The Future of Entertainment: Is Total Immersion the Ultimate Goal?

By  //  September 3, 2022

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Is the future of entertainment a state of total immersion? Fans of the British sci-fi comedy Red Dwarf will already know the answer to this. For those that aren’t tapped into TV shows from the 80s and 90s, the premise of Red Dwarf was fairly easy to grasp. The show followed a group of hapless space explorers trying to find their way back to earth.

For this to work, everything took place in the future. As such, the writers were constantly finding new takes on classic ideas. 

Video games were famously given a futuristic makeover in the classic episode, Better than Life. As you can see in the clip above, the characters plugged themselves into something known as a total immersion video game. These games were loosely based on virtual reality (VR), which was little more than a rudimentary technology when the episode first aired in 1998. However, unlike VR, the game was indistinguishable from real life. Every aspect of these games looked real, even if it wasn’t. 

Better than Life was a total immersion video game that allowed players to life out their fantasy lives. The comedy comes when Rimmer’s brain rebels. Those who enjoy sci-fi comedies will find the episode extremely entertaining, but what’s most interesting about it is the fact it predicts the future of gaming. While we may be a few decades away from total immersion games, it’s clear we’re moving in that direction. Virtual reality is the obvious example of this trend. 

Moving Towards Total Immersion

Beyond games, this technology is being used for a variety of purposes, including virtual tours. Today, anyone with a headset can virtually walk around the Statue of Liberty, thanks to VisEngine technology. However, even before you assess advances in VR technology, it’s possible to reel back and see the progression of immersion within gaming.

Take, for example, online casinos. Regulated online casino PlayStar features more than a dozen live dealer games. Utilizing webcams and RFID technology, these games allow online players to connect with human dealers. Standard digital online casino games use random number generators to produce results. Live dealer tables play out in real-time like they would in a land-based casino. 

Source: Pixabay

Between this and the fact you can chat with the dealer, the games are more immersive. Of course, they’re not as immersive as virtual reality, but they’re a step in that direction. Players are being shown something other than digital animations. What’s more, it’s an interactive setting where everyone has a role to play.

This, again, adds an element of immersion. Therefore, from this, the leap towards total immersion is much smaller. We’re not going from a place where all games were behind the fourth wall. Players don’t have to sit on the outside and observe the action from afar. They can participate in it. They can break through the fourth wall and step into the action. Immersion has long been the goal of game developers. 

Live dealer innovations are an example of that, and now we’re marching towards even deeper levels of engagement. Virtual reality games such as Beat Saber are pushing the boundaries but that’s just the start. With the metaverse taking shape and companies such as Facebook (now Meta) striving to make digital life mirror the real world, our online experiences are going to become evermore engrossing. So, when the writers of Red Dwarf imagined total immersion video games, it seems they were decades ahead of their time