How to kill immersion in 5 easy steps

I’m mainly taking an RPG game or adventure game point-of-view here, or any game where story plays very important role.

Here you go:

  1. Have big loading times and use word “loading” when switching between places.
  2. Show the same dialogue options over and over (if you wanna ensure that “character might need that info”, then make so that character has journal where conversation was stored)
  3. Hold the players hand by (1) first letting character tell what to do, (2) then showing text telling what to do, (3) then pointing the next goal on the map regarding what to do and (4) showing hint “maybe I should go there” in the journal. (This one is tricky: on the other hand you don’t want to player to be lost not knowing what to do next… but on the other hand too much information kills immersion. Check this video ‘if Quake was done today’)
  4. Making player guess what you thought that should be done next. If player knows what should happen next, but your game user interface prevents (in RPG, not talking about car driving game) him from reaching the goal, that kills immersion. There’s a great article about this at Raph Koster’s site.
  5. Make character pick dialogue option he thinks is ok, when in reality the other party takes it as offense. This too can be tricky, but bear in mind that as a not-native English speaking chap, I might miss some nuances of conversations… and sometimes I might pick dialogue option that I thought was friendly, when in reality it was offensive. There’s no easy way to get past through this option though, and not sure what’s a good solution (other than accept the fact that this way I learn better English…)

Anything to add to this list? Complaints or solutions?

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. I had a dialogue option once that said: “You chose her?”

    It turned out the statement was to be taken as an exclamation of ridiculousness of the situation at hand. Apparently the only clue to that was that “her” was italicized. And yet I could still interpret the statement many ways depending on how it was said. Unfortunately, the main character has no voice acting.

    Nuances of diction get lost on the text-driven dialogue system. I’ve heard a suggestion before of a dialogue system that does away with having the player choose specific lines, but direct the flow of the conversation by choosing how he wants his character to react: sad, angry, etc. or how he wants the character to direct the topic of conversation in broad choices: cautious, affirmative, interrogative, etc.

  2. Yeah, it end up a classic Monkey Island joke, but still I was thinking how it was 20 and more years ago. The disc swapping and terribly long loading times were once a given element of the game playing experience. Just like the huge pixels. I don’t think the players of those times were really any less excited and immersed than those of today. In a way it was more difficult to break their immersion, because of the game experiences being rarer and more unique back then.

    So my conclusion is that the actual immersion is strongly connected to the designers’ competition for players’ attention. The greater amount of interesting, easily accessible stuff the player is exposed to, the more difficult will it be for him to get immersed in any single one of them.

  3. 6.) Having spelling errors or bad grammer. (And simply breaking the fourth wall)

    I once played an RPG where an NPC literally said: “How r u, player?”

  4. In games like good ol’ Monkey Island that just reinforces the experience.

  5. What if I’ll use the words “creating immersion – put in disc 12” instead of “loading”?

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