Archive for the ‘Video Games’ Category

End of the Dragon Age

April 17, 2015

So, over this past weekend, I finished another game. I managed to get through Dragon Age: Origins, finally finishing it after two tries with my second character, a rogue/dualist city elf who was a bit bitter and selfish but who became a better person due to her love for Leiliana. Seriously, she had to act a lot better than she would have with Leiliana telling her to be nice a lot of the time, and since I wanted the relationship to come off I had to avoid doing things she didn’t like, and so generally acted nicer a lot of the time … although she could still be snarky at times.

For the ending, I decided not to go with Morrigan’s ritual, and so she left. I had arranged for Alastair to marry Anora, but then let him kill her father, so that killed that (no pun intended). So I let him sacrifice himself at the end instead of myself (she’s still a little selfish). I then left to travel with Leiliana for a while.

Coming back to this game after ME2 made me hate the combat more than I did before … and I was not fond of the combat. In DAO, the combat was often far too chaotic for my tastes and there was just too much of it. I waded in and hit things and often had no idea what I was hitting or if my abilities were kicking off at all, or even who I was hitting. Thus, I died a lot, and picked up injuries, and never had enough kits, until the end. Of course, I found out later that going back to camp fixed injuries, which might have helped at the end there.

The world was interesting, but it was often hard to figure out where all the quests were and how to get there, and it was too easy to miss things. I also hated how they tried to be edgy in parts, especially the blood splatters that you picked up in combat that stayed with you during interactions. It was just annoying. But, overall, I’m glad to have finished it.

Since I don’t own any of the sequels, that leaves a spot in my rotation, which I will fill with: Arcanum, which I just bought from Good Old Games.

Sarkeesian on Positive Female Characters

April 10, 2015

So, one of the things that I’ve been constantly pushing for from those criticizing the state of video games and particularly the portrayal of women in them are examples of good portrayals and games, for them to both talk up the games that do it right in their view and to outline what it is they want to see. Anita Sarkeesian has just done that, and hints that this is just the first video in an ongoing series on the topic. This is good. This is very good, in fact. I strongly support her doing this.

However, that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to criticize her choice, and here there seems to be a lot to, in fact, criticize.

Her first choice is the Scythian from the game “Sword & Sworcery”. As far as I can tell — and, as usual, I encourage you to read the transcript or watch the video yourself to see if you agree — the main reasons she thinks that this is a positive female character are:

1) The character is barely recognizable as a woman.

2) The character is barely recognizable as a character.

3) The character sacrifices herself at the end of the game (it’s part and parcel of the game mechanics).

Now, this summary is a little thin and not quite fair, because she does give reasons for each of those, which I’ll get into in a moment. But I want to take a step back and examine this outside of Sarkeesian’s general analysis, because her reasons do seem to follow from her own analysis and the requirements it entails. And stepping outside of things that she doesn’t like, my first blush reaction is to say that if a character is going to be a positive female character, it should be obvious from the start that the character is female. You shouldn’t be able to consider the character a male character for most of the game for it to make the list. The game could make the list if it subverts this properly — ie puts a female character in a male character role and deliberately doesn’t make it obvious that the character is female only to pull the rug out from under you at the end — but it’s hard to say that the character is a good representation of female characters if for most of the game the player thinks that they’re a male character, in my opinion. But I also think that to get the stamp of approval as a positive female character that they indeed have to be a character, and not just something that you impose your own traits on. When I originally did my list of top ten best female characters, my original comment on it was that I couldn’t do a similar list for male characters because they weren’t really characters, but were instead shells that you impose a personality on. I wouldn’t consider my create Baldur’s Gate characters great characters, or at least not in a way that I assign to the game itself, because all of that characterization comes from me, and not from the game itself. The Scythian has a bit more of a personality than that, but Sarkeesian is explicit that she is the blank slate that players project on, which means that she’s promoting the idea of a positive female character that is mainly what you want her to be.

So, what are Sarkeesian’s reasons? While she does make at least some of them explicit, I think we need to look at her overall assessment to really understand what she’s looking for:

When archetypal fantasy heroes in games are overwhelmingly portrayed as men, it reinforces the idea that men’s experiences are universal and that women’s experiences are gendered, that women should be able to empathize with male characters but that men needn’t be able to identify with women’s stories. Sword & Sworcery gives us a female protagonist and encourages us to see her as a hero first and foremost, one who also just happens to be a woman.

What I think she’s trying to do is get a female character into a traditionally male role without making the game about the main character being a woman. Essentially, the idea is to have the game work out in precisely the same way that it would with a male protagonist, except that it just happens to be a woman who is the lead instead of a man. When you tie this in with her own stated views, I think things become clear. The first point is to avoid “Ms. Male Character”, making the main character act just like a male character but adding some feminine fashion just to make it clear that the character is a woman. This is important, because the thrust here seems to minimize the impact the main character being a woman has on the game. The second point is to both facilitate it being no different than if the character was a man — and defining a character might well introduce differences — and to force players to “get inside the head”, as it were, of a female protagonist. The third point is to highlight that this is a woman with agency, and that her death is done due to her own choices and not just to service the plot of a male character.

The problem is that it seems to me that the way this was done impedes what she wants to see in a game. And to see that, we can look at my choice for a positive female protagonist, Miku Hinasaki from Fatal Frame. I explicitly reject what I think is Sarkeesian’s main push there: what makes Miku such a positive female protagonist is precisely because she isn’t just a female character stuffed into a male character’s shell/story, but that the game is different in ways that work better for a female character (for example, not relying on strength-based weaponry). Ultimately, we know from the start that Miku is a female character, and yet the game still doesn’t really play out any differently than it would with a male protagonist, highlighted by the fact that you start with Mafuyu and switch to Miku and the mechanics don’t change. If Sarkeesian wants players to empathize with women’s stories, then it has to be clear from the start that this story is a woman’s story, and ideally there would be things in it that are particular to it being a woman’s story, things that you wouldn’t get in a story from the perspective of a man. For example, while Sarkeesian might rightly see sexual assault threats in a game as being there for fanservice, the threat of sexual assault is something that women face and fear that men don’t (for the feminist argument for this, see “Shroedinger’s Rapist”). If a game can convey that threat from the perspective of the female main character such that even those who don’t face that normally can empathize and therefore feel and understand that fear, that seems to me to be the sort of thing that Sarkeesian wants: player empathizing with the woman’s perspective as women are expected to empathize with the man’s perspective normally. If all you do is stuff a woman into the precise same role as a man and nothing changes, all you’ve done is essentially put a female character into a man’s story, which does not seem to be what she’d want.

You can counter that the idea that the traditional heroic story is a man’s story is precisely the problem; women are just as heroic as men are. Which I concede, and is implied by my discussion of Fatal Frame and noting that the game doesn’t really change just because the main character is female. But to argue this, I think, undercuts a lot of the general criticisms of games that Sarkeesian makes, because it assumes that, in general, the stories in games are not tailored to a male audience and the male perspective, and that the only difference that matters is the gender of the character itself. In short, you have to argue that the games and characters themselves are mostly gender-neutral, and it’s only the gender of the main character that’s the issue. This would make most of her examinations pointless and explicitly refute about half of “Ms. Male Character”, so that’s probably not what you’d want to argue there.

So, if Sarkeesian wants female characters put into the same roles as male characters, it seems that she’d want them to be characters and to be readily identifiable as female characters from the start, so that players are forced to treat a female character in at least roughly the same way from the start. Also, if the game can indeed subtly shift the perspective somewhat so that players actually get to experience the perspective of a female character that’s definitely a bonus. Unless Sarkeesian wants to argue that the focus on the natural beauty of the world and not on combat and killing reflects that — which would be as much and as bad a sexist stereotype as the ones she criticizes — “Sword & Sworcery” doesn’t do that, which means that the Scythian does not seem to be a very good example of a positive female character.

Of course, Sarkeesian just be just overjoyed to have a female lead in this sort of epic, heroic tale at all. At which point, my only reply is that she seems to be easily impressed.

Mass Completion …

April 8, 2015

So, I did, in fact, manage to finish Mass Effect 2, this past Friday. I didn’t manage to get the romance with Chambers, probably because I had the romance with Liara from Mass Effect and never ended that one. But that wasn’t that important to me anyway, so I didn’t mind it.

The final battle, on Casual, wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. I had a harder time with the last loyalty missions and the IFF mission, mostly because my teammates weren’t all that great at covering me and I had issues with some of the enemies. In fact, I had a harder time with the lead-up missions than with the final battle, even though the final battle took me a long time because I was never sure how to target the final boss and so ended up taking some damage from it before hiding to recharge and then having it run away/fall down for a while. Finally I managed to hit it enough with the Collector gun to take it out.

I continued after the end, but couldn’t even really muster the effort to talk to my crew members. I certainly had no desire to keep exploring the galaxy, considering how boring that process generally was. I might have aimed to get the level 30 trophy, but again I was just too bored with the exploration part of the game to bother. This is in sharp contrast to the first game where I found the planet exploration to be more interesting than most of the missions. It’s a crime how badly they screwed that up in ME2.

Some of Thane’s personal stories were interesting, but for the most part I still liked Mordin and Miranda the best. I wish that Miranda would have talked more, since there were more aspects of her personality that I wanted to find out about. Overall, the other characters were somewhat interesting but not enough to keep pushing them after beating the game.

I don’t regret playing and beating this game, but I did like Mass Effect a lot better.

Mass Effect 3 will take its place in the rotation, which was an obvious choice. I’m also almost at the end of Dragon Age: Origins, and so it might be a bit more of a challenge to find a replacement for it once I finish it.

Thoughts on Mass Effect 2 …

April 3, 2015

So, I’ve recently been playing Mass Effect 2 as part of my regular rotation. I played and finished Mass Effect a while ago, and then started playing Mass Effect 2 for what was the second time (I started the PC version of it briefly on the recommendation of a friend and got through the first mission before dropping it). The second time was right after my play of ME1 with my ex-pat of Helena Cain, and comparing it to ME1 I found ME2 to be very, very lacking. I found the planet explorations missions with the vehicle probably as annoying as anyone, but they had a lot more charm to them compared to ME2’s “probe” missions, especially since probes and fuel cost you money that you may not have had early in the game, and so it actually discouraged planet exploration, whereas in the first game I explored every single planet. I also disliked the change from the heat mechanism back to a more standard ammo mechanism for your guns, because I am not particularly good at FPS-style gameplay and the heat mechanism made misses much less of an issue. So I played it for a bit, and got Mordin, Garrus and Kasumi, at least … and then stopped playing it.

This time, the most relevant comparable game was Dragon Age: Origins. ME2’s combat is slightly easier than Dragon Age’s because of the cover mechanism and the ability to fight more from a distance without needing to have an explicit tank, although I definitely died more in Mass Effect 2. But that’s mostly because ME2 is definitely more chaotically combat-oriented than Dragon Age is; all the missions are essentially a bunch of waves of combat, with lots of enemies and often less time in-between them. I think, anyway. So, given that, I found ME2 a bit more fun than Dragon Age was, although that might be because I had more recruitment missions to do, and recruitment missions are a little shorter than the areas in Dragon Age usually are, so you get a reward for your annoying combat faster, and so get a sense of accomplishment. Note that I always play the game on “Casual”, so you can laugh over my lack of ability if you want.

Planet exploration still isn’t a lot of fun. If you don’t find a mission on a planet, launching probes is boring, mechanical work that pays off and is something that you have to do. When you don’t have a lot of money and don’t have probe and fuel capacity, you have to be careful about how you mine to maximize your gains without driving yourself into bankruptcy (although, as it turns out, running out of fuel only takes away some of your resources, according to the handy tip that was displayed once) and when you have a lot of money it’s still boring as heck. There is little reason to explore the galaxy, and so I certainly won’t be exploring all the planets again like I did in the first game.

I like that some of the choices that you made in the first game carry over to the second and are mentioned. It does help make it seem like a continuing story. For my character, this includes the romance with Liara, even though in the second game she’s going after Chambers.

I wish that there were more general missions that aren’t loyalty missions, like the missions that you get in your personal messages. Those encouraged both exploration of other parts of the galaxy and picking up resources while you’re there. But I mostly ran out of them in the second act, and so was just ensuring all of the loyalty of my crew, which served the same purpose … but I wanted more.

One big issue with the game is indeed the missions. Most of the missions are disturbingly similar: go out and kill a lot of things and get a reward at the end. Since the combat isn’t particularly interesting, this gets very boring after a while. But when they tried to mix up the missions — Thane’s, for example, being a following mission — you ended up having to learn new mechanics that you’d never seen before too quickly, which got frustrating. So when they did the standard, you likely knew how to handle it but it was more of the same, but when they tried to do new things, you didn’t know how to handle it and so ended up restarting and reloading a lot if you wanted to finish it properly. It’s pretty much the story and the characters that made me keep playing this, and again fortunately the missions tended to be short.

I like the characters, although because of the link to the loyalty system I think I interact with them less. Most of them didn’t want to interact with me too much until I passed their loyalty mission, at which point at times they started talking to me, at which point I cared less about it with it being so close to the end of the game. I would have liked comments all through the game, but with the loyalty angle I can kinda see why they did that. Still, TOR did it better, but had more points along the way that could trigger things to make that work out.

My favourite characters are Mordin and, perhaps surprisingly, Miranda. I initially took her along on every mission as kinda a “You’re pushing this, so you have to see how it works” and then when I got Jack always brought the two of them along to annoy both — as I think Cain would do — which worked out nicely. And talking to Miranda does let you know more about her, and makes her out to be less of a shrew and someone who cares about someone, and you can even find out that that’s why she’s with Cerberus. But I think that her experience in Jack’s mission did shake that a bit, making the purported end of the game make more sense. Mordin is just a lot of fun to talk to pretty much all of the time, and I’m not even going to get the “Thane” comment that you saw in the SF Debris playthrough of the game.

Right now, all I have left to do is Jacob’s loyalty mission, the IFF, Legion’s loyalty mission, and the final battle. Since it is on a rotation, I’ll likely finish it in the next month or two, unless I swap Conception II out for a while and play it in its place. Hopefully, the final mission will not simply slaughter me and I can add this to the list of games that I’ve finished.

Tropes vs Women: Introduction

March 30, 2015

So, this post is an introduction to my finally, hopefully, going through all of the Tropes vs Women videos and commenting on them. There are a few reasons why I’m now deciding to try to push on doing this, but they mostly follow from the fact that Sarkeesian is not going to go away, which could be good or bad depending on what you think of her views. She’s being tapped for more and more things and might be more influential, and so we’re likely to be hearing from her for a long, long time to come. Which pushes me to comment on her videos because:

1) This is going to be an on-going debate, and we do have to have a debate on this. My putting this out is my contribution to that, even if few ever read it and even fewer care.

2) The main purpose of this blog is to get me to write down the things that I think about a lot so I can stop thinking about them. With Sarkeesian constantly coming up in video game discussions, I’m going to hear a lot about it, which will remind me of the things I didn’t care for in the analysis. At least this way I can say that I’ve already written about it and, hopefully, can then stop thinking about it or feeling bad because I haven’t talked about it yet.

So, in this post, let me outline my overall and general issues with the series:

1) The things that she says that are true are not new. They’ve been talked about for ages and ages in various places. Now sometimes you do have to repeat true things, and also sometimes someone can be lauded for putting those old ideas in new, interesting, and clearer ways. The issue is that Sarkeesian generally doesn’t; her approach is not particularly interesting and often seems muddled, particularly because …

2) … the things that she says that are new are almost certainly not true. She tosses in a lot of what are at best very controversial ideas in the same context as the old and true ideas, and tries to link them all together, which weakens the overall argument that her videos are trying to make. She also judges a lot of things on a rather shallow assessment, which means that as soon as I note the issues she has in interpreting Dragon Age: Origins I start to wonder about the other games as well, which again weakens the overall point of the videos.

3) It really seems to me that underneath all of the feminist theory and psychology and the like, that at the end of the day her argument boils down to “We need more female protagonists” … which is not a particularly interesting comment and goes against a lot of her recommendations and her criticisms of gaming companies and gaming in general.

But I hope to make this more clear when I post on her specific videos.

One thing that I need to address are claims that this will only increase the harassment of her as people use my charges that she’s, well, wrong about things to harass her for being wrong. That might happen (I personally doubt it, considering how small this blog is). But I still have to be able to criticize her views if I think them wrong, no matter how others might use that. We simply cannot say that a lot of people are jerks to her so no one can criticize her. That’s an artificial stifling of debate, and that’s not acceptable. We might just as well insist that she not talk about things that people will disagree with as say that people ought not disagree with her because of the potential for harassment. I will strive in my responses to be fair, charitable, and argue for my position with as strong arguments, reason and evidence as I can. That’s all anyone can expect from me, and that should be acceptable.

Short update on my first month of playing games …

March 9, 2015

So, I’ve gotten through my first month where I’ve reworked my schedule to fit game playing in. What I’m supposed to be doing is:

Weekday evenings: Board game, Sam & Max, Sims: Medieval, Star Wars: Empire at War
Weekends: Conception II, Dragon Age: Origins, Mass Effect 2, Planescape: Torment.

Now, with it being winter there often tends to be things that interfere with my playing in the evening, so I haven’t played any game for the full four days that I count as “weekdays”. This led me to conclude that playing a board game in the evenings was not going to work, because in order to feel confident that I could finish the game I have to play all four days, and almost immediately we had snow or something that I wasn’t able to. So I’m thinking of moving that to weekends in place of Torment, and moving Torment to weekdays.

Torment, however, is the game that had the worst luck out of all of the games, and was the only video game that I didn’t play. On the weekend, it ran up against a couple of hockey games that I really wanted to watch, and so didn’t get played. I then moved it to the board games’ spot on weekdays … and then had both weather and work pressures push it out. We’ll have to see how it does the next week.

Out of the rest, I played all of them at least once, and generally enjoyed them all. Sam & Max was the most fun: I blasted through the first episode in one long, two-hour session and then played another night for a good hour. But the others were fun as well, and so far none of them have grabbed me so much that I regret not playing them the next week. So this is kinda working.

I’ve also managed to get in a surprisingly large amount of The Old Republic in over the past few weeks. That’s not that likely to continue once spring comes and I start doing more things early in the morning on weekends, which is when I generally play.

But I’m playing video games again, which is pretty good.

It never fails …

February 23, 2015

So, I’ve decided to make a push on video games by setting up a set of eight games that I play in a round robin over a month. Four of them I play in the evenings and so have to be games that I can play for a half-hour to an hour and feel like I’ve accomplished something, while the other four are games that I play on the weekends when I have more time and so are games that are best played for long stretches.

This weekend, Planescape: Torment was up for my weekend game. But there ended up being some hockey games that I wanted to watch, and I can’t watch TV while playing that game, at least right now, so I ended up not playing it at all. This upcoming weekend, I’m supposed to play Conception II, which is a game that is ideal to play while watching TV, so much so that I’m not sure I can face playing it without having something to watch while playing. And this weekend … there’s no interesting hockey on TV.

Yep, never fails.

Interactive NPC World …

February 20, 2015

So, I’ve started playing a number of games in a round robin, which include Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age: Origins, and one thing that I thought of while playing Mass Effect 2 is the issue of NPCs in the world that you can interact with. Some of them will give you quests or items or other things, while some of them will just give you a little phrase or comment and then you can move on. The issue, of course, is that you usually don’t know which is which until you actually interact with them. Which means that if you want to get all of the quests and the like you have to interact with all of the NPCs, many if not most of which just say something and let you move on.

This can get very annoying if you have a lot of NPCs and the ratio of useful to colour NPCs is low. I’ve played games where I stopped interacting with NPCs because it was so annoying separating the NPC wheat from the chaff. But the flip side isn’t much better, as if you only create NPCs when they are useful the world can seem empty and unreal, only populated by quest-vending machines and the like. And filling it with people that you can’t interact with at all — like, say, most MMOs — reduces NPCs to background.

Which might, actually, be the best way to handle it. We don’t want players to have to obsessively interact with everyone, and we want populated places to seem populated, so making them non-interactive solves that, at the expense of, well, making them not seem like actual people. It’s nice to have NPCs that are people in at least some sense, but not good if we confuse them with NPCs that matter to the overall game plot and quests and so try to get them to interact with us outside of that. If you do go that route, you have to limit the number of NPCs or annoy the player by making them interact with all of them or else risk missing out on something interesting. And if there’s one thing that players hate, it’s missing out on something interesting.

Ultimately, though, this probably is a problem of balance, striking the right balance of NPCs that you can interact with in passive ways with the ones that open up interesting opportunities in the game world. It does enhance a game to be able to talk to NPCs and have them say things like jokes and give interesting tidbits about the world. It’s just that if you are getting that when you want to make sure that you’ve hit all the quests it will get annoying after a while if there are too many of those. We want to interact with people … but not all the time. Kinda like life, I think.

The Fridge (and Inadvertent) Brilliance of Save Points …

January 26, 2015

So, not long ago, I talked about how a crash when I hadn’t save caused me to stop playing a game. I’ve been thinking about this some more, and I’ve realized that most options for saving work against what a good game should be doing: engaging you in the game. Whether it be the story or the action or whatever, good games — like all forms of entertainment — should immerse you in the game so much that you forget that you’re playing a game. If you are that immersed, it’s unlikely that you’ll be thinking “I wonder how long it’s been since I last saved”. Doing that is usually a sign that you aren’t immersed in the game, or have been reminded that this is a game, often by seeing a long and tough fight coming up. You’re no longer swept along by the action or the story, but are instead thinking in game terms. Auto-saving avoids this, but has the problem that it yanks you out of the game and reminds you that this is just a game. The exceptions are games that did saving during loading screens, which already break immersion.

However, what is different about save points is that they are objects in the game world itself. Manipulating them is, in fact, manipulating an object in the world. Yes, it is an object that exists mainly to do game things, but it is part of the game world itself. Thus, it becomes an object just like any other object that is in the game, and so the impact it has on the game is generally no more than any other artificial game component that has to be there in order to play the game (using items, viewing an inventory, equipping, etc, etc). Because it’s part of the game world you can make saving simply a regular part of the game, something that you do as automatically as quaffing a potion when you’re low on health or reloading. So every time you come across a save point you just automatically save and go on, and it doesn’t take you out of the game at all, because it is an integral and constant part of it from your perspective.

This turns out to be the case for me in most of the console games I love. In “Lord of the Rings: The Third Age”, because save points also healed your HP and MP, I used to hit them every time I found one … and sometimes even backtracked to get the recharge. I was saving not to save, but essentially to rest. In Suikoden III, I so conditioned myself to save every time I came across a save point that when passing through the castle of the Zexen Knights I would save on both sides of the castle, even though all I did was pass through. I had to consciously stop myself from doing this. Because save points were spread out and often indicated that you were going to face something tough, it was generally easy to condition yourself to use them whenever you saw them, and thus make using them part of your regular practice of playing the game.

The problem with save points is, of course, that they aren’t always there when you need them, and so you can be using save points and still have to replay a lot of the game should you die or screw up. But by making saving part of the world and even trying to find in-game reasons for you to be accessing them, they remove the artificial nature of saving and so make the games more immersive. Not bad for something that consoles adopted due to technical considerations.

I Was Having Fun … Until It Crashed.

January 20, 2015

So, I started playing “X-Men: Madness in Murderworld” last night through an emulator, and was getting into it, and working my way through it, and then I went to change to Nightcrawler to teleport up to the previous floor … and the game crashed. Despite the fact that I was getting into the game — one of the reasons that I hadn’t saved, well, ever — I then pretty much immediately turned it all off, because I didn’t feel like redoing those parts and so didn’t feel like playing the game anymore.

The reason, it seems to me, is that the crash broke immersion. While I was playing the game, I was carried along from one room and one floor to the next, with the occasional fight, but was mostly exploring and having fun doing that. When the game crashed, I was yanked out of that immersion. And at that point, I could only remember the mechanics and that they weren’t that interesting, and might be hard to manage. And because I hadn’t saved, well, ever, I had a bit of a slog to get back to where I was, I just didn’t have the motivation to keep playing the game … even though I would have kept playing if it hadn’t happened.

This, I think, drives Shamus Young’s analysis of dying in survival horror games, or probably in most games. An atmospheric or action-oriented game will drag you along just by having you have to do something or having something else happen. You get immersed in the game and allow it to lead you to the next section … and the next, and the next, and so on and so forth. When you die, that breaks, and so you aren’t following the path anymore, and without some sort of compelling mystery or goal that you want to see resolved you may not have any reason to go back, at least not immediately. This is only made worse in games where you have strong penalties to overcome after death, like replaying a significant portion of the game or some kind of handicap or even just an onerous method for restoring a save: the more work it is, the more likely you are to simply stop when your immersion is no longer pushing you along.

I think this also works for Story Collapse. In those games, it is the story that moves you along and immerses you in the world, as opposed to the atmosphere or the action. When you hit the point where the story itself breaks your immersion, you are again pulled out of the immersion and returned to, well, playing a game. If the story collapse is minor, the rest of the underlying story elements give you the incentive to carry on; even with that minor problem, you still want to see what happens next. But if it’s strong enough, you find the story either confusing, uninteresting or just plain screwed, and so you lose interest in finding out what happens next. If there is nothing else driving your fun, you’ll quit.

Ultimately for any form of entertainment, people will only watch it if it is entertaining, which means that it immerses them enough for them to focus their attention on it and not on anything else. If you break immersion, then you stop being entertaining, and you have to leave enough reasons for people to think that they will still be entertained if they continue on. Sometimes, that doesn’t work, and the things I’ve talked about in this post are examples of that happening.


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