Of Immersion

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That Word


One of the things that I have come to realize over the last few days is that apparently immersion in a video game is not really that important to me.  What I mean by that is that sense of “losing yourself in a game” and for lack of better verbiage start thinking like your character.  This is one of those things that role players do amazingly well, and something that I have honestly always struggled with.  So what ends up happening when I play a pen and paper game for example… is that I ultimately always play a version of myself.  The same is true for MMOs that I create this “super me” where I change my features to match what I guess internally I consider the idealized version of myself.  I created the above imagine some time ago to illustrate that point, that essentially I keep creating the same character over and over… and the games that refuse to allow me to create that character…  I quickly lose interest in.  The reason why this has reared its head once more is the fact that I keep reading Division reviews that say the same thing.  There are a host of critics that find it jarring that they are having to fight people in essentially heavily armored hoodies.  There are so many that state that it “breaks their immersion” to fight something that takes so many bullets to make it fall over, even though they are not terribly well armored.  This is not the first time something like this has come up, and each time it makes me question… am I ever really immersed in a game?

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The thing is… I geek out about the lore and world-building that happens behind the scenes of the worlds that I am inhabiting.  I use the world inhabit because there are times I feel like I am wandering around through a realistic looking setting.  I remember the sheer awe I felt the first time I left Kaladim in Everquest and turned around to see just how massive the entrance really was.  I am a screenshot junkie and I am constantly snapping photos of the various vistas in the games I am playing.  I get thoroughly impressed when I am wandering a game like The Division that makes me feel like I am actually wandering Manhattan.  The thing is… there is never a point for me where I don’t realize I am playing a video game.  I’ve yet to really experience that transcendent moment that some folks talk about, where they blend into the story and get swept away as though it were really happening.  I mean a game can tug on my emotions, and make me feel all sorts of things…  but it is always a game, and I am always me experiencing it not some other character.  I got to thinking about the reason why this might be… and I finally landed on a possible answer.  When I am playing games… there is never a moment when I am not also doing something else.  If I am downstairs, the television is almost always on in the background, or I am carrying on a conversation with my wife at the same time.  If I am upstairs I am monitoring slack, discord or instant messenger conversations on my second monitor (or at least making an attempt at doing so) and while playing PS4 I am constantly waking my PC up when the screen goes to sleep so I can do the same.  Even back in the day when I would play a Nintendo or Super Nintendo game in my childhood bedroom… I would be listening to music or trying to jot down notes about where I found this or that.  I guess I have always been a habitual multi-tasker with one foot always in the next activity, or the one after that…  and because my mind is always thinking about other things and other possibilities it is very hard to get all that engaged in the one I am currently doing.  So when I play a game… I want a really awesome world with really fun game mechanics…  but a lot of the sticking points that seem to bother other people just simply don’t even register until I read it from someone else’s perspective.

Going Dark

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A good chunk of last night was spent doing Mythic Dungeons in World of Warcraft.  The normal Wednesday night raid group did not meet this week because we were down four or five people.  When I got home I popped into Discord and ultimately wound up logging in and tanking a couple of Mythic dungeons, something that for whatever reason I had never actually done.  Of note…  unless it is late in the evening there is never a time when I am going to turn tanking for a full guild group.  Now if we are having to pug people…  you are likely going to see me check out completely, but I really do enjoy tanking for friends and friends of friends.  After a couple of runs however I had my fill and ultimately logged from WoW for the evening.  I popped into The Division and did a cleaners mission that was super stressful and wound up with me rezzing at the check point a number of times.  The problem I have been having is that I am starting to feel severely under geared for my level, so after having watched so many dark zone videos where the loot seems to drop like candy, I decided to make my way over there even though I have heard so many times that “solo dark zone” is a bad idea.  Within a few minutes of wandering around, I was absolutely slaughtered by a rogue agent…  but the thing is it didn’t really bother me that much because I had yet to actually pick up anything decent.  Instead I opted to simply hunt right around the nearest Extraction point, where I noticed there were lots of people who seemed completely happy not to shoot me in the back.

I wandered around for a little bit and in that time managed to successfully extract a couple of loads of stuff.  A few of the items were blue upgrades… but the bulk was simply just stuff that I could sell and push me closer to my goal of a nice weapon available on the main base weapons vendor.  I had quite a bit of fun, and I can absolutely see how exploring this super dangerous area would be amazing with friends.  My schedule has been pretty damned wonky over the last few weeks so I am kinda hoping that I can connect with some of my other friends playing this game over the weekend and do some dark zone fun.  I realize that I am in an awkward level not being 30 yet, but I still think it could be a lot of fun to wander around out there and see what we can take down.  Last night I finally dinged 15, which again makes me so far behind the pack it isn’t even funny level wise.  Lately I had been pushing my way around the lower zones trying to finish them, when in truth I probably should just skip ahead to the 15ish areas and do whatever is available out there.  I poked my head into Flatiron and immediately started seeing greens that were massive upgrades over what I happened to be wearing, so I am guessing that is precisely what I should be doing.  The problem is… I have spent so much time wandering aimlessly that I have out leveled the areas I still have some quests in.  I figure I can always go at a later date and mop those up after I have hit the cap.