Game of the Year 2013: The Last of Us vs Grand Theft Auto V and The Battle for Immersion.

For this weeks blog I have decided to look at the argument of situated vs diegetic immersion in relation to’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,, 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’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’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 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 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


5 thoughts on “Game of the Year 2013: The Last of Us vs Grand Theft Auto V and The Battle for Immersion.

  1. Haven’t played either game but have heard a lot about both. I’m wondering why you felt less connection to the characters in GTA V if you were creating your own fiction through that character as a direct avatar of your actions, compared to the predetermined narrative of The Last of Us.

    • In answering this I like to use the analogy of reading a book written by someone else or reading a book in which you, yourself has written. If you read someone else’s fiction you grow more attached to the world, it’s characters and more importantly it’s story. If you create your own fiction I feel that you lose that deeper level of immersion in the world and it’s characters. I honestly cannot get my head around why this is for me as I’m sure others will argue the complete opposite.

  2. I thought both games were great, however The Last Of Us really does get you emotionally involved, especially with the relationship between Joel and Ellie. I was thinking about the ending of the game long after I had finished it.

    In my opinion the characters in GTA V weren’t really fully formed like the characters in The Last Of Us were. Also in The Last Of Us, the players are aware of Joel’s backstory and can sort of understand his actions even if we don’t agree with them. The characters in GTA V are typical Rockstar games characters, sort of cartoony and there for humour rather than deep emotion.

    • I completely agree. However, do you think that if The Last of Us was also an open world game would it change our relationship and emotional experience with both Ellie and Joel?

  3. For me The Last of Us felt more immersive in both forms, due to the linearity of the storyline as well as the cinematic qualities. GTA V’s immersion for me was less so. I think constantly changing between the different characters especially during missions broke the immersive experience in GTA V. Additionally being able to choose to do certain missions in a less chronological order than The Last of Us made GTA V’s story less engaging, personally.

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