GTA Ideas Pages
Which computer games are immersive? Does it depend on who plays them? Does it depend on the game making you conscious of being immersed in it? One key feature is sound; without a good background sound you can't really "be there"; a soundtrack will never do. Perhaps that is why games aren't as immersive as they used to be?
Impossible Mission - when the acrobat fell in a hole, letting out a scream, a shock would go through me.
Fahrenheit 451 - the sewer grate grating on the asphalt when I moved it, the dark futuristic athmosphere.
Descent - the freedom to move effortlessly, the aggressive (to the ears as well) sounds of the enemy robot as it springs forth from a crevice, taking you by surprise.
pod - the drive dynamics, the sounds of the engines, of the cars landing like a sack of nuts after a jump; most tracks show being set in a larger world, making them more real.
Grand Theft Auto? The soundtrack was cleverly hidden as car radio, but I think in the end, it pushes itself on your mind and tells you: it's only a game. The trick of having the sound dim when moving under a bridge reinforces the notion of looking 'at' the scene from above, not being 'in' it. GTA shows me a believable world, but I'm just not 'in' it.
If you want more thought food on what exactly you are immersed in, I suggest you take a look at this Telepolis article of May 1998 where the thrill of modern computer games is compared with the effect Labyrinths always had on humans.
Playing in Labyrinths
Norman M. Klein: "What is the sensation that 'labyrinth' identifies: To be cheerfully disoriented inside the maze. I say cheerfully, because the confusion is intended by the designer."
original English text German translation
GTA Ideas Pages
by Michael Mendelsohn