wall and start talking about that instead. So the random topic for today I wish t talk about will be immersion.

Now, if you are anyone that actually sifts through the filth that is an internet gaming forum, you will see this word crop up an uncomfortable amount of times throughout any reasonable sense of the actual bitching and moaning that generally goes on from people trying to propose ideas that would only benefit themselves and damn anyone else that has a different idea approach going on.

Now, in general, I have no problems with this word, and I have no issues at all with how it is being presented as something to strive for in a game, but it is so dangerously misused that often times I want to reach through the screen of my computer and just bitch slap the people that even dare use it. Let me explain.

The basic conceptual idea of immersion is something that gets you into the spirit of something. In other words, the idea is that you can sit back and not worry too much about if something is accurate or anything but you feel you have some connection to that world without actually being in it. Of course, some people are taking that word quite literally, and expect to be transported into the game and I don't think people understand how they are trying to use it anymore.

Long ago, I use to be a UO player. I loved classic UO, and I am sure anyone who remembers and played UO will probably say similar things. The game was lovingly called an Isometric view game, or now-a-days what people call 2.5D. For those that don't know, isometric is an angled top down view of the world that isn't from the first person perspective or anything. It's an extreme third person in other words.

Unlike today's modern MMO, the game didn't rely on a plethora of quests to keep people interested or a new big bad dungeon boss to want people to go out and conquer. Instead, it relied on the community to build itself and do things together, themselves. A relative playground. Believe it or not, this was quite immersing for many. Oh there were very tough monsters to overcome and you could own your own house and such and it was a dangerous world. In fact, many ideas WoW stole from UO such as the entire death screen thing and corpse hopping, but that's something for another day.

The game world actually felt alive, and in its early days, was literally alive as there was limited resources and such and required the economy to actually work. Of course, hoarding players came along and ruined that and they had to remove the entire artificial limit, but what grew out of that was probably one of the best and most thriving communities ever created for an MMO.

Me personally, I was primarily a crafter though I also had a mage character and probably one of the better duelists around. I remember when going to work when I wasn't busy I would actually draw up little diagrams to think up ways to optimize my little armor shop. You see, in UO, crafted armor from a master blacksmith was actually useful and could compare to the magical armor that was found out in the world to. This was immersive because my character was useful and I didn't need to practice with sword and sorcery just to go do something I was enjoying to do.

I owned a little shop near Cove in Felucca (the original world before they created care bear land of Trammel) and I was a part of a guild called the Defenders of Cove. Considering I was a blacksmith it shocked many that I actually also had some rudimentary fighting skills as well, so when it came to PKs trying to attack me they generally were in for a fight when I could pull out a weapon and start wailing on them, but this was all back in the day when things were simplistic and such.

But I am getting off on point here. What I was bringing up was about immersion and today people take that point just a little too far. Every time I see someone mention the word I cringe because what they describe isn't immersion at all, but actually being put in the world. They don't want to feel a part of the world they want to be a part of the world, and that's scary honestly. It's one step short of the Matrix scary to me honestly, when I sit here and listen to people say they want to feel immersed.

Personally I don't want people near my gaming if that's what they want or think it should be like. We are borderline almost back on top of the Dungeons and Dragons scare of the late 70s early 80s that happened. Yea I probably dated myself there, but trust me growing up and enjoying Dungeons and Dragons was very scary because media and just about every outlet was making you out to be a criminal. Never mind being a girl playing the game. But because of a couple of nut jobs, the PnP explosion of the late 80s, early 90s almost never happened.

In short, I will use Yahtzee's explanation of immersion. First I will say this, for most of you people, the way you are using to describe immersion, that's not how the word works. Get it through your thick heads, what you are describing isn't so much immersion but pretty much submerging, IE being completely drowned in what is there. Immersion is something where you tend to think about something from the game, or play it for a while and never realize you did, or even a slight extreme where you are walking about and think about some little bar or meter as you conduct your basic journey.

Use to do these little immersion things after playing CastleVania for a while (and not the Nancy boy CastleVania's that have come about either the originals that were tough). Immersion is a word, but it's being made into a scary word because it's being misused and so badly misunderstood as what it's true meaning is. I think people need to take a step back and realize what they want first before flinging words about or Jack Thompson's tirade and stupidity will actually be taken up by people with real clout and a D&D level take on it will occur. Thankfully, the people who have tried starting shit about MMOs and games in general haven't had enough intelligence to fill a teaspoon, but the wrong misstep somewhere can change that quickly.

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