Awhile back, Mark (lokivt) commented that some players have said they have felt immersed in a game, believing they were “really there”.

Of course, we’ve all become engrossed in some form of entertainnment at one time or another. We get caught up in something and the hours pass unnoticed.

That happened to me with The 7th Guest. It was the first CD game I played, and I was looking forward to it since I enjoy puzzle games.

This was just to take a look, since another game was scheduled for review. So I brought it up for a quick peek in the early afternoon, say 1:30 or so. Next thing I knew, it was tea time. Tea time is 7:30.

So I was certainly drawn into the game. However, not once did I believe I was “there in the haunted house”. It was solving the puzzles and putting together the story that kept me going.

Perhaps the closest I’ve felt to immersion was in the early text adventure games such as Zork and Enchanter. One reason is that were text adventures, and so I created the environment in my own mind. The descriptions conjured up mental images that were unique to me.

Another factor was the absence of any background. Those games were not about Tex Murphy or Nancy Drew or Gabriel Knight. That was me, personally, running around the Great Underground Empire.

Adventure games these days often have preconceived characters around whom the story is built, such as in Scratches. Even with good graphics and 3D view, we’re always aware of manipulating someone else. It isn’t us doing all that in the game.

This true to some extent in role-playing games, as well. The characters we create are alternate personas. They may have – or we imagine they have – some facet of “us” in them, but they are fantasy creations nonetheless.

There may be some gamers who identify so closely with their characters that they feel “really there”. Or is it just what they think afterwards when reviewing the experience?

What do we mean by “immersion” anyway? Is it being caught up in a game, as I was with The 7th Guest? Or is it such a suspension of disbelief that the make-believe becomes, at least momentarily, real? What do you think?miniscorp