Immersive Fallacy

To me, the most interesting rant at this year’s GDC 06 Rant came from Frank Lantz and his simple theory on the Immersive Fallacy where he expressed his concerns about how focused on realism and simulation games are becoming. Here’s a brief transcript:


“Why does the phrase �the player will be able to go anywhere and do anything� sound like nails on a chalkboard to me? It�s based on a very na�ve and unsophisticated understanding of how simulation, how representation works. You have a thing, a part of the world, and you have a simulation of that. There�s a gap in between, the gap is made up by all the differences, the way that this is not this.. the immersive fallacy is this idea that computer simulation allows us to close this gap and makes these things identical. But this gap is an essential part of how this representation works, this gap is where the magic happens.Let�s say a bear is attacking a friend of yours and is about to kill him. The word �bear� will warn your friend. The word �bear� would not be better if it had teeth and could kill you! The same thing is true of the bear mask that the tribal priest puts on, or the bears on the wall of the cave, and of the game �Bear�. Statues wouldn�t be better if they could move. Model airplanes would not be better if they were the same size as airplanes! By the same token, if you think about it, the incredible sense of freedom created by GTA is created by carefully limiting the actions of the player.


Even if you could by some magic create this impossible perfect simulation world, where would you be? You�d need to stick a game in there. You�d need to make chess out of the simulation rocks in your world. It�s like going back to square one. I don�t wanna play chess again. I wanna play a game that has the dense simulation and chess combined. This requires a light touch. This requires respect for the gap. The gap is part of your toolset.”



9 Responses

  1. […] related to this is the immersive fallacy. The nut of the immersive fallacy is the idea that a game can be made better by expanding […]

  2. […] Immersive Fallacy « Games Are Art “This requires a light touch. This requires respect for the gap. The gap is part of your toolset.” The importance of gaps is cropping up everywhere. It’s in the gap that magic happens. (tags: immersivefallacy games play realism representation immersion sandbox) […]

  3. “The map is not the territory.” But also, it’s interesting that he uses another example of a gap, in the sense of the abstract difference between the word “bear” and the thing “bear”. It’s as if the gap joins them in that case, or the gap is the space which allows a semantic link to be made. Intriguing.

  4. omg

  5. check this out…

    this is mine…

  6. What entitles Frank Lantz to tell players what they should want?

    The “immersive fallacy” is not a fallacy at all, but a player preference. It may be difficult to achieve, but it is not wrong — either morally or logically.

  7. He leido decenas de veces sobre dicho contenido. No resulta bastante
    novedoso. Un web-post mediocre.

  8. Es eel tiempo indicado para pensar ciertos planteamientos para el futuro
    y ser una persona plena. Lei este escrito y si pudiera me gustaria sugerirte
    unas pocas ideas interesantes o sugerencias. Tal vez tuu
    fueras capaz elaborar los proximos ensayos referentes a este post.
    Me encantaria leer mas cosas en relacion a este tema

  9. De seguro que este articulo ha sido repasado por la mayor parte
    de los usuarios, de la red ya que se trata de algo un atractivo comentario para lla creacion de actuales payinas web.

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