This post is my day 2 contribution to the 2015 Blaugust Initiative.
When I was writing yesterday’s post about how silliness annoys me in serious games, I was careful to disclaim breaking immersion as a reason for my annoyance. But as a new blogger, I boldly read the comments section, and against all probability, I was actually convinced to change my opinion.
Talarian explained in his comment:
In a world that potentially takes itself too seriously, it can be fun to step out of that and do something zany or wear something that sticks out to really set yourself apart from the setting. After all, at the end of the day you’re still playing a game, something that’s ostensibly supposed to be fun.
My immediate thought was, “But how can that be fun when it snaps me out of the frame of mind I had so carefully worked myself into in order to enjoy the game?” I believe at that very moment, a chorus of people roleplaying tiny angels must have sung a triumphant, resonant chord somewhere.
I really am immersing myself in these games. I’m making a real effort to believe in the worlds, characters, and stories the studio’s artists put in front of me. It’s important to me for these things to be consistent and harmonious. When they’re not, it’s just as jarring to me as when someone interrupts me in the middle of reading a good book.
Does this mean I’m a roleplayer? In the sense that we use this label to segregate (and self-segregate) ourselves into cliques, I don’t believe I am a roleplayer. Roleplayers are often rewarded with their very own designated servers, with special rules to protect their delicate sensibilities and their fragile little egos. (Note: I am an instigator, and that last sentence had better instigate something.) I actively avoid these servers, except for infrequent social occasions. I have more nonsense than sensibility in my blood, and my ego is rock solid.
But I can’t deny that when I sit down in front of a game, I’m playing a role. That role is “the player.” Just like when I pick up a book, I become “the reader.” Or “the viewer” when I watch a movie. It’s every artist’s goal to engage the audience, and hopefully minimize distractions in the presentation of the art.
Libraries provide a quiet environment for reading. Theaters provide a dark environment for viewing. Galleries provide an uncluttered environment for spectating. I think game studios should provide harmonious worlds for playing.
When studios don’t properly curate their artists’ work with harmonious game worlds, and instead intentionally build outrageous things into their games, it’s as distracting to me as a library that hands out air-horns to its patrons at the door.
What do you think? Would air-horns make libraries more fun? Did my mean words melt your special little roleplayer snowflake heart? Fight back in the comments!