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Immersion in Gaming

Games guru and world traveler Allen Varney surveys the sad state of academic discussions of immersion in computer games for The Escapist in an article titled Immersion Unexplained. It comes with PDF references, which you may cheerfully investigate or ignore at your peril.

I'm always amused when the academic discussion turns to analysis of narrative and inner states, because they are so notoriously hard to pin down. But I think there's probably something to be said for a more rigorous analysis of flow in games. If I were in charge of that analysis, I'd take the biomechanical approach and measure which brain centers are active when reading and when playing various types of games, from poker to Civ. I suspect that different games depend on different processing centers: fighting games and racers would suggest motor skills, Civ and poker might activate more strategic or social skills.

Oh, and I'd want to hook some leet FPS gamers up to MRI scans, with their heads locked in place. To get accurate and scientific readings, of course. Whether anyone could achieve an immersive state while wired up to an MRI — who knows? Worth the experiment.

Comments

( 1 sutra — Your wisdom )
kistha
Aug. 10th, 2006 03:14 am (UTC)
I think the magnetics would seriously mess up the game console.

I'd go for it though - start looking for a grant, maybe you could get one from Microsoft and have a new career. Need a research assistant?
( 1 sutra — Your wisdom )

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