Immersion Buffet!

By Justin C.

Hello! Let me just begin this blog by saying that I am absolutely thrilled to have discovered yet another time sink. Lord of the Rings Online has been a blast so far. I am discovering new characters and places every time I delve into the gamesphere. It brings me back to my Star Wars Galaxies days. But I digress…

The point of this blog entry is to discuss the story development and other aspects of Lord of The Rings by comparing the narrative over two different mediums: motion picture and video game. The two mediums have very different approaches towards telling a story. The video game offers better immersion. You are a character in the story. You control the events. You choose where to go, what to do, and who to be. Whereas a movie offers a more linear path. You are watching someone else enact the story. I find this much less connecting, much less personal. When I was finished watching the first movie, all I wanted to do was scurry back to my dorm and log back on to Daggaroth so that I could feel like I was back in that world.

The Lord of The Rings movie does a fantastic job of telling the story. Yet, that is just it. It just tells the story. It leaves you wanting more. When you stop watching the movie, it is over, nothing can be changed about it. Whereas when I log off of Daggaroth and run to class, he is still there. The world is still there, still moving, and still changing.

The game lets you find the story on your own. It directs you, but does not push you to find your way. You can choose to learn as much about the lore as you want, or as little. This, to me, offers a much richer experience. The movie, however, does not let you control the story. This takes away so much immersion. Yes, the aesthetics of the movie may be better, but in the game you are planted in an open environment. You are acting with other characters, building a repetoire, and becoming part of the story.

The movie leaves me wanting more, but the game satisfies my desire. I am allowed to create my own story and learn other stories all whilst actually enacting and taking part in Tolkien’s vision. Tokien’s story becomes my story. The game lets me tell the story. It lets me decide what happens. It is an immersion buffet all for my taking.

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1 thought on “Immersion Buffet!”

  1. Justin, I really liked your argument. Personally, there are some days, where I would like to leave the driving to other people and allow them to take me on a journey. I spent last night in LOTRO working through a set of spider quests in Trollshaws that I absolutely would have loved to have skipped in terms of being in control of the character in the play. I get a sense of immersion in many movies. I know it’s been a good one when the film concludes, and I have to ask myself: “wow, what time is it? were we here two hours?”

    Good observation on the differences.

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