Have Yourself A Very Immersive Christmas

SantaAre there any children in the room? If so, send them out. I am something sensitive to discuss. Don’t worry, I’ll wait”

Are we in the clear? Okay, here we go.

I was about ten years old when my mother told me there was no Santa Claus. Of course, I began to figure it out long before then. As I listened to the radio for reports of Santa’s progress on Christmas Eve, I would try to calculate how many houses he would need to visit per hour in order to deliver all of his presents in one night. I didn’t see how that could be possible; he could only be in each home for the tiniest of fractions of a second. Still, I was angry at my mom when she told me there was no Santa Claus.

You see, I loved Christmas, and I still do — the presents, the decorations, the songs, the food, the stories. The season would begin with us kids pouring over the Sears Catalog, picking out the gifts we would request from Santa when we visited him in the mall. My mother painted images of Santa, his sleigh, and reindeer onto wood panels that my dad cut out and placed on our front lawn. My youngest brother would dress up as Santa, and I decorated one of the bedrooms as his workshop so we could act out all the Christmas preparations. And when Christmas Eve came, my family didn’t have the patience to wait for morning, and so my dad would take us kids somewhere in the early evening, and when we returned, we’d discover that Santa had just visited our house just moments before. As proof of Santa’s visit, my dad would discover the next morning a roof tile that Rudolf had evidently dislodged when the sleigh landed.

It was all so much fun that as I developed the cognitive ability to figure out the incompatibility between Santa Clause and the real world, I willingly suspected my disbelief to immerse myself into the fantasy behind Christmas.

Immersion is an important tool for game designers, and we need our players to willingly suspend their disbelief. Games are built upon rules and mechanics that can seem like work, as well as art and audio that are imperfect representations of reality. Without immersion, there would be no fun, which is an essential element of games.

As Christmas comes upon us, and we deal with all the work required by the holiday preparations and the inevitable imperfections to the celebrations, I hope that you will be able to immerse yourself into the fantasy of Christmas and end the year having a fun time.



About David Mullich

I am a video game producer who has worked at Activision, Disney, Cyberdreams, EduWare, The 3DO Company and the Spin Master toy company. I am currently a game design and production consultant, a game design instructor at ArtCenter College of Design, and co-creator of the Boy Scouts of America Game Design Merit Badge. At the 2014 Gamification World Congress in Barcelona, I was rated the 14th ranking "Gamification Guru" in social media.

Posted on December 22, 2014, in Game Design. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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