PGDI: Descriptions of the Immersion Components

In a previous post, I described the general categories of the Player-Game Descriptive Index (PGDI). In this post, I will be explaining the components in the immersion category: Embodiment, Emotion, Excitement, Instinct.

The Immersion Category

The Immersion Category

The immersion category houses components that deal with making the player feel or experience something in tandem with the game. It is this situation of shared experience, of transferred affect.

Embodiment
Embodiment
The embodiment component deals with the feeling of taking on another body in a game. More generally, embodiment is the feeling that players get when they are a part of the game. In most games, this is the player controlling a character, but can extend to any situated context. The more real the game feels to the player, the stronger the game’s embodiment component is. The same is true for games that allow the player to identify more strongly with characters and events. This component can be tied to the feeling of getting lost in a game, be it via story or gameplay. Players who like to bury into games will have a stronger embodiment component. If a player wants to feel like they are a part of the game, and buys into the illusion of accomplishing things in a game, that player will be strong in embodiment. Additionally, a player strong in embodiment will want to identify with the controlled entities and their situations.

Emotion
Emotion
As an immersion component, emotion wants the player to connect with the game more directly. In this case, the emotion component deals with the player sharing an emotional connection with the game. This is not as simple as the game showing emotion to the player, that player must feel the emotion. Common emotions in video games are anger, sadness and fiero, that feeling a person gets when accomplishing a difficult victory. Very often, a game will do this using story elements, but gameplay can also elicit a shared emotion. A game will be strong in emotion if it actively tries to get the player to feel something in tandem with the game. An important note is that this does not extend to fear. There are many games that make the player feel afraid, but this is a different kind of feeling than an emotional connection. These games may use fear in tandem with other emotions in order to create a more complex experience. A player strong in emotion wants games to provide them with that emotional connection. They want the game to make them feel something and want to go on an emotional ride.

Excitement
Excitement
The excitement component describes a mirrored sense the player gets when the game becomes more tense. It is a sense of thrill, like that of vertigo. This component is about getting the player’s heart rate up and making them feel like they are in danger. Fear resides here, and games that try to scare the player are strong in the excitement component. Additionally, any game that tries to simulate an extreme sport or activity, like skydiving or skiing, will have a stronger excitement component. Speed plays a part in this, as well. At the core of the excitement component is the feeling of a loss of control. It describes a physical response to losing control. Players who like thrill-seeking in games will have a stronger excitement component. Any player who plays to lose control or get lost in the game will probably have a stronger excitement score. This kind of escapism isn’t getting drawn down into the game, but getting carried away with the game.

Instinct
Instinct
The instinct component has to do with the player sharing movement with the game. This component relies on the player being able to connect more closely with actions in a game, to the point where the player feels that their movements outside of the game are the movements inside the game. The more intuitive the controls of a game are, the stronger its instinct component is. The player with a strong instinct component doesn’t want to think much about the controls. The actions in a game with a strong instinct component should feel automatic and the use of the actions should come from the gut, not the head. Players with a strong instinct component want to feel like they are an extension of the game, that they are controlling it and themselves at the same time.

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