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Subject: Immersive Theme in Games rss

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Seth Brown
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Oddly enough, not yet another thread about Euro games vs. Ameri games.

No, it's the difference between what I demand from my video games, and what I demand from my board games. I find that even if a video game is mechanically a fairly typical turn-based RPG affair, I will pick it up and enjoy it if the theme is really good, and I can get into the story. And ideally, into the world as well, through a combination of the music and graphics and character plots and so forth.

I was talking with my girlfriend the other night about it, and she theorized my attraction to RPGs is because I demand an immersive theme from my video games, because I play them alone. Conversely, I demand less theme and more in the way of mechanics and interaction from my board games, because I play them to play with people.

Android has the best, most immersive theme of any board game I've ever played. If it were a video game, I'd love it. As a movie or novel, I'd love it. As a board game, I couldn't really immerse myself in the theme because I was too busy with the game part, and ended up trading it away. (Also, it takes too many people and hours for my girlfriend to want to play it much.)

I wonder: Is this true for most other gamers? Do you find that you want video games to draw you into a world, while board games are more social affairs that focus you on mechanics? Or do most people have the opposite inclinations (that is, to prefer your boardgaming heavier on immersive theme, and your videogaming to be more about interesting interactions)?

Anyway, I know I'm an RPG addict and mostly prefer Euro-style games to dice-heavy games, but was curious what other people felt.
 
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Paul Urfi
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I'm with ya Seth, but I'll throw in a third variant. I love immersive, solo video games that suck me in and I like fun, interactive board games that I can play with a group - each type has their own attraction. I also love board games that can be played solo. I love the subject matter of games like Arkham Horror and Descent, but I can't always find a group to play with. The time commitment for some of these games is a big factor too, so I may not always finish a game... sometimes it's just enough to get lost in the story for a little while.
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Mark Christopher
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In the wonderful game, Bonaparte at Marengo, this is how to get nasty Frenchies out of a village.
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Immersion is one of many reasons that wargames are my favorite type of board game.
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p55carroll
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For years I've said I prefer heavily themed games, but lately I've been wondering if it's true.

I do think of games as imaginary worlds that I can lose myself in for a while. In that sense, they're all immersive. Even an abstract game can be immersive if I'm totally absorbed in the problem solving and aesthetics and symbolism and all.

But I recently bought Runebound (Second Edition) and tried playing it solo. I thought it'd be a rich, imaginative world to escape into. Kind of a "holodeck" experience. Instead, I soon found myself bored. I was doing the same things over and over again, and it was obviously going to go on for a long time. I guess there was some kind of story there, but I stopped reading the card text after the first ten minutes.

As an old wargamer, I guess I expect to find some complex problem-solving challenges along with the immersive theme. When the strategic and tactical challenges are too few and far between, it doesn't even seem like a real game to me. But if those challenges are there, then I welcome a heavy, detailed, engaging theme (as long as the rules don't get overwhelmingly complicated).

Many video games I've seen or heard of seem more like movies than games, and I have no interest in that. RPGs often seem more like interactive storytelling sessions than games, and I have no interest in that either.

To me, a game has to first and foremost be good mental exercise. If it also has a cool theme, great.

And for me, people have nothing much to do with it. I'm just about as happy playing solo or against a computer AI as with others. If other people are involved, I'm more self-conscious and worry more; but I play just the same. So I can take or leave the social aspect of gaming.

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Peter Mumford
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Automobile!
This is probably not exactly what you had in mind, but I find Automobile deeply immersive. The combination of the retro drawing of cars, with the brutal push-your-luck nature of the game, and the many car selling gambits, provides a deeply immersive experience for me.

Perhaps it just depends if you want to be immersed into the supply and demand of early 20th Century car business, or a space opera.

[edit: as for video games, I have no idea. I want less computer time, not more]
 
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Ziegreich
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I'm one of those who claim to love immersive themes. The acid test for me is the language players end up using. If they say "I'll get another red", the game is not immersive. If they say "I'm buying a cow", the theme works.

I played Goa recently and loved it, but thoughts of spice trading seldom featured. Liberte is arguably not very realistic, but I play it and think in terms of political factions.

Now if I can find a game that is as good and as versatile as Goa (it even works for two players), plus it has the theme of Android...
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Jacob Fulwiler
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Theme is big with me. I find games like Agricola and Puerto Rico to be very boring because the theme doesn't interest me. However, when friends and I play Battlestar Galactica, you can almost feel the tension over the table.
 
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I'm actually the exact opposite. I find that board games that are theme heavy (arkham horror, android, wargames etc.) are much more immersive than video games. Also I find pen and paper rpg's much more immersive than video games. Anything that requires me to imagine a scenario in my mind is much more "real" to me. For example, think about why books are so much more engrossing than movies.
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Luke Morris
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I need some good theme and "feel" for a longer game. It doesn't need to be a theme I neccesarily LOVE, just one that feels right for the game.
For example, I'm not really into archaology but Thebes just feels wonderful - it wraps itself around me.
 
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Seth Brown
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Zaphod wrote:
I'm actually the exact opposite. I find that board games that are theme heavy (arkham horror, android, wargames etc.) are much more immersive than video games. Also I find pen and paper rpg's much more immersive than video games. Anything that requires me to imagine a scenario in my mind is much more "real" to me. For example, think about why books are so much more engrossing than movies.


This I can totally understand. I'm the same way with books. I used to be that way with pen and paper RPGs, but somehow the immersion of those wore off for me, while I still can fall into a world in a book.
 
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