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Gamasutra - First Person Immersion Myth

by Dhruin, 2009-09-04 22:48:34

Here's one that will probably spark debate.  This piece at Gamasutra contends a first-person view is actually a barrier to immersion, rather than more immersive than other views:

Are first-person games inherently more immersive? A lot of developers seem to presume that they are, but let’s take a second look. Consider the last time you felt like you actually were the character in a game you played. I’d be willing to guess that most people will say “never.” We don’t generally take on the role of the character we’re playing, except as children in imaginary play.

What most of us do is identify with the character -- and how can you identify with a character you can’t see, a character who usually doesn’t even talk or have any opinions about the horrible things going on around him? This goes back to the “silent hero” dilemma that has existed ever since role-playing made its way into the electronic world, notoriously perpetuated by the Japanese console RPG.

Almost all first-person games have this sort of silent character, one whose only interaction with others is usually taking orders until they turn their backs, and then just shooting and collecting things. That doesn’t seem inherently immersive to me. It can be, but it isn’t necessarily, as is often assumed. Western RPGs like Fallout 3 (or earlier games like Ultima IV) do a somewhat better job by at least allowing the player to make some dialog choices -- but still, the character isn’t you.

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