Daily Think: Immersed vs Engrossed

My favorite video game genre is the immersive sim. It’s a game that strives to be what the video game should be–an immersive experience that places players within a world and lets them interact with it. As a rule, it utilizes a hybrid of first person and role-playing elements (stats or conversation systems), but it also uses more complex AI systems to help further the illusion of a living, breathing world. It’s trying to simulate a whole world. Skyrim, for example, is a game that’s more immersive sim than anything else, because everything it does is about letting you really slip into the game’s world.

Anyways, some people seem to take issue with the word immersion, ’cause they point out that they can get immersed in other games.

Well… yes and no. We have two definitions for immersion, and generally, when someone talks about immersiveness in a game sense, they’re talking about getting players to feel like they’re really in the world. They’re talking about the holodeck style of immersion, rather than the other kind of immersion, which is more along the lines of engrossed. Someone can be engrossed in a chess match, but they can never be immersed to the point where they feel like the chess pieces are a real army fighting a real war. It’s too abstract for that.

So, next time you hear someone talk about immersion, try to figure out which kind they mean. If you enter into a conversation and you use different meanings of the same word, you’ll end up with needless confusion.

Oh yeah. I’m BACK. New posts inbound, hopefully all week. My “collection of  mini reviews for this year’s games that I didn’t review already” will be up next.

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