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What really is 'immersive' gameplay?
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What really is 'immersive' gameplay?
on 03 November 2020
Read more about the factors that go into creating an immersive title, and what we can learn from their lasting success among players

'Immersive' gameplay is a phrase that is touted frequently by critics, players, and developers hoping to snag our attention before something else comes along to steal it away.

The notion of ‘immersive gameplay’ is, in many ways, nebulous – it could be reserved for the most ‘enveloping’ gameplay styles, such as virtual reality, which literally shuts off the outside world and encloses us within an entirely new and alien environment. Conversely, it could mean those games which demand not only our attention, but our emotional investment – the titles to which we regularly return, suffering no loss of interest as the years pass.

So, how do we go about deciphering the true definition of ‘immersive’ gameplay – and is it even possible to reach an objective, universal understanding of the term? Read more below.

Titles that evoke genuine excitement

In many ways, we can interpret the notion of an immersive title to mean one which captivates more than just our attention. For a game to truly draw us out of the real world, and into the world in which it takes place, it needs to be able to evoke an emotional response from us. The experience of fear, excitement – or, of course, in the case of Ori and the Blind Forest, grief – are all indicative of a genuine involvement with – or immersion within – a game. Take, for example, online casinos like, where countless players log in each day to experience the same high-flying excitement once exclusive to physical casinos. These games would not be the success they are today if developers had not cracked the code to creating a genuine connection between the player and the evens on-screen.

Alternatively, consider the success of the horror genre in gaming – which arguably rivals that of the movie industry. Plenty of hardened gamers have.

Titles that withstand industry movements

While there is no singular quality any game can hold to ensure that it will go down in history, rather than simply existing within the mainstream for a few months, the continued success of a title or franchise is indicative of a truly immersive publication. Consider the incredible legacy made by Tetris which, although not hitting the best sellers every year, has been remade and remastered in countless iterations over the years. In spite of its simple mechanics, this humble puzzle game has been stealing countless hours from players across the globe for decades – almost half a century, in fact.

And while the industry has long since moved away from the dusty, dim arcades in which this game began, Tetris has managed to transcend the massive development (both in terms of gameplay, and creativity) to remain a firm favourite that spans entire generations.

While it may not be a vessel for cutting edge technology and development capabilities, there remain very few people who could pass up the opportunity for a game of Tetris.

Titles that we remember

Even if we could come up with a conclusive definition for ‘immersive’ gameplay, it would, in all likelihood, remain entirely subjective. Perhaps the most compelling justification behind a title being immersive is the impact it makes on our lives as gamers.

When asked about our favourite games, there will be a list of titles and franchises that spring to mind, and it will be different for all of us. These are, arguably, the titles that proved the most immersive – the ones that moved us, and with which we were able to form a lasting connection that other titles – however strong – could not replace.

Immersive gameplay is something all developers strive to create, and it can be found in countless forms across the globe – and over the decades.

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