When we talk about games, the word "immersion" gets tossed around a lot. It's generally held to be a good thing: If a game has amazing graphics and audio, and a convincingly built world, we will become immersed in it to the point that it feels real.
But is it the right word? Is it actually something for which video games should strive? Does the word have meaning at all?
In this cool video essay, game academic/critic/Critical Distance maestro Ben Abraham takes a look at the word and the concept and draws some interesting conclusion. Attention, he argues, is a more useful term than immersion when talking about games that command us sensorially. Vitally, games require attention at some times but not at others, and the best games that are thought of as "immersive" (including Far Cry 2 and Crysis) give players space to find their bearings so that they're not overwhelmed when it comes time to pay attention.
The video's also got some some thoughts on Starcraft 2, the awesome theatrical production Sleep no More, Enter the Void, Uncharted developer Richard Lemarchand's by-all-accounts brilliant GDC talk, and books. Yeah! Just like, regular books. That you read.
Attention and Immersion [Ben Abraham Dot Net]