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Immersion in Pokemon

Discussion in 'Orange Islands' started by chaostothemax, Mar 23, 2014.

  1. chaostothemax


    Nov 4, 2013
    Hello, everybody! This thread is to talk about a topic that I feel is very central to the Pokemon Games, but is never really talked about: Immersion.

    The point of any game, really, is to immerse yourself in it. With epic games like Skyrim, it's quite easy to lose yourself in the game; I can't tell you how many times I sat down to play, and looked up to realize 3 hours had passed. Handheld games are harder to lose yourself in, due to smaller screens and worse graphics. As far as handhelds go, though, I feel like Pokemon does a good job of it.

    The most immersed I ever felt was with 5th gen. Black and White had a fantastic story on it's own; when you added Black and White 2 on top of that, I found myself completely sucked in to the storyline. The somewhat-generational tale of children growing up, becoming masters, and teaching their trade to the next group that comes along completely suckered me in.

    What about you guys? Which game in the series did you feel the most involved in? The least? Was there anything in particular that you felt immersed you in the game?

  2. Sakuretsu


    Jun 16, 2012
    Hmm... Immersion in a Pokemon game...

    That's a bit of an oxymoron, isn't it?

    You've activated my trap card, Wall of Text!

    Jokes aside, I really got into Colosseum and Gale of Darkness. They both had a story that was much more mature than any other game of the series at the time (keep in mind both these were before DP). They were also rather gritty and, well, not so much grim... I'd say somber. Somewhat depressing and earthly. The stories of both (well, mostly Colosseum) were akin to that of believable tales (besides the fact that they're about monsters that can destroy the world over and at the same time we have complete control of them; not to mention the GoD protagonist is a child).

    The main theme of both games (once again, mainly the first) was, I'd have to say, fighting "evil" with "evil" - or put another way, using questionable means to protect the world. In this case stealing Pokemon from other trainers. Both protagonists weren't necessarily stealing Pokemon (could be substituted for money, etc.) for personal gain, but rather for a greater good. Sort of like an antihero, doing something questionable for something greater - which the protagonist of Colosseum most certainly was, given his background (please don't dig deeper than that, and claim he was undercover or something - it's been years since I've played either).

    I'm starting to forget what I was originally trying to get at; but down to it, both Colosseum and Gale of Darkness did much more than give you an unbelievable story, akin to a myth or fable, that is typical of the Pokemon franchise. They presented you with a story focusing on a rather heavy moral dilemma (though I forget the main events in both games) and, more importantly, a rich and mildly fleshed-out background of the protagonist you play - much better than: "I just moved to this new region, and am 10 years old, but I'm going off to enslave creatures that could easily kill me so that I may engage in combat with others doing the same thing, etc." You wanted to do much more (well, I did) than just play the game and raise your Pokemon... that you stole - you wanted to see yourself triumph against a world where there exists little law and morals (not counting the citizens of Phenac City, Agate Village, etc. - holy Arceus, I remembered those places) and ensure the innocents did, too. Well, there's also the evil organization to deal with, but that coincides with the above.

    Black and White (never played BW2, besides a partial playthrough of W2 in German) never got close to this kind of immersion, even though the theme is similar. I can't argue that the way the story is presented doesn't have an impact on immersion - good writing and graphics are the key factors here, with game play right behind. There's only so much that 8-bit pixels (lol) can do to immerse the player. Perhaps in the distant future, when all major Pokemon games are remade and played in glorious 3D and lifelike graphics, that they'll beat Colosseum and Gale of Darkness in terms of immersion.

  3. noobcubed


    Jun 9, 2013
    There's far more than visuals that can be used to immerse a player - in general, it is detail that immerses. The more detail there is in a world, the more believable it is. Visual detail is just one aspect, and high-resolution graphics are only a subset of visuals.

    Pokemon never really had cutting-edge graphics (perhaps for a handheld series it did), nor, for the main series at least, much of a story. (Outspoken opinion here, but BW's story isn't all that. I found myself mashing the A button during cutscenes without reading the text. Sharpen your pitchforks if you want.) But it did have detail in the designs of the Pokemon. The fact that Smogon's CAP process has eighteen stages (I think, not entirely sure) says it all, but for the record:

    Battle Characteristics:

    Forme changes/Mega evolution

    In-Game Characteristics:

    Level-up moves
    Catch rate
    Experience yield
    EV yield
    Egg group

    Flavour Characteristics:

    Inspiration (ie, what real-world/mythical thing is the Pokemon based on)
    Visual design (including shiny form, may have gender differences)
    Pokedex entries
    Depictions in other Pokemon media

    That is a lot of detail to apply to each and every of 718 Pokemon, especially as many of these characteristics are tweaked in individual Pokemon from generation to generation. And this is without the detail of the world itself. I'm sure a lot of people here have come across a few NPCs from the series whose solitary line just made the world they inhabited that little bit richer.
  4. Ignoth


    Sep 15, 2013
    I'm on the same boat for Gen V. While X/Y had excellent features like 3d models and Pokemon-amie to bring your team to life, B/W is the only main series game to get me decently invested by the merit of it's storytelling alone. It's story was unusually tight and its characters were fairly compelling. (For a main series Pokemon game that is).

    For LEAST immersed... well this will be a controversial opinion. But I have to say Gen II.

    I include HG/SS when I say this. The main thing HG/SS improved upon gameplay-wise was G/S/C's awful level curve, but that's not the main problem I have with it immersion-wise. No, the problem is its absence of a decent ongoing story.

    To start, Team Rocket is a mere shadow of it's former self in Gen II. They don't even have a proper leader anymore. They lack any sort of threatening presence in the story outside of serving as the obligatory villain group. After you thwart their feeble schemes, you face the elite four and defeat the Champion...

    ... and then the second half of the game begins. THIS is the point where I lose any sense of immersion. Storywise, I have already finished the game, I stopped the villains and beat the champion. Yet the game is STILL going on. There is no ingame reason or motivation for me to battle the Kanto Leaders. There are no threats, no stakes, and no story as I'm strolling around aimlessly in the second half of the game. I'm only doing so because I, the person playing the game in real life, want to and I know that I need to do it to battle Red. That kills my immersion when I'm completely aware that I'm playing a game and plowing through its content. That's the main problem, Gen II has a LOT of content, but not a whole lot of string connecting the content together. As epic as its finale is, it's the only gen where I get genuinely bored halfway through.

    For the record though, I don't hate Gen II :p. It's a great game, but I feel that it has both some of the best "pros" and some of the worst "cons" in the main series pokemon games. Strong parts, but a relatively weaker whole.
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2014
    Karxrida and Codraroll like this.
  5. noobcubed


    Jun 9, 2013
    Single least immersive moment in any of the games: "We're dancing for no reason. Some day we'll stop dancing for no reason." That is the moment at which GameFreak finally ran out of ways to railroad you into following the plot and resorted to self-referential humour, which invariably kills immersion. (Not that I have a problem with self-referential humour, but it has to be established as a universe in which the characters are self-aware, which is clearly not the case.)
    Karxrida, chaostothemax and DHR-107 like this.
  6. DHR-107

    DHR-107 Robot from the Future
    is a Forum Moderatoris a Community Contributoris a Live Chat Contributoris a Pokemon Researcheris a Smogon Media Contributor
    Orange Islands

    Dec 26, 2008
    Oh man... When I found these guys... I literally had to put my DS down and walk away for a bit. It aggravated me so much lol.

    In terms of immersion, I think Pokemon in and on itself is an odd one. I think we have all gotten immersed into the world as a whole as opposed to any particular game. Like we could could all see ourselves as trainers rising up the ranks, travelling like in the anime etc beating gyms, being breeders/doctors/professionals in that world. In terms of the games, I don't really feel that immersed in any of them because the majority of the plots are utter bullshit. Hoenn is a prime case "We want more land/more water" -> "oh god what have I done?!?!?!?" with a giant heel face turn its really awkward. Not to mention the ten year old controlling gods of the planet with little cause for worry. In my eyes, all of the main game protagonists are older than the standard "10". I know BW2's were more 15/16 but that's how I view ALL of the major protags/friends. The main character from Gale Of Darkness is the main exception because he IS so small compared to everyone else, so I could see him being younger.

    In terms of believable locales, I really like Johto because its "the most basic". As in, theres some forests, mountains and an ocean. It's not too overdone in terms of its geography. Some of the other areas are. That breaks immersion for me but I try and cover it with imagining each route like the Anime where you are travelling for a few days and stuff.
  7. -NLMRY-


    Dec 20, 2008
    In my opinion having a story driven adventure kills immersion. Simple is bliss; the more a game shoves a story down your throat, the less immersive it is. For this reason I think that Red + Blue had the deepest level of immersion. The story was very basic and I didn't have an NPC telling me to turn left every five seconds, nor did I have to go visit a diva in a cafe. For the most part we were left to our own devices and only limited by HMs. The point is that the less the game holds our hands, the more free we are to let our imaginations run wild. Imagine the freedom of the original Legend of Zelda vs. the much greater linearity of A Link to the Past. I also agree with noobcubed--visuals aren't everything, and in fact I think the more realistic a game looks the less immersed I am. R+B had very basic (for obvious reasons) visuals and as such what I pictured in my head was unique to me and as grand as I wanted it to be. Another game that I think exemplifies my point is Shadow of the Colossus. That the game was mostly silent (except for sound effects, music only plays when you fight a colossus) and empty really added a mystique I hadn't felt in a game before and let my imagination work while I searched for each new titan to conquer. Even though the graphics were aiming to be realistic and left little to the imagination, the other points I mentioned (silence/emptiness) made the graphics irrelevant to me. On top of that the story was only told in short bursts each time you had to find a new colossus, and only really picked up at the end. This added even more mystery to the game. It starts out as a "save the princess" story and lets you play with that idea until the very end. At this point details emerge and you're left with a "wow" moment and asking even more questions/reflecting on the adventure up to that point. I feel that Red + Blue did that well. The story was get a pokemon go on an adventure. Wait, there's an evil team for you to beat as well--do that. that's really it, I filled in a lot of the details. I'd like to hear from the rest of you. What do you think of this assessment?
  8. Ignoth


    Sep 15, 2013
    Reading your post made me reconsider mine. I'm wondering now if I misinterpreted "immersion". What my original post is about, I realize, is more my level of investment in a game rather than immersion. Basically, I get invested in well written characters and engaging story lines.

    I don't think I've ever been properly "immersed" in any medium of art. I just can't self-insert myself into a game/film/book. I want to see and appraise the game I'm playing as it actually is. To me, letting my imagination run wild and filling in the gaps with what I want distorts a piece of work from its truth. I want to see and appreciate the game for what it actually is, I want to be open and fair and let the experience unfold before me without too much of my personal biases getting in the way. I guess in the end, I like treating my video games like they're high art, pieces of work that are worth discussing and analyzing in an intelligent manner.

    I guess what I'm saying is, fully "immersing" yourself in a game gives you a more personal experience. But it also gives you a distorted experience as you will undoubtedly fill the game with some of your own personal baggage. At which point, objectively discussing and appraising the game as a piece of art becomes almost impossible.

    At the end of the day, it's two different approaches to gaming I guess :). I'm just a guy that's big on analysis and objective criticism of Video Games as an art form.

    ...Anyways back to your point, I agree that the less hand-holding a game does the better. Although I maintain the stance that New Pokemon games > Old Pokemon games, I will admit that one of the larger flaws of the newer games is how linear they are. The Pokemon games are a type of game that creates an inventive world for the player to discover, it would do well to enhance the experience by giving you a bit more wiggle-room for how you want to go about exploring it.
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2014
  9. Its_A_Random

    Its_A_Random A distant memory
    is a Forum Moderator Alumnusis a Community Contributor Alumnus

    Mar 19, 2010
    I honestly can not remember the last time I was really immersed in a Pokémon game. Being a hand-held game with not the best graphics relative to your home console counterparts, it is quite hard to be immersed in the Pokémon games relative to those. The plots did little to help in that regard as others have said, pretty much to the point where they are just mere excuse plots. B/W & B2/W2 was an improvement in that regard, but I feel they took a step back in X/Y, back to excuse plot status; not helping with what is already a pretty low immersion. X/Y's greatly improved graphics & improved battle scenes did help with immersion to some degree, but it was not enough to really suck me in. It felt like I was just playing the game for the sake of playing the game.

    I feel like R/B/Y was probably the most immersive game of the series. At the time of release, Pokémon was not exactly heard of, & despite the poor graphics relative to today, the game could very easily suck you in. Not just because of the novelty factor—which was very large at the time—but the fact that you felt like you were going on an adventure, & the fact that you could easily lose track of the time, since there was a lack of a real time clock to tell you what time it was (which is a bit of an immersion killer imo), but mostly, it was the novelty factor that the series had that really immersed people into the game.
  10. BaffleBlend


    Mar 11, 2014
    I'm easily-immersed. Really easily-immersed. Even back in G2, entire epic battles and conversations and drama played out in my head. I had a very active imagination and I got very attached to my teams, they always developed their own lives.

    X & Y takes this to ridiculous levels. But, Route 7 and Showdown! break the immersion for me. Those just feel so... well, impersonal.
  11. noobcubed


    Jun 9, 2013
    It is difficult for me to objectively assess Pokemon Red/Blue in the same way that it is difficult for me to objectively assess my own mother (not to nearly the same extent, of course, but still, that game was my childhood). If I got more into it than I did for later games, it was because I was younger, and had both more imagination and more free time.
  12. HNA


    Aug 28, 2010
    Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Blue. One hell of an immersion.
    Karxrida likes this.
  13. farmer Potato

    farmer Potato

    Dec 4, 2013
    When I was a wee youngster, PMD 2 immersed me the most with its epic characters and storyline. I literally passed through five hours at a sleepover.

    These days, breeding in X and Y does this.
  14. BenTheDemon

    BenTheDemon Banned deucer.

    Oct 28, 2011
    I get immersed more so in competitive battles (forgive me Orange Islands!) because most players are actually competent.
    I dream of the day that technology let's us battle Pokemon in open air.

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