For this weeks blog I have decided to look at the argument of situated vs diegetic immersion in relation to IGN.com’s recent 2013 Game of The Year battle between two of the years biggest games of 2013: Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto V and Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us. You can watch their video discussing the decision here.
In short, the videogame giant, IGN.com, selected The Last of Us as their Game of The Year because it fully immersed gamers, both in a diegetic and a situated sense. Colin Moriarty, one of IGN.com’s senior editors, expresses that “The Last of Us is unparalleled in 2013 as far as games are concerned because it fuses all of these great elements together; character, plot with gameplay in a way that no other game really has… it’s a third person shooter with stealth elements but its about that story, its about those characters, its about how you care about everything that happens within the game”.
By putting together what IGN.com’s discussed and my own experience with the game I can say that Naughty Dog used the videogame medium as a platform to tell their own complex story fit for film or television. I argue that the story is fit for these mediums, as The Last of Us is an experience where you cannot stray far from the path in which Naughty Dog has dictated. Rather than letting the gamer chose his or her own path Naughty Dog sets out to tell their own story and for the gamer to follow it and take from it what they wish.
This is most apparent in the final sequence of the game. I will not give away any spoilers but if you wish to watch or re-watch the sequence here is the link. The ending shows how the gamer is given no choice and is forced to follow Joel’s actions whether he or she wishes to or not.
It can then be said that The Last of Us is a game that is dedicated to creating a dietetically immerse experience that fully engrosses the gamer within Naughty Dog characters, story and world. However, if we now turn our heads to Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto V, which also received a 10/10 review from IGN.com in 2013 we can see that the two games offer very different experiences.
Grand Theft Auto V is an open world game in which the player can do whatever they wish. Players can engage in the main story by finishing missions to progress it, players can also stray from the missions at hand instead creating their own fiction, be it high jacking a tank or playing mini-games with friends online. In a video here IGN.com argues that Grand Theft Auto V although having “a tone of gameplay” lacked the immersion that the Last of Us had. Could it then be said that to be a dietetically immersive videogame one should follow a linear story-telling path? No.
Grand Theft Auto V was a very immersive experience for me personally, in both of its forms discussed. However, The Last of Us told a more passionate and emotional story in which I simply enjoyed more because of the connection I had with its characters. What are your own opinions on these two games and if you enjoyed another game more this year what was it and why? As I’d be more than happy to give it a try!
Liam Sew Hoy