Thursday, December 02, 2010

Rambling - Falcon Fidelity Runs Magically

Purple Pirate Broad
-by appledust
Immersion seems to have become the reason I play games.  Regardless of genre, game type, medium, or any other factor, it has become apparent to me that I play games in such a fashion as to acknowledge that they are actually games as little as is psychologically possible.

This is not to say that I play them to the utmost realistic way possible, in that my characters never do anything that is silly, unrealistically foolish, or the like.  For example I do not walk 100% of the time when playing WoW, my D&D characters can be quite silly (in particular Sir Walter O'Reilly; self-identified royal obsessed with developing his O'Reilly Coil to rival and surpass that of Nikola Tesla), and I may often spend inordinate amounts of time doing ridiculous or repetitive things that have nothing to do with what I should actually be doing simply because of game mechanics (cheevo requirements, anyone?).  No, I still indeed do many things that are only done in games, and in fact may often only be done because the act in question takes place in a game.

Rather, when I speak of immersion I speak of the absence of this realm dubbed "Reality" (and, when I say reality, I use it in the sense one would use the proper name given a campaign setting, like Dragonlance or Warcraft, not in the sense that this place is real and other places are not).  This place in which we live must melt away for me to truly enjoy a game.  My senses visual and audio must become so highly tuned to the game I am playing that nothing short of a taser could possibly intrude, and my senses of touch and smell and taste must be set aside so my brain might better process the use of the former two.  It does not always happen, but when it does is when I am able to experience some of the most profound things one might imagine.

I remember the run up the Citadel Spire, Sovereign's massive arms visible and growing larger as I neared the apex of that deadly run; my Commander Shepard firing one precision burst of assault rifle fire after another in her desperate bid to save every life in the galaxy.  I remember a battle of the young wildmage Aerial Teshlin against the only opponent who ever defeated her; both magi going at each other with staves after having expended every spell at their disposal.  I remember defeating the traitor Admiral Zaarin; screaming through the empty black of space in the pinnacle of SFS brilliance, reducing enemies who threatened my Emperor to ash with horrific storms of green blaster fire.  I remember these things with such clarity, precision, and vibrancy that they are to me as the memories of my life in this world.  They hold weight, in my memory, equal in proportion to any significant event in my life that took place in Reality.

To some, this may sound preposterous, stupid, foolish, or even dangerous.  I care not about those folk.

Just where this love for immersion stems from--this need to make my games supplant Reality while I play them--I do not know.  I can speculate, but like anyone interested in self reflection I do not actually know where my problems and advantages truly come from.  I do know that I consider these memories to be just as valid as any memories I have of this place called Reality, to which most people give far too much importance. My view of existence stems to the limits of the omniverse (beyond even that adorable little multiverse some people talk about), and it is within this utterly limitless potential that I know, both within my feely place and in my logic place, that nothing can be imagined that does not exist.  Which means, to me at least, that anything we can imagine does exist somewhere out there.  To that extent; Lieutenant Commander Samantha Shepard really made that run, Aerial Teshlin really fought that duel, and pilot Maarek Steele really flew in that battle.

I think that is where a large part of my focus on gaming immersion comes from.  Being that I believe these things truly do exist somewhere in existence, in a way I feel that I am watching the amazing adventures of other people and doing my part to help them as best I can.  This ties in, at least partly, with my distaste for this rather drab and uninteresting world in which I find myself.  With such world view, the amazing adventures of game characters become so much more interesting than this place of petty, insignificant, pointless little nothings.  As Smith said; it is inevitable.

It began, I believe, when I first encountered the game TIE Fighter.  The memory is still strong in my mind, if not perfectly clear.  I was at Computerland, the place my stepfather worked.  He was there late one night, and for some reason I don't remember I was there with him.  To keep me occupied--I was a teenager at the time, after all--he fired up TIE Fighter.  At the time a new game, with its fancy gouraud shading, TIE Fighter enveloped me almost immediately.  That night, in particular, I flew a simple station patrol mission and was tasked with inspecting freighters going to and from the area.  I remember, being that I was an impatient child not yet in control of my violent streak, I simply began to open fire on many things.  In particular, I immediately opened fire on a YT-1300 that was in the vicinity.  It was not the Millennium Falcon, but it felt the same as opening fire on that legendary bird herself, and we joked at the time about Chewbacca angrily bashing away at the mechanics of the ship while I fired at it, trying to get the damn thing to enter hypserspace already.

That moment, I believe, is when it began for me.  Because I remember, I almost physically remember, the rest of the office darkening until all I could see was the monitor.  All sound faded until I could hear only the blast of my TIE Fighter's cannons, the soothing hum of its engines, and the laughter as I chased after that poor helpless freighter.  Years later, when discussing existential concepts with the only man I've ever loved and called my ally, we came to the conclusion that there are infinite realities and that whatever we can imagine is real somewhere out there, and I realized that things I experience in games are in that way somehow as real as the world around me.  Even later in my life, when I discovered the concept of the omniverse, everything I had already thought about just clicked right into place.  My obsession with immersion was solidified.