Monday, February 8, 2010

On 'immersion.'

Many people complain because many games on the Wii don't let them 'forget they're playing a game' like what Mass Effect or Oblivion do. I recently played Oblivion. I got 'lost' in it. At times I forgot I was playing a game. I spent entire days lost in the immersive world that it provided.

I hate that game. I had fun, sure. I enjoyed it immensely. However, there was never any sense of accomplishment. I would play the game for more than five hours at a time and, while doing many things, I never felt as if I ever really accomplished anything. I got to a point where I simply fast-traveled to finish off the guild quests (I had already finished the main one) and then when I finished those, I just said I was done and left. I still have lots of things to do, I've barely started the Shivering Isles, but I was done. After over a hundred hours spanned over several months, I had finally had enough. And I have no intention of picking the game back up anytime soon.

Meanwhile, I've started playing Bejeweld Blitz on Facebook after my Mom convinced me to start playing. That game is fun. I was surprised since I was finally able to grab some semblance of accomplishment. Which is ironic, since the game is impossible to 'beat.' Reading up on Malstrom's opinions and doing some thinking on my own, I've realized what I think a game should be. After beating Oblivion, I started playing Castlevania on my Wii's virtual console. That game is really fun. Just a few days ago, I was playing level 15. I lost count of how many times I died, but it was well over fifty. When my brother (the hardcore gamer) came in and I told him this, he laughed. I believe his exact words were, “and you're still playing?” Yes, I was still playing. I kept playing (with breaks) until I passed that Medusa head-infested nightmare and sent the Grim Reaper back to the afterlife. I am currently in between attempts to defeat Dracula himself.

So why do I enjoy Bejeweled Blitz and the original Castlevania more than I do 'game of the year' Oblivion? Easy. They have that sense of accomplishment. What does that come from? A good old fashioned challenge. See, that's the thing. In Oblivion, once I got around level 21, the game stopped being hard. In fact, it stopped being hard around level 6 and 14, too. However, there was a spike in difficulty in level 10 and 20, which ended up being annoying more than anything else. See, the game was far too easy and far too long. There's no fun when I can easily kill anything in sight, when I can storm a cave/ruin/etc. and easily dispatch every creature/bandit/etc. inside.

Anyone else remember the days back when beating a game in six hours was an accomplishment, rather than a criticism? When games like Castlevania had you dying constantly? There was no 'immersion,' since dying kept you objective. Why are games that do that today (such as the ones on the Wii) now deemed 'casual'?

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