One day when Jessica was driving during the holidays she heard a show on NPR discussing how Americans play virtual reality games. It was reported that almost 70% of our fellow citizens play every day.
We were both shocked by the number.
United States Census Bureau (great source of information) states that as of July 1, 2018 the population estimate is 327,167,434 people. So according to the NPR report, the amount of the US population that play “video games” daily would be approximately 229 million people (who are gaming and not reading, by the way).
Now back to Jessica…
The people calling into the show to join the discussion were game developers, writers, and gamers. And the term ‘immersive’ kept coming up in the conversation, as in players felt like they were living amid the game universe that they were gaming in. One could experience Mars (Doom), The Old West (Red Dead Redemption). A World War II battlefield (Call of Duty), Sword & Sorcery (Witcher), automobile racing (Forza Horizon), Ancient Nordic/ Norse Times (Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice), and other imaginary worlds.
In a distracting world, your stories need to feel similarly immersive. Your story settings must be nuanced, intricate, and alive with significant details, intriguing characters, and most of all, trouble. Bad trouble. Soul-sucking problems that need solving. In fact, a large portion of games is about survival, the rawer and scarier the better.
Think about it: millions of people are spending millions of hours in other permeable realities.
Readers also want to feel as if they’re part of a world as if they’re navigating layers of complexity as they interact via viewpoint characters.
So we thought it would advantageous to do a little research about how game developers create the “immersive experience.” This article, of course, just scratches the surface, but it is a starting point.
Point of View Guidelines Apply to Video Games Also and Help to Create What is Known as “Gameplay.”
According to Altug Isigan’s classic article Three Types of Point-of-View in Video Games, there are: (Isigan goes into more detail in his post. We will have a link to it at the end of these excerpts.)
Perceptual Point of View (what our mind’s eye sees, thinks, hears, and desires equates to feeling) = First Person
“The efforts of the designer and artist (think – you the writer) in the visual constrution of this rendering must achieve that we think of this image as if it were the moment-to-moment perceptions of a perceiver. This is in particular important if the designers and artists (writers) want us to assume this perceptual construct as our own view.”
Ideological Point of View (World or Ideological View)
“The second definition of POV takes seeing rather in the metaphorical sense and implies not only a view, but a worldview.Hence the term ideological. Here, a second lense is applied to the lense that sees: thoughts, beliefs, and feelings. What we call point-of-view has gained another dimension and is no longer only the perceived sense-data… Not only are we presented a view of, but also a view on the event that is presented. It’s not only perception anymore, but also cognition; not mere sight, but vision.”
Point-of-View of Interest (when our actual interests conflict with what we believe our interests are or should be).
“In other words, we may not be aware of our actual interests, or blinded by our beliefs to a degree at which we can’t perceive them thorougly. Interest, is therefore not about perception or ideology, but rather about an awareness in regard to the consequences of events.”
“This can create interesting situations. For example a character may be aware of the negative consequences of a particular choice, but he may still chose to face that consequence due to his beliefs (ideology) as is the case in situations that involve sacrifice. Or sometimes a character may find himself in a dilemma: He may not be able to decide whether to follow his belief or his interests.”
For more information and to read the complete article by Insigan, click here to visit The Ludosphere where the article was published.
His conclusion states, “…An interesting point to consider here is that what we usually call “the gameplay” has a lot to do with these intertwinings of different POV-types. It could be a good idea to make use of these concepts in order to refine our notion of gameplay, and also realize how close it is related to storytelling methods. I believe that an awareness of the existence of various POV-types can only improve a narrative designer’s ability to create compelling and immersive gameplay experiences.” (Altug Isigan)
So how do you coax readers to have similar experiences?
By placing them in the action, with a stake in shaping outcomes. By creating circumstances that require decision-making and problem-solving as characters tackle moral dilemmas and a stacked deck. By setting up difficult-to-obtain outcomes. By tossing in bad luck, screw-ups, and sometimes poor judgment. By making the outcome really matter to characters we come to understand and care about.
This means writers build a fictional world detail by detail, from a complex social matrix to a government and history. Harry Potter’s wizarding world is a good example as is George R. R. Martin’s The Known World from his A Song of Ice and Fire series.
Maybe your story world is a ravaged, lawless hellhole. Intriguing concept, but readers need to understand how the lawlessness came about. This means you’ll be establishing the ‘rules’ for your universe. And keep the pressure coming by creating a breathing, weather-plagued, climate-influenced place. Well, I guess that weather could be balmy and calm, but what’s the fun in that?
Keep writing, keep dreaming, have heart. – Jessica
Chanticleer Editorial Services Writer’s Toolbox Series
Jessica is focusing on immersive writing throughout this year, so keep checking back here for more information and writing tips and tools for your writer’s toolbox and consider registering for her Master Class at CAC19 and Summer Workshops with Chanticleer.
Jessica Morrell is a top-tier developmental editor and a contributor to Writer’s Digest magazine, and she teaches Master Writing Craft Classes at the Chanticleer Authors Conference that is held annually along with teaching at Chanticleer writing workshops.
Jessica will teach a Master Class and advanced writing craft sessions at CAC19
Jessica understands both sides of the editorial desk–as a highly-sought after content development editor and an author. Her work also appears in multiple anthologies and The Writer and Writer’s Digest magazines. She is known for explaining the hows and whys of what makes for excellent writing and for sharing very clear examples that examines the technical aspects of writing that emphases layering and subtext. Her books on writing craft are considered “a must have” for any serious writer’s toolkit. For links for her writing craft books, please click on here.
Chanticleer Reviews and OnWord Talks will interview Jessica for more of her writing tips and advice. Stay tuned! ~ Chanticleer (who hails from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales).
Please contact Sharon or Kiffer if you would like more information about Chanticleer’s Editorial Services at KBrown@ChantiReviews.com or SAnderson@ChantiReviews.com.