A Look at Immersion in Online RPGs

Guest_Jim_* - December 6, 2012 12:33PM in Science & Technology

For any story medium, whether it be books, movies, or games, achieving immersion is important to the producers as that is when the consumer gets the greatest experience from the story. That is why so technology such as surround sound and 3D video has been developed; too make it so real people think it is. Researchers from the University of Gothenburg though have recently found that for video games, immersion may need more than technological gimmicks to achieve.

Over the course of ten months, the researchers followed World of Warcraft gamers and learned that the belief of actually being in the game world is both vulnerable and short-lived, in part due to the game mechanics. How can a defeated enemy return from the grave for you to kill again? How can players communicate across the world? What the researchers found is that the gamers must rely on their imagination and language skills to explain away these in-game inconsistencies, so players that lack the creativity to develop an explanation are unable to achieve immersion.

This conclusion contradicts the commonly held belief that the fantasy worlds of games are so enticing that gamers are unable to escape them. That may through into doubt future attempts to use online gaming for educational purposes.