Grunt’s Grumblings: Investing in Immersion

The question that arises for me this week is, how much is too much when being involved in a game? Whether it be the community, or really putting yourself into the characters’ shoes. The answer? As much (or as little) as you want to be. Alright, boom, we’re done here. See you all in a few weeks.

Ok, so we’re not entirely finished here. “Immersion” and “games” are two words people love to have in the same sentence often, myself included sometimes. Normally this means how well a game pulls you, the player, into its universe. To me though, it not only means that but it can also mean how much you immerse yourself in the community of a game. In posts before, I have preached how I feel that gaming is also a social experience just as much as it is experiencing what the developers have created for us. Participating in the community of your favorite game can be a really good experience in its own way. Since I don’t have any willing volunteers (I swear, I was prepared for this!), let me use myself as an example. It’ll be a brief trip down memory lane…

It all started with something called the IGL (or the IGLoo…), basically I was at a point where I was eating, breathing, and sort of sleeping Grifball. I was really wanting to involve myself more in the community, but I couldn’t figure out where. I saw there was this small league that ran stuff in the off-seasons of the larger leagues and they were looking for admins to help with the next season. I figured that having no prior experience running any sort of league would make it nearly impossible for me to get selected as an admin, but I metaphorically threw caution to the wind and applied and eventually was selected as one. Fast forward until after the IGLoo had melted and I got to know some dude named FranticJ3 and played a season of Grifball with him and now we’re here. My point to this is, if you want to get involved more in a community, go for it. You never know what things could come out of it later.

More to this, participating in a community can just be fun in general. I have been part of the Bungie community for just over ten years and some of my best memories of gaming have come not just from the games, but interacting with other fans of the same game I’m playing. What does any of that have to do with immersion? It goes back to what I mentioned near the start of this. To me, immersing yourself in a game doesn’t just come down to how well a game pulls you into its universe, or how much of a backstory you gave your character in that RPG you’re playing. The time commitments to involving yourself in a game or its community may differ, but you are still making that commitment to doing more with your favorite game.

Another way of immersing yourself into a game, one that is a little more “in line” with our typical definition of immersion, is that of trying to actually put yourself into your character. I know of a few people that do this when they start up an RPG and create their own characters and I have to admit that this is a cool idea. Personally, I’ve been trying to do more of it when I’ve created a character for a tabletop RPG and have kind of enjoyed it myself.

Continuing on with this thought, I’ve heard tales of how involved people get into playing their character when they are playing a tabletop RPG or something similar. At some point over on my own blog I mentioned how I got interested in playing Dread and how much fun my first session of playing it was. More to the point though, the people I played with in that session really got into the mindset of their character. Including the person who was the narcissistic doctor who claimed to care about everyone else more than themselves. Not only did this help with making my time playing that game more memorable, which is always a plus in my book, but it also reinforced the thought that investing yourself into your character is another form of immersion.

How much thought you put into your character is, again, entirely up to you. Truthfully, I didn’t put much thought into my Skyrim character when I created it. It’s just a generic “hero who is here to save the day and tame dragons” kind of deal; there is no backstory to my character, or why they prefer carrying a sword in their strong hand and a shield in their off hand. Or why they are all of a sudden using a bow instead of this previously mentioned sword and shield combo.  This is also where I make reference to my lack of creativity a majority of the time being a cause for the aforementioned issues and how I ended up with a D&D character whose name is a play on a character from The Lord of the Rings.

Outside of investing the time into making your character sound like a truly badass person, you can also invest time into immersing yourself into the lore or backstory of a game that the developers have created for you to explore. My mindset of encouraging you to slow down and admire the game world comes into effect here partially; however, I completely understand that there are people who absolutely love those aspects of a game. I often poke fun at Freakshow for being our resident Lore Nerd when it comes to Destiny lore (you lore nerd you), but my point behind this is, that is what he chose to invest his time and immerse himself in.

To wrap this up before it gets too lengthy and I just start to sound like I’m a rambling mad man, my point is this. Immersion is something we all love in games but in my opinion, there are many more ways than we may think to immerse ourselves in the games we love and play. Some are simple enough, they might range from letting yourself be pulled in completely by the story to maybe something like not just playing as your character, but more so acting as your character in a tabletop game. Or maybe you look at immersing yourself in a game as being an active member of its community instead. How you choose to immerse yourself in a game is entirely up to, and how much you choose to do so is also entirely up to you.

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