There are two distinctive game experiences that I consider truely “immersive”, for whatever loose definition of that word I’m going with at the time: racing games, and highly narritive driven experiences. In totally different ways, they give me a sense of “immersion”.
Racing games, perhaps unlike any other experience (probably even any other simulation experience) do a better job than anything else of putting me there, in the moment. Especially the more sim style games. I don’t have a big setup with a seat and wheel and pedals and whatnot, so I’m not talking about iRacing or R-Factor etc here… but over all of my gaming years I reckon the time I’ve clocked in various flavours of Gran Turismo, Forza Motorsports, Formula 1, and even non-sim things like Wipeout would outweigh the combined time of everything else. I can just load up a car, a track, turn on practice / time trial / whatever that game calls it mode and drive laps for a while. I probably enjoy practice / time trial mode more than normal races. That experience, at least for me, definitely would count as “immersive”.
Well written narrative experiences also count for me as “immersive” but in a different way. The driving games I just mentioned do so via the thrill of placing me there, on the track, in the moment. A well crafted narrative reaches “immersion” for me by pulling me in to the story. I find myself thinking about the edges of what has been described, filling in the blanks and mentally exploring the (probably deliberate) gaps. I’m “immersed” but not in a seat-of-the-pants moment way, but rather in the same way I can lose a few hours to a book without realising it. Often times, clunky attempts at wedging gameplay amongst the story being told actively works against this!
esper What is “immersion” in video games?
I’m not sure I can provide a good answer to this other than perhaps “a style or method of presentation or gameplay that, one way or another, works to help you forget you are playing a game to some degree, and rather aids you in just having an experience”.
The pithy answer is “any underwater level”, zing.