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Why First-Person Shooters Don't Feel Immersive

Jan 8 2014, 3:11pm CST | by

Why First-Person Shooters Don't Feel Immersive

Photo Credit: Forbes

When I walk around in the world, I see things from a “first-person” perspective. Inside, looking out.

This is what first-person shooters (and other first-person games) are attempting to emulate: That feeling of actually being in the world, immersed in a digital reality.

And it never works. There’s something missing.

When I walk around in the world, I see things much differently than I do in, say, Killzone: Mercenary. If I’m wearing glasses, I can see their outline. The hint of my nose hovers in the center. A strand of hair maybe. I have all this stuff going on in the peripherals that’s largely just a blur. Even when I’m not looking down, I can often see my hands, or arms, or other bits and pieces of myself as I move about.

No first-person game that I’ve ever played captures all these little details that we carry around with us. There is a flat surface in front of us, the occasional hand, often the gun we’re holding. Little else. Peripheral vision is rarely an element of a first-person game. The clarity in the image’s center rarely differs from its edges.

Other problems: In a game, turning means turning your entire body. But in real life we constantly turn just our heads. We look left and right before we cross the street; we don’t turn our entire bodies left and then right. And when I turn my head to the left, I see my left shoulder.

Maybe the rise of the virtual reality headset will set to remedying this, or at least aspects of this (if VR goes mainstream, of course.)

But for now it still feels uncanny. Disjointed. I feel as though I’m behind some artificial veil. Or having an out-of-body experience. Far from a feeling of increased immersion, a first-person shooter always makes me feel less human entirely, like a pair of hovering eyes.

Or, rather, a pair of hovering eyes, two hands, and a big gun.

Follow me on Twitter or FacebookRead my Forbes blog here.

Source: Forbes

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