What is immersion?
One of the goals of most games is to get a gamer “immersed” in the experience. There are different types of immersion or “presence” , but in general it is an experience where a player’s entire focus is wrapped up in the game and they lose track of anything outside of it. A similar experience can be found in any medium. We have all read books that we “just couldn’t put down”, or watched movies that we were surprised to see end. Video games, with their built in engagement, offer more opportunities for immersion, and can allow immersion to be reached more easily than other forms of entertainment.
What helps with immersion?
A person can become immersed in written text.
Hardware to help – Omni/Virtuix, bigger monitors and better sound, using peripherals like Steel Battalion, or even the original Super Scope for the Super Nintendo (yes I had one, and no, there has never been anything cooler put out EVER).
Why do we seek it?
To lose oneself into the game is an amazing feeling. Whether you can get into the coveted “flow” state or just forget about the world for a while, immersion is one of the best reasons to play games.
I think that is because the modern world breeds ADD. I don’t mean that in a clinical sense, this isn’t the place to start an argument. But I am constantly checking my phone, my email, my twitter, then my emails, then my fantasy football league, and then my RSS feeds, and then my email…. etc. Even as I play games, I often have music or TV playing in the background. I sometimes find it difficult to focus on video games, the “apex predator” of sensory inputs. So when a game or experience comes along that offers me that sense of immersion, that sense of “holy cow! Did I really just spend two hours doing that?” I take note.