From the first sight of cinema with sound, it have been intended to make the spectator feel that he was living the footage, not just watching a succession of images.
A famous story is the train short film, where a train approaches to the camera, and while then, the sound of an approaching train increases in loudness. Nonsense things nowadays, but back then it made people run from the room in terror. But… What does it have in common with video games?
As time goes by, technology, as well as society, has been progressing, and gradually it has been increasing the resources to make video games more immersive. Now it’s not unusual to find an exquisite use of both the audio and the visual, as well as the stories of the characters, and the acting that makes you feel identified with the actors. However, with the appearance of videogames another point was discovered: taking part in the action.
This “channel”, unlike cinema, allows you to influence the narrative process, in some cases simply fulfilling a task, and in other cases, it interferes in the result of the storyline, being your decisions and your actions key to its completion.
What does it means to be immersive for video games?
Of course, this adds a deeper level of empathy. It is no longer a character completing his objective, but rather you are the one who struggles to achieve that objective. The barrier between you and the character you control is blurred, and the best games are known for it. Who would face the same boss repeatedly if he didn’t find it a personal challenge? Who hasn’t doubted what answer to give to an NPC in case it turned out to be a mistake?
However, like cinema, videogames have also made a huge progress. Many games have thrilled us, taken us to great worlds and entertained us like never. Some of them have an unusual feature, something that makes this “empathy” with the game increases considerably.
How do they do it? Thanks to their mechanics, that is, how the game works.
Examples of immersive video games
We’ll give you some examples to explain this topic in a better way:
“Vampyr”, in which, as its name suggests, the main character is a vampire, and of course, includes mechanics that involves drinking blood. Those mechanics are used during all the story and affects remarkably its unfolding. You will have two options: Drink the blood of citizens, earning a lot of experience points with each one you “eat”, or don’t kill them and spare their lives.
In the first case, thanks to the use of blood, we’ll be able to face our enemies easily, but leaving the London neighbourhoods without population will make it more and more infested and more dangerous. By not drinking, our character will be weaker, but you will be able to complete a lot of secondary missions and clean up the different London districts.
This is where the player’s doubt comes in. If you chose not to drink, you will soon notice a great weakness, each and every task will be harder, knowing at all times that, if you drank blood, everything would have been easier. And it’s that similarity, the temptation of blood, that makes you feel sorry for the vampire, sharing his same desire.
League of Legends
Well-known League of Legends is a game where the main mechanics are always very similar, a “simple” team combat game. However, it has a great variety of characters, which is what creates diversity on many different occasions.
An example is “Warwick”, a werewolf that has an interesting mechanics. When an enemy player has reduced life points, Warwick is able to track him, increasing his speed and altering the display.
Warwick is anxious to find his prey, and that is reflected in the player, who, upon seeing these visual alerts, and seeing how he throws himself in pursuit of the wounded character, feels pushed, almost as if it were a necessity, to finish off that enemy.
This event, which seems almost involuntary, is due to the search to imitate the emotions of the character in the mechanics, and therefore, in the player, which makes it much a more immersive videogame.
Dead by Daylight
Last, but not least, we’ve all seen some scary movies, and they all have a very similar format. They introduce you to the characters so that you can sympathize with them, so it becomes more immersive, and then the killer goes finishing them one by one. But how do you empathize with characters that aren’t introduced to you?
In “Dead by Daylight”, four players are survivors and will try to survive a fifth player, who is the killer. The game is based on trying to run away from the murderer, without a story or script. But the game manages to induce real terror. Its method is based on audio.
This immersive videogame has a music base, which adds tension, but also, when the killer is around, begins to play a music that puts a lot of stress on the player, which imitates the sound of a heart beating. The closer it is, the louder and faster the heart beats. The terror of being close to the presence of the murderer, the suffering of the character we’re controlling, is perfectly transmitted to the player thanks to this audio mechanics, to such a point that many players can make a lot of mistakes while trying to escape.
In the end, the quality that some games have is amazing, and thanks to the way the player interacts and how the game itself works, it manages to produce so many emotions, and therefore, to create a more immersive experience.