In the spirit of Ready Player One, I have been thinking about how immersive video games can be. I live on a floor of 43 guys and 8 Xboxes, so video games are a big part of my everyday life. Lately, we have been spending our free time playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, a game I rarely lose at. My skill didn’t come from nowhere, I have had a ton of practice. Throughout middle school and high school, I played CoD for at least an hour almost every day, and recent gameplay has brought back those memories. When I play CoD, I zone out of everything around me and enter the virtual world of the game. We have been playing so much lately that when I close my eyes, I see scenes from the game, and playing is mostly muscle memory and reaction. This is a result of video games’ proficiency at pulling us in to the experience.
With a new Call of Duty being released this Tuesday, Conan O’Brien released a sneak preview of his experience playing (he’s not a big gamer), and his reaction (below) shows just how easily we are entranced by games.
Although he is probably (hopefully) kidding about the game being a better experience than seeing his children born, Conan was clearly blown away by the gameplay. It is this euphoric immersion that has so many people around the world in love with video games. As a casual gamer, Conan is not as exposed to great video games as the core of the gaming community. It is this community that made The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim one of the most popular video games of all time. During the early periods of release, Steam recorded over 320,000 concurrent players at one time, and PC sales only account for 14% of game purchases. The game saw $450 million in sales during the first week of release. Skyrim places the gamer in the vast country of Skyrim during the return of the evil dragon Alduin and civil war.
The game provides over 300 hours of gameplay through side quests, contests, achievements, main quests, guilds, leveling up, and other miscellaneous tasks, not including the DLC. The DLC adds a new leveling system, different play styles, additions to the map, new weapons and armor, and even the chance to build a house from scratch. Skyrim even includes eating, drinking, sleeping, cooking, marriage, and curing yourself of diseases to the exhaustive list of gameplay features. Playing Skyrim is like living a second life, and many people forget about their real one for hours at a time:
Much like in Ready Player One, Skyrim provides a place for even casual gamers to get lost and forget everything else. The advancement of video games has gifted our generation with the most effective source of escapism humanity has ever seen.