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Love both the silicone case and zebra sleeve pouch. The item was all that the description said it would be! I am very pleased with this product and would recommend it to friends.
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Immersion, Engagement, and Presence
A Method for Analyzing 3-D Video Games


. Video games allow the viewers to engage actively in the scenarios presented. [Adolescents] are temporarily transported from lifes problems by their playing, they experience a sense of personal involvement in the action when they work the controls, and they perceive the video games as not only a source of companionship, but possibly as a substitute for it.1 Hotshot digital cinematography doesnt make a digital story immersive. What makes it immersive is a world where no territory is off-limits, anything you see is fair game, and all your actions have consequences.2
A recent shift in computer game design involves a move away from 2-D level design, in games like Prince of Persia (1992), or from isometric design in games like Warcraft, to 3-D design and a rst-person point of view. This shift increases the sense of immersion by replicating the aesthetic approaches of rst-person shooter games in other types of games, such as adventure games, role-playing games, and even strategy games, which previously used 2-D levels or isometric views. The shift in design is indicative of an overall trend to make desktop video games feel more like virtual reality. My approach here is to reexamine our concept of immersion in video games and suggest that immersion has become an excessively vague, all-inclusive concept. It is necessary to break down the concept of immersion into its more specic meanings and develop a more specic terminology. In this essay, I take the

68. Alison McMahan

concept of presence, as it is used in technical literature on virtual reality for scientic applications, as the basis for developing of a set of aesthetic criteria for analyzing 3-D video game design.
Immersion As we can see in the quotations at the beginning of this essay, immersion means the player is caught up in the world of the games story (the diegetic level), but it also refers to the players love of the game and the strategy that goes into it (the nondiegetic level). It seems clear that if we are talking about immersion in video games at the diegetic level and immersion at the nondiegetic level, then we are talking about two different things, with possibly conicting sets of aesthetic conventions. No specic terminology has yet been proposed to clarify those issues. In addition, humanities scholars have started to pick up, from scientic literature on virtual reality, the term presence, dened loosely as the feeling of being there. The terms immersion and presence are seen together more and more often, although both have been so loosely dened as to be interchangeablewhich they often are. The rst step is to dene each term carefully. The most accepted denition of immersion is Janet Murrays:
A stirring narrative in any medium can be experienced as a virtual reality because our brains are programmed to tune into stories with an intensity that can obliterate the world around us. The experience of being transported to an elaborately simulated place is pleasurable in itself, regardless of the fantasy content. We refer to this experience as immersion. Immersion is a metaphorical term derived from the physical experience of being submerged in water. We seek the same feeling from a psychologically immersive experience that we do from a plunge in the ocean or swimming pool: the sensation of being surrounded by a completely other reality, as different as water is from air, that takes over all of our attention, our whole perceptual apparatus. in a participatory medium, immersion implies learning to swim, to do the things that the new environment makes possible. the enjoyment of immersion as a participatory activity.3
Most scholars and scientists seem to agree that total photo- and audiorealism is not necessary for a virtual reality environment to produce in the viewer a sense of immersion, a sense that the world they are in is real and complete, although this awareness has not stopped VR producers from aiming for photo- and audio-realism. Also taken for granted is that the more surrounding the VR exhibition technology is (the bigger the screen, the better the surround-sound) the more immersive it will be. However, it is quite possible to become very immersed in a desktop VR, for immersion is not totally dependent on the physical dimensions of the technology. Three conditions create a sense of immersion in a virtual reality or 3-D computer game: (1) the users expectations of the game or environment must match the
Immersion, Engagement, and Presence. 69
environments conventions fairly closely; (2) the users actions must have a non-trivial impact on the environment; and (3) the conventions of the world must be consistent, even if they dont match those of meatspace.4 Narrative and narrative genres are often used as a way of dening the conventions of a world and to help the user align their expectations with the logic of the world. It is no accident that role-playing and adventure games, the video game genres that have the most in common with more linear time-based narrative forms such as the cinema, were among the rst to go 3-D.

Engagement However, narrative is not a key component of most video games. Instead, many users appreciate games at a nondiegetic levelat the level of gaining points, devising a winning (or at least a spectacular) strategy, and showing off their prowess to other players during the game and afterward, during replay. To be so engaged with a game that a player reaches a level of near-obsessiveness is sometimes referred to as deep play. The term originated with Jeremy Bentham, in his The Theory of Legislation (1931). Bentham was referring to a state of mind in which users would enter into games almost irrationally, even though the stakes were so high it was pointless for them to engage in them at all. The example given was: a man whose fortune is a thousand pounds; if he wagers ve hundred of it on an even bet, the marginal utility of the pound he stands to win is clearly less than the marginal disutility of the one he stands to lose. Having come together in search of pleasure [both participants] have entered into a relationship which will bring the participants, considered collectively, net pain rather than net pleasures.5 The anthropologist Clifford Geertz extended the meaning of the term to the kind of substantial emotional investment humans make in violent rituals such as Balinese cock ghting. Geertz found the deepest investment of human meaning in matches where the odds are more or less even and the stakes irrationally high. His deep play requires a parity of force. According to Diane Carr, the term deep play, as used in gaming magazines, refers to a player accessing/accumulating layers of meaning that have strategic value. like deep play in a Dungeons and Dragons [board game] context would mean knowing all the monsters and the different schools of magic, for example, whereas shallow play would mean more up and running hack and slash style of play.6 The term deep play, when referring to video games, then, is a measure of a players level of engagement. Presence The shift to 3-D design in games has already led to the adoption of the term presence, usually applied to virtual reality environments (VREs), to be used

70. Alison McMahan

when discussing certain types of video games. However, the term presence is often used synonymously with immersion, which simply adds to the confusion. By specically applying the criteria for presence developed for virtual reality design to 3-D video games we can develop a set of design criteria that will enable us to judge a games degree of immersiveness, engagement, and the degree of presence possible. The development of such a tool takes on a certain urgency in a legal environment in which games are routinely labeled as addictive, as inductive of hallucinatory trances, and blamed as the source for crimes such as the Columbine shootings.

The Trend Toward 3-D Design As Mark J. P. Wolf has pointed out, most 3-D games represent their navigable space using the conventions of Classical Hollywood Cinema, at least to a degree. The difference, of course, is that these spaces are navigable; rstperson shooters and virtual reality games, for example, provide players with an unbroken exploration of space, allowing them to pan, tilt, track, and dolly through the space, which is usually presented in a rst-person perspective view and is navigable in real time.7 Game historians generally agree that Battlezone, a 1980 Atari arcade game described as a hyperrealistic tank combat simulator8 was probably the rst game depicted from a rst-person perspective9 as seen through a periscope that simulated the interior of a tank. Battlezone was drawn in vector graphics, that is, straight lines that connect any two points on the screen. Games like Lunar Lander (1979) and Battlezone pioneered the vector look. The mountains and other landscape elements were depicted in luminous green polygonal shapes but were realistic enough for the Army to ask Atari to design a training simulator for them (its not clear if this simulator was ever built).10 Wireframe is the term used for objects that are outlined, but without the planes lled in.11 Wireframe is still an acceptable way of depicting virtual reality, and is used in lms such as The Thirteenth Floor (1998). The rst game to use polygon-based 3-D graphics was I, Robot, designed by Dave Theurer, and released in 1983.12 In 1982, isometric (i.e., constant measurements) perspective was introduced in a Sega game called Zaxxon. The term isometric comes from the architectural practice of isometric drawings, in which all horizontal lines are drawn at an angle of thirty degrees to the horizontal plane of projection.13 The result is no vanishing points and equal emphasis given to all three planes. As Poole writes: In video game terms, this means that an illusion of solidity is created while preserving an external viewpoint. You could see three sides of an object rather than just one; and now,
Immersion, Engagement, and Presence. 71
crucially, the game screen was not just a neutral arena; it had become an environment.14 Isometric perspective had its heyday and is now still used for games like SimCity, Civilization, and Command and Conquer, all games in which the player controls numerous units (people, tanks, factories, etc.) within a vast playing area and with an omniscient overview. But the foreshortening of scientic perspective had certain advantages: it implied a subjective, individual viewpoint, and it promised a degree of immersiveness that the Gods-eye-view of isometric perspective could never deliver.15 Scientic perspective made a comeback with the rst truly immersive 3-D game, Wolfenstein 3-D (1992).16 Wolfenstein put the player into rooms, separated by doors, with walls receding realistically into the distance and populated with bots that took the form of Nazi soldiers for the player to destroy. There was no texture on the walls or ceilings so only the walls moved with forward movement, and the bots looked 2-D as they were drawn with bit-mapped sprites whose pixels enlarged as they got closer. Wolfenstein made another innovation, which was adopted by the genre, which was to include a representation of hands (the players hands) clutching a gun at the bottom of the screen. The gun is not used for aiming, but it does make the player feel more like they are incorporated into the space. These conventions were continued and developed in other rst-person shooters, such as Doom (1993), Hexen (1994), Quake (1996), and Unreal (1998). Technical literature on presence in VR often make reference to the conventions of rst-person shooters as the standards for a sense of presence and a transparent interface, especially Doom, Quake, and Unreal. For example, Randy Pausch et al. say that Doom. get[s] users to the point where the interface becomes transparent and the user focuses on task performance.17 In another example, Michael Lewis and Jeffrey Jacobson assert that: The most sophisticated rendering pipelines are now found not on specialized scientic machines but on PC video cards costing less than $500. The most sophisticated, responsive interactive simulations are now found in the engines built to power games.18 And nally, John Laird, comparing the possibilities for articial intelligence research in robotics and rst-person shooters, prefers the latter: Simulated virtual environments make it possible to bypass many of these problems, while preserving the need for intelligent real-time decision-making and interaction. computer games provide us with a source of cheap, reliable, and exible technology for developing our own virtual environments for research.19 As we can see from the above quotations, rst-person shooter games and game editors are used in virtual reality research because they promise a high degree of immersiveness, engagement, and presence in an affordable, manageable format. But when researchers ascribe a high degree of presence to rst-person shooter games, what exactly are they referring to?

72. Alison McMahan

Origins of the Term Presence Steuer gives a useful outline of the provenance of the term presence:
Presence is closely related to the phenomenon of distal attribution or externalization, which refer to the referencing of our perceptions to an external space beyond the limits of the sensory organs themselves. In unmediated perception, presence is taken for granted-what could one experience other than ones immediate physical surroundings? However, when perception is mediated by a communication technology, one is forced to perceive two separate environments simultaneously: the physical environment in which one is actually present, and the environment presented via the medium. Telepresence is the extent to which one feels present in the mediated environment, rather than in the immediate physical environment. Telepresence is dened as the experience of presence in an environment by means of a communication medium. In other words, presence refers to the natural perception of an environment, and telepresence refers to the mediated perception of an environment. This environment can be either a temporally or spatially distant real environment (for instance, a distant space viewed through a video camera), or an animated but non-existent virtual world synthesized by a computer (for instance, the animated world created in a video game).20
Steuers denition, which dates from 1992, is useful because it shows us how the current usage of the term presencewhich Marie-Laure Ryan has dened as we experience what is made of information as being material is derived from telepresence, which, as Steuer wrote in 1993, originally meant a successful experience of presence in a teleoperation environment, such as scientists on Earth using devices to work on satellites in space, which gave them the feeling of being astronauts. As Ryan noted, the word presence is currently used to indicate a successful feeling being there in a synthetic environment, while telepresence has been reserved for teleoperation situations such as surgery, research in space, and so on.21 I will explore further changes in the meaning of the the word telepresence later in this essay. For more detail on what is meant by presence, Ryan refers to the work of Sheridan,22 but a more detailed and more referenced series of studies are those by Lombard and Ditton.23 Matthew Lombard and Theresa Ditton dene presence as the articial sense that a user has in a virtual environment that the environment is unmediated.24 They surveyed the literature on presence and found that other researchers had conceptualized presence as the result of a combination of one or all of six different factors. Their summary indicated that an increased sense of presence can result from a combination of all or some of the following factors: quality of social interaction, realism in the environment (graphics, sound, etc.), from the effect of transportation, from the degree of immersiveness generated by the interface, from the users ability to

Telepresence, Teleoperation, Teleportation Lombard and Ditton, in their 1997 article, referred to this as transportation. (When they wrote the abstract for their study in 2000, they referred to this category as teleportation or telepresence, using the words
Immersion, Engagement, and Presence. 77
interchangeably).41 Lombard and Ditton have identied three types of transportation: (1) You are there, in which the user is transported to another place, the oldest version of presence; (2) It is here, in which another place and the objects within it are transported to the userthe example given is of how television brings the objects and people from another place to the media users environment42 ; and (3) We are together, in which two or more communicators are transported to a common space, such as in immersive video conferencing. For the the purposes of humanities scholarship, however, especially when it comes to the analysis of 3-D games, it seems better to abandon the rst meaning of transportation as this is too similar to the conventional denition of the word presence itself. By the same token, it seems better to retain the term telepresence for the second meaning Lombard and Ditton ascribed to transportation, that is, telepresence systems use video signals and computer graphics to place the user at a remote or inaccessible location.43 Telepresence can also cover the we are there together meaning, as this is only different from You are there in that it covers more users, whereas teleoperation will keep its meaning of people controlling tools, such as surgical instruments, and performing manipulations such as surgery on a patient that is made present to them through the use of virtual reality, covering Lombard and Dittons second meaning. Finally, a third term needs to be added to cover something that does not, as yet, happen in real life but is quite frequent in games: teleportation. In Diablo, for example, players can open portals that will transport them from the dungeons below to the village above and vice versa. Other games, such as Titanic, have maps as interfaces; the player can click on where they want to go on a map and they are instantly there.
Perceptual and Psychological Immersion Presence is also the result of perceptual and psychological immersion. The rst is accomplished by blocking as many of the senses as possible to the outside world and making it possible for the user to perceive only the articial world, by the use of goggles, headphones, gloves, and so on. The second results from the users mental absorption in the world. Theorists such as Schuemie et al.44 have followed Lombard and Ditton in assuming that the ability to interact with the mediated environment is the most important factor in the sense of presence, and that this explains why immersive virtual reality environments have been shown to be effective in the treatment of fear of heights, fear of ying, arachnophobia, claustrophobia, and agoraphobia, and the fear of being in places from which escape might be difcult or embarrassing.

78. Alison McMahan

A well-known example of a VRE with a very high level of immersiveness is Osmose, by Char Davies. Davies believes that full body immersion in a virtual environment can lead to shifts in mental awareness. She also felt that the technology associated with the Cartesian types of virtual reality inherited from the Western-scientic-industrial complex is not neutral. Davies set out to deliberately circumvent these conventions. Osmose. shuns conventional hand-based modes of user interaction which tend to reduce the body to that of disembodied eye and probing hand in favour of an embodying interface which tracks breath and shifting balance, grounding the immersive experience in that participants own body.45 The metaphor for Osmose is scuba diving: the environments are slightly blurred and without horizon lines, much like the ocean; users move from space to space by breathing or adjusting their balance. Some users have strong emotional reactions to Daviess environments, suggesting that the high degree of immersion, with an interface that involves the kinesthetic sense as well as hearing and sight, results in a high degree of presence.
The Use of a Social Actor in the Medium The use of a synthetic social actor also can lead to a heightened sense of presence. Users respond to virtual guides and virtual pets in much the same way they respond to the direct address of newscasters on TV. Synthetic social actors can be of different types. For example, an interaction with a social actor can be preprogrammed. In the text-based MUD Angalon, users can battle with a scarecrow, a battle that plays like a cut-scene in a graphic game: the users actions instigate the struggle, but once started it plays out according to the MUDs programming. More interactive encounters are possible, for example, in the same MUD users also can adopt one of the kittens that are nested in a barn, and the kitten will make its presence felt by perching on the users shoulder or climbing up their leg. In spite of the clearly programmed nature of these synthetic social actors, users tend to respond to them realistically. An excellent example is The Thing in The Thing Growing, a virtual animated character in a CAVE (Computer Automated Virtual Environment) designed by Josephine Anstey and Dave Paper. The Thing Growing takes advantage of everything tacked VR in CAVEs has to offer to create a situation in which the user takes a leading role and develops an emotional relationship with the Thing. First the user follows the sound of the Things voice and lets it out of its box; then the Thing insists on a sort of couple relationship, expressed mainly through dancing (with the Thing and the user alternating in leading). No matter how cooperative the user is, however, the Thing is never emotionally satised and even takes revenge by locking the user in a space where they can no longer interact. The user gets

80. Alison McMahan

aesthetic one. My goal in this article is the articulation of a theoretical tool for the qualitative, aesthetic analysis of 3-D video games. The important thing to remember is that the various elements of presence should be seen as a continuum that each game will embody differently. Once we analyze how different elements of presence are weighted in each game, we can ask ourselves what purpose that serves in this particular game. As an example of application of this method, I have conducted my own analysis of of Myst: Exile (2001).
Myst III: Exile: The Case Study
Exile is the third in the series of groundbreaking video games released by Cyan, beginning with the original Myst in 1993, which was a breakthrough in 3-D rendering in its day and became a bestseller across all game categories and stayed on the bestseller list for 104 weeks. The original Myst was composed on Apple computers, and consisted of still images linked together in HyperCard. The images were of stunning beauty, a tradition kept up in the sequels. In the original, the Miller brothers, the games creators, focused on realistic images, especially textures. There were puzzles to be solved involving fanciful but mechanical (and therefore easily understandable) machines. There were some short video clips in which the user was addressed by a limited number of characters, but these were rare. The user was addressed as someone known to Atrus, who could help repair the tragic effect of the actions of Atruss sons. The sequel, Riven, (1997) continued the conventions of Myst, although it was a much larger game, this time composed on SGI machines using SoftImage. Riven added journeys in a variety of mechanical contrivances, to great effect, and there were more characters. Although not produced by the Miller Brothers, Exile builds on and continues the convention of both games. Images for Exile were modeled in Discreets 3ds max on Mac computers. Like its predecessors, the game is not designed for multiplayer play, so social interaction is limited to conversing with the articial characters. As in the earlier games, the game characters, depicted through video footage, speak to the player but the player has no way of speaking back. The game begins with the player nding him or herself in a sheltered garden, overlooking a dry landscape. After a moment he or she realizes that they are being addressed by Catherine, Atruss wife, who is holding a baby. Cathering directs the player to go into Atruss ofce, as Atrus is expecting them. This rst scene sets up most of the elements relating to presence for the entire game. The user has no avatar, other than the most basic cursors

82. Alison McMahan

later does he realize his mistake). So the player nds themself inserted into a long game of cat-and-mouse that is really taking place between Atrus and Saavedro, with the player assumed to be on Atruss side (there is no option to play from any other perspective). The way to lose the game is by not understanding Saavedro and being taken advantage of by him. Though subtle, this intersubjective triangulation between Atrus, Saavedro, and the player gives the game environment a feeling of presence that it would otherwise lack, based on the intelligence of the environment. Teleportation is used in this game through the linking books, as in the original Myst. The designers have included many references to other forms of virtual reality, such as three telescopes that need to be carefully lined up, to holograms, to portals (the linking books) that transport the player to other parts of the game. Ironically, these mediations add to the feeling that the world itself is nonmediated. Because the game is a desktop computer game, the degree of perceptual immersion is limited. The player is always aware of the relatively small screen and the need to use the mouse. Using the mouse properly can be a challenge on certain puzzles. This low degree of perceptual immersion is amply made up for, however, by a very high degree of psychological immersion. Once the player adapts to the games conventions it is possible, if one is so inclined, to lose oneself in the beauty and peacefulness of the environment. There is not much need to strategize as the realistic environment also uses sureties, shocks, and surprises to guide the player from one place to another and from one puzzle to another. If the player does not resist the logic of railings and closed doors (trying to jump down the elevator shaft, for example, or off a cliff, does not accomplish anything) then it is perfectly clear where to go and how to get there. There is no time limit to solving the puzzles and therefore no sense of hurry. This contributes greatly to the overall sense of psychological immersion. For a sense of how the perceptual realism works in Myst III: Exile, lets take a closer look at the rst age, Jnanin: The Lesson Age. Jnanin is full of sureties that guide and show the player where to go: catwalks, stone steps, stepping stones, sandy paths, curving metal stairways, and ladders. Only by following these paths can the player move through the game (and of course, link to different Ages through books, a Myst convention that would be familiar to players from other games with similar devices, such as the portals in Diablo). So Sureties, as Fencott has dened them, are one of the principle elements that add to the presence in this world. Shocks, the signs that we are playing a game, are rare. If a player insists on trying to jump into a pool of water, off an cliff, or down an elevator shaft, nothing will happen, and they will hear a whispery warning sound, the closest thing this game has to a shock. Of course the game is very large and requires switching

Immersion, Engagement, and Presence. 83
CDs regularly, but once started on a CD the player can play for a long time without other interruptions. What makes the Myst franchise special are its surprises. Attractors abound: players want to read the diaries scattered throughout the world (and know that the information in them functions as a retainer, as a device for helping them solve the puzzles). They want to play with the numerous gadgets like lamps, gears, and levers, and, best of all, go for wild rides in rail cars or blimps. They know that in order to do this they need to solve the puzzles. Attractors that appear early in the game, such as the Venus ytrap and the scale that balances wooden and crystal balls, serve as connectors to other parts of the game, because the player will encounter puzzles later that can be solved with the information garnered from the scale or the ytrap. This type of surprise is typical to adventure games and therefore feels very intuitive to players with a minimum of experience. To sum up, Myst III: Exile, like its predecessors, offers users the opportunity to explore a particular kind of worldthe typical adventure game experience. Exile provides a more meditative experience, the result of the way the games design emphasizes perceptual realism and minimizes social interaction. All of this is in keeping with the games genre and theme. Other games emphasize different elements of presence. For example, Diablo II has an isometric view; the player can choose from a number of avatars; the game is populated by numerous nonplayer characters and can be played alone or in multiplayer versions. Compared to Exile, however, the world is not all that visually immersive, and each new dungeon does not look all that different from the next. Diablo emphasizes social interaction. Social realism is low, which means that there is a lot of information the player must learn about weapons and monsters in order to succeed. However, once this is accomplished, psychological immersion can be very high, as battling the various monsters and other players requires the players constant attention and strategic calculation. The monsters are not very complex social actors, unlike Exiles Saavedro, who has a long history and a complex set of motivations. But the Diablo player does not have time to really think about such issues, anyway. In short, Lombard and Dittons conceptualization of presence enables critics and analysts to conduct an aesthetic analysis of various types of games, which can contribute to a fuller overall analysis as well as to a badly needed elaboration of game genres, which have experienced some rapid changes recently. An elaborated concept of presence also can help those working in virtual reality, those working in games, and those working in interactive instruction design develop a common vocabulary and therefore learn from each other. It also provides players with a terminology to discuss the games that they like, so they can ask for more.

84. Alison McMahan

1. 2. 3. 4. Eugen Provenzo, Video Kids: Making Sense of Nintendo (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991), 6465. J. C. Herz, Joystick Nation: How Video Games Ate Our Quarters, Won Our Hearts and Rewired Our Minds (Boston, New York, Toronto, London: Little, Brown, and Company, 1997), 155. Janet Murray, Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1997), 9899. Two representative discussions of the nature of immersiveness can be found in Thomas B. Sheridan, Interaction, Imagination and Immersion: Some Research Needs, in Proceedings of the ACM Symposium on Virtual Reality Software and Technology. Seoul, Korea, (2000), 5, and in George Robertson, Mary Czerwinski, and Maarten van Dantzich, Immersion in Desktop Virtual Reality, in Proceedings of the 10th Annual ACM symposium on User Interface Software and Technology. Banff, Canada (1997), 11. Clifford Geertz, Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockght, in The Interpretation of Cultures (New York: Basic Books [1972] 1973), 432. Personal communication. Mark J. P. Wolf, The Medium of the Video Game (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2001), 66. Van Burnham, Supercade: A Visual History of the Videogame Age 19711984 (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2001), 216. See Steven Poole, Trigger Happy: Video games and the Entertainment Revolution (New York: Arcade Publishing, 2000), 112, and Wolf, The Medium of the Video Game. Van Burnham, Supercade. Poole, Trigger Happy, 211. Van Burnham, Supercade, 382. Poole, Trigger Happy, 121. Poole, Trigger Happy, 121. Poole, Trigger Happy, 12223. Ataris vector arcade game, Star Wars (1983), had an immersive rst person perspective, like Battlezone, with guns at the edge of the screen and the ability to steer through the space. This article focuses primarily on 3-D games with polygonal graphics, but we are not done learning from older vector games. Randy Pausch, Jon Snoddy, Robert Taylor, Scott Watson, and Eric Haseltine, Disneys Aladdin: rst steps toward storytelling in virtual reality, in Proceedings of the 23rd annual conference on Computer Graphics and interactive Techniques (1996), 95. Michael Lewis, and Jeffrey Jacobson, Game Engines in Scientic Research (Special Issue: Game Engines in Scientic Research), Communications of the ACM 45, No. 1 (January 2002): 27. John E. Laird, Research in Human-Level AI Using Computer Games, Communications of the ACM 45, No. 1 (January 2002): 32. Jonathan Steuer, Dening Virtual Reality: Dimensions Determining Telepresence, Journal of Communication, 42, No. 4 (Autumn, 1992): 7393. Available online at <http://>. Marie-Laure Ryan, Narrative as Virtual Reality: Immersion and Interactivity in Literature and Electronic Media (Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001), 6768. For example, see Thomas B. Sheridan, Interaction, Imagination and Immersion: Some Research Needs, in Proceedings of the ACM Symposium on Virtual Reality Software and Technology, Seoul, Korea, 2000. See especially M. Lombard et al., Measuring presence: a literature-based approach to the development of a standardized paper-and-pencil instrument. Project abstract submitted for presentation at Presence 2000: The Third International Workshop on Presence. Available online at <>. Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin use immediacy to dene a similar concept, in their book Remediation (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, [1999] 2000): Immediacy (or transparent immediacy): A style of visual representation whose goal is to make the viewer forget the presence of the medium (canvas, photographic lm, cinema, and so on) and believe that he is in the presence of the object of

5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16.
17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23.
Immersion, Engagement, and Presence. 85
representation. One of the two strategies of remediation; its opposite is hypermediacy, A style of visual representation whose goal is to remind the viewer of the medium. One of the two strategies of remediation. (27273). 25. 26. Originally published in Michael Heim, The Metaphysics of Virtual Reality (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993). By simulation, Heim means the trend in certain kinds of VR applications that try to approach photo-realism, using graphics or photographs, and also use surround-sound with an aim toward realism. Heim points out that we think of any interaction mediated by a machine as a virtual one (including phone calls with people we never meet). By Articiality, Heim means what other scholars such as Cubitt mean by Simulation; in other words, an environment with possibilities for action (a world) that is a human construct. This construct can be mental, like the mental-maps of Australian Aborigines, or constructed, like a 3-D VR. For Heim,Immersion refers to VR technologys goal to cut off visual and audio sensations from the surrounding world and replaces them with computer-generated sensations. Full-Body Immersion, which Heim also called Projection VR, following Myron Krueger, is dened as Interactive Environments where the user moves without encumbering gear (such as a Head Mount Display) Projection VR requires more suspension of disbelief on the part of the user. Heim makes the distinction between VR and telepresence: virtual reality shades into telepresence when you bring human effectiveness into a distant locationfor example, using robotics. For Networked Communications, Heim followed the denition of Jason Lanier: a virtual world is a shared construct, a RB2 (Reality Built for Two) Communication with others in an environment is essential; online networked communities strongly embodies this element of VR. Heim incorporates all seven elements into a new denition of VR: An articial simulation can offer users an interactive experience of telepresence on a network that allows users to feel immersed in a communications environment. See, for example, M. Ryan, Cyberspace, Virtuality and the Text, in Cyberspace Textuality, Computer Technology and Literary Theory, ed. Marie-Laure Ryan (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1999), 78107. Matthew Lombard and Theresa Ditton, At the Heart of It All: The Concept of Presence, JCMC 3, No. 2 (September, 1997): 4. Lombard and Ditton, At the Heart of It All: The Concept of Presence, 4. Nat Durlach and Mel Slater, Presence in Shared Virtual Environments and Virtual Togetherness, Research Laboratory of Electronics (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2000). Alluqu` re Roseanne Stone, The War of Desire and Technology at the Close of the Mechanical e Age (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1996), 8392. Bolter and Grusin, Remediation, 247. Alison McMahan, Spectator, Avatar, Golem, Bot: Interface and Subject Position in Interactive Fiction (paper given at the Society for Cinema Studies Conference, Chicago, 2000). See also The Effect of Multiform Narrative on Subjectivity, Screen 40, no 2 (Summer 1999): 146157. Pac-Man, of course, also achieved a high degree of recognisability and tie-in merchandising and spinoff TV show, hit song, and numerous sequel games. Ad copy on back of Lara Croft: Lethal and Loaded, 50 min. West Long Branch, NJ: White Star Video, 2001, DVD. See especially Diane Carrs article in ScreenPlay: Cinema/videogames/interfaces, eds. Geoff King and Tanya Krzywinska (London: Wallower Press, 2002); and my chapter on avatars and bots in Alison McMahan, Branching Characters, Branching Plots: A Critical Approach to Interactive Fiction (forthcoming). For a more detailed cultural analysis of networked communications and MUDs, see my essay Verbal-Visual-Virtual: A MUDdy History, in Gramma: Journal of Theory and Criticism 7 (1999): 7390. Lombard and Ditton, At the Heart of it All: The Concept of Presence, 5. Clive Fencott, Presence and the content of Virtual Environments, (1999). Available online at <>. J. D. Prothero, D. E. Parker, T. A. Furness III, and M. J. Wells, Foreground/background manipulations affect presence (paper presented at HFES 95). Available online at <>.

27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33.

34. 35. 36.

37. 38. 39. 40.

86. Alison McMahan

41. 42. 43. 44. Matthew Lombard et al., Measuring Presence. Lombard and Ditton, At the Heart of it All: The Concept of Presence, 6. Bolter and Grusin, Remediation, 214. M. J. Schuemie, C. A. P. G. van der Mast, M. Krijn, and P. M. G. Emmelkamp, Exploratory Design and Evaluation of a User Interface for Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy, in Medicine Meets Virtual Reality, ed. J. D. Westwood, H. M. Hoffman, R. A. Robb, D. Stredney, 468474. IOS Press, 2002. Available online at <>. From the Immersence website at < htm>. Josephine Anstey and Dave Pape, Animation in the Cave, Animation World Magazine (April 1, 1998). Available online at < Animation+in+the+Cave&article no=532>. Alison McMahan, Sentient VR: The Memesis Project (Report of a Work in Progress). In Proceedings of the 6th World Multiconference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics, ed. Ngib Callaos, Marin Bica and Maria Sanchez. International Institute of Informatics and Systematics, Vol. XII (2002): 467-472. Available online at < almcmahan/memesis/home/index.html>. Lombard and Ditton, At the Heart of it All: The Concept of Presence, 10.

45. 46. 47.


Game Control System (1/2)
Game control is the interface between the game and the user. Game control is not only input device control but also the camera control Input device control
On PC Mouse Keyboard Gamepad On game console Gamepad buttons 0 or 255 Joystick 0 - 255

Game Control

Chuan-Chang Wang 2006, Build 1
Game Control System (2/2)

Camera control

First-personal view FirstThird-personal view ThirdGod view Pre-set camera view PreEtc

Mouse Control (1/3)

Mouse is a 2D device.
2-axis moving Related movement 2 or 3 buttons

Mouse can :

Move Drag Double-click Double-


Hit test Selection Pilot Position & orientation

Mouse Control (2/3)

Typical game types using mouse control
Real-time strategy games RealRole Playing Game

Mouse Control (3/3)

Easy to hand on Slow action Compared with joystick Value range from -32727 ~ 32727
Typical game play examples :
Path finding for playable character Hitting the enemy Selecting a group of units Orientating the camera in FPS games Menu selection


Always coupling with god-view camera control godViewing from the top of game world

Keyboard Control (1/3)

Standard PC input device Simulating the gamepads
Not every PC game player having gamepad Using keyboard as the alternative device

Keyboard Control (2/3)

Communication tool

Typing messages

Typical game types using keyboard
MMORPG Needs chatting with friends Real-time strategy games RealHotkey system First-person shooting games FirstFighting games

Hotkey system

Each key has two states. Pressed Released 256 keys
Key presses/released ASCII code
Chatting Character controls Move forward Turning
One hotkey can represent a set of commands

Very fast input device

Keyboard Control (3/3)
Shortcut for a sequence of actions Commands Menu selection But a little bit complicated for players 256 keys

Gamepad Control (1/3)

A small keyboard designed for game playing keyboard
Gamepad can map to the hotkey system Same behaviors Less than 20 keys

Majors keys :

Gamepad Control (2/3)
Recent gamepad capable of two extra digital joysticks
For buttons Value range : 0 or 255 For joystick Value range : 0 to 255

Gamepad Control (3/3)

Combat system in a fighting game Move forward Turn
Designed for game playing Look and feel Easy to hand-on handIf you not to challenge the players usual practice players
Typical game types using gamepad
Almost all types of games except Need typing Need large-range selection for game units large-
Character controls Move forward Turn

Camera Control

First-personal view FirstThird-personal view but following the playable character ThirdGod view Fixed Following the playable character Fixed view Pre-rendered background PrePre-set view Pre
God-view Camera Example God-
Very sensitive to game play design & game control Camera control is not an independent system

Age of Empire 3

Case Study Third-personal View (1/6) ThirdUse arrow keys on keyboard or gamepad
Case Study Third-personal View (2/6) ThirdThe camera following the character to move And keeping a range of distance, a reasonable height and look-down angle with the character. look-


Basic key assignments :
Up key to move the playable character forward Down key to turn character facing to the camera and move forward Left & right keys to turn the character to left or right

PC Height Distance

Case Study Third-personal View (3/6) ThirdDetailed key assignments :
Up key Turn the character facing back to the camera Move the character forward If the distance between the character and the camera is larger a pre-set range, move the camera forward to keep the distance. preAt the same time, the height to the ground will be changed to synchronize with the character. Down key Turn the character facing to the camera Move the character forward The camera will move backward to keep a distance with the character. The height to the ground will be changed to synchronize with the character.
Case Study Third-personal View (4/6) ThirdIf the camera is blocked by obstacle to move backward, raise the height of the camera but keep the eyes on the character.

Case Study Third-personal View (5/6) ThirdRight key Turn the character facing to the right of the camera. Take the cameras position as a circle center and the distance camera between the camera and the character as the radius. Set the circle as the movement orbit. Let the character move on the orbit. When the character moving, turn the camera to right to keep eyes on the character.
Case Study Third-personal View (6/6) ThirdWhen the character hitting the obstacle, let the character keep on turning and moving, use the same approach in Down key key step to raise the camera. Left key As same as Right key step except the left direction. key

Reference game examples:

Sprinter cell 3 PSO Prince of Persia() Persia() The Legend of Zelda () ()
Demo : 1st DCI students work : iRobot students



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