3 Things Video Games Do Too Often To Break The Sense Of Immersion

Dave LeClair 30-10-2012

With the launch of the current console generation, video games have adapted a serious emphasis on immersion. They are all about finding a way to make players feel like they are part of the game. Game developers want players to feel like they are entering a world. This helps make the game more enjoyable for players, which is always great, but the real motive is keeping players in the game and away from the competition.


Even though game developers are focused on making games more immersive, all too often they throw things in the game that break the feel and remind you that you are playing a game. These gameplay trappings will suck you out of the living, breathing world and remind you that it’s just a game. Unfortunately  it’s hard to think of alternatives for some of these staples of games, but hopefully, with the incoming next generation of consoles, developers will find alternate ways to accomplish these actions.

Eating & Drinking To Gain Health

I love food as much as the next guy. I also need food to keep me alive just like everyone else. However, what food and drink does not do for me is heal my wounds. If I got attacked by a zombie, I cannot just drink some orange juice and eat some bacon and magically be healed. In video games, it’s far too common to eat some food and have your health restored. Eating and drinking to heal sucks you out of the game and reminds you that it’s not the real world incredibly quickly. Food keeps us alive, but sadly, it does not do it instantly like so many video games want you to believe.

video game immersion

So what’s the solution? It’s a tough one to fix; you need a way to heal in a game or you would die constantly and need to respawn, which is not overly realistic, but I can let respawns slide, as a game just wouldn’t be fun if you had only one life. Really, it comes down to the story of the game. Story creators need to find a way to write healing into the game. If there is a story hook as to why eating heals you, then I can deal with it. Developers can also replace food with some sort of medicine. The key really comes to creating a story hook as to why you are able to heal.

Regenerating Health

As you can see, health is a major issue when it comes to breaking the realism in video games. Eating and drinking is annoying because as we’ve established, it really doesn’t heal you. On the other side of the equation, there is regenerating health, which is obviously unrealistic. Getting shot, bitten, beaten, stabbed or any of the other things that cause you to get hurt in gaming is obviously painful, and hiding behind a wall for five seconds should not be all it takes to heal.


game immersion techniques

The solution for this comes back to the food issue; find a story way to make healing make sense. Either get rid of the regenerating health and require an item to heal, or add some sort of regenerating shield. Halo get’s this perfect. Master Chief can heal because he is wearing a special Spartan suit that regenerates after a short time. This makes sense in the context of the game, and more games need to implement a system like this.

Oblivious NPCs

This one is a real immersion killer. If I am in the middle of a warzone with people getting shot everywhere and the NPCs around me are going about their business like nothing is happening, that’s a real problem. To make a world feel like a living, breathing thing, the inhabitants should act like people would act in the real world. I don’t know about you, but if people around me were shooting at each other while I was walking down the street, I would be running and hiding so fast it would make your head spin.

video game immersion


The reason this happens is hardware limitations. There is only so much power, and making NPCs react to everything happening around them uses tremendous system resources. The fix? Use less NPCs. I understand developers want to populate the game world with lots of people, but if the people are lifeless and unresponsive, then why bother. Either use less NPCs or find a way to make them react authentically to the world around them. Hopefully, this will be fixed with the next console generation when the systems have more resources available.


Fixing immersion really just comes down to coming up with story hooks for the annoying problems. I can deal with any of these things if the game developer finds a way to make them fit in with the game world. When they are just thrown in because it’s the most convenient way to do it, it just feels lazy. Either fix the immersion breaker, or make it fit in with the world, and the gaming world will be a better place for all of us.

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  1. Igor Rizvi?
    October 31, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    I must agree with your conclusion.I find health regeneration and "three-five bullets to kill a npc in a game" a really frustrating thing.If the developers are already trying to make a so much closer reality game content,why are they still a lazy start to fix the common issue in most game.I find the answer in one thing,maybe im mistaken,but they always oriented to starter player or a noobs if you like to call them that way,who finds it frustrating dying alot of times in the same situation where he cant be flexibile or he doesnt want to be ,so he ends up dying a bunch of times and just rage quites the game.Games are suposed to be a fun time,but i dont see that anymore,its getting to a point of "were gone trought this bull**** already,give us something fresh" ando not a camuflaged type of gameplay that we play over and over again.Im sharing this

  2. Alex Perkins
    October 31, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    PC games might have an advantage over the consoles for the NPC issue as they can be upgraded and hence have more power so can give more to the NPCs to make them react more realistically.

  3. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    October 31, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    Aside of oblivious NPC I don't think they are major problems. I very much prefer to view the game world as fantasy world. I don't want it to turn like real world. Oblivious NPC is an exception that would kill just any moment quickly.

  4. Michael Greene
    October 31, 2012 at 10:42 am

    I wonder how the NPC interaction is going to be changing with the next gen console hardware coming. I wonder if anyone (gaming studios) will do something different with the better hardware or just do things the same, but better.