Week 1: Video Game Plausibility

Cover Image:  http://www.thelastofus.playstation.com

Will Freeman’s article:  Video games have to be plausible if you want to suspend disbelief 

Immersion, also known as spatial presence, can be described as the effect on players when they experience ‘being spatially located in the mediated environment’ leading to the contents of the game being ‘perceived as real’ (Madigan, 2010).  Many video games become successful due to their realism and player immersion which is established through factors such as character appearance and movement, historic parallels and logically consistent gameplay (Litty, 2016).  Strong plot and story, consistent behaviours of characters and objects, and interactive environments also aid in the facilitation of immersion (Madigan, 2010), with games that succeed in creating a compelling and realistic experience having a greater impact on the attitudes and behaviours of players (Ribbens and Malliet, 2010).

The Last of Us combined science with fiction to create a story that gave plausibility to the apocalyptic aspect of the game (Serrels, 2012), through the inclusion of the real Cordyceps fungus which infects and takes control of the behaviour of insects (Hughes, 2015).  Further drawing inspiration from the science of the fungus, mutated humans in the game called ‘clickers’ are forced into dark, secluded areas by the Cordyceps where the infected human finally dies allowing the spores to escape from the corpse to create further infection throughout the world in the game (Hill, 2013).

This threat caused by the elements of realism within The Last of Us allow the player to take on a sense of fear of the fungus as their sub-conscious reacts to depictions of terror that echo reality (Serrels, 2013).  This in turn allows survival games become successful when the players feel a sense of fear, panic and desperation through the character they are playing (Bromley, 2012).



Bromley, J. (2012). Why The Last of Us could be the greatest survival game ever made. [online] PostDesk. Available at: http://archive.postdesk.com/the-last-of-us-horror-e3-realism [Accessed 6 Oct. 2016].

Hill, K. (2013). The Fungus that Reduced Humanity to The Last of Us. [online] Scientific American Blog Network. Available at: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/but-not-simpler/the-fungus-that-reduced-humanity-to-the-last-of-us/ [Accessed 6 Oct. 2016].

Hughes, S. (2015). Get real: Narrative and gameplay in The Last of Us. Journal of Comparative Research in Anthropology and Sociology, [online] 6(1), pp.149 – 151. Available at: http://compaso.eu [Accessed 29 Sep. 2016].

Litty, J. (2016). How Real is Too Real for the Law? Realism versus Right of Publicity in Video Game Design. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 60(3), p.373.

Madigan, J. (2010). The Psychology of Immersion in Video Games. [online] The Psychology of Video Games. Available at: http://www.psychologyofgames.com/2010/07/the-psychology-of-immersion-in-video-games/ [Accessed 5 Oct. 2016].

Ribbens, W. and Malliet, S. (2010). Perceived Digital Game Realism: A Quantitative Exploration of its Structure. Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments, 19(6), pp.588 – 589.

Serrels, M. (2013). Why The Last Of Us Is Nothing To Sneeze At. [online] Kotaku.com.au. Available at: http://www.kotaku.com.au/2013/06/why-the-last-of-us-is-nothing-to-sneeze-at/ [Accessed 6 Oct. 2016].


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