Using Atmosphere As A Story Device (in Game Development, think “Heavy Rain,” “Demon Souls,” “Bioshock,” etc)

There are a number of factors that can go towards making a video game enjoyable, but the one aspect that can often set a game apart from the crowd is atmosphere. When done skillfully, a video game can draw gamers into its world and create a unique sense of immersion. Take the Resident Evil series, for example. Though shooter and action style games, in general, are nothing unique, what has set the Resident Evil games apart were the use of building tension and a sense of imminent danger. A subtle combination of tasteful music, believable sound effects, artistic level design, and other smaller, seemingly less significant factors work together to create, for the gamer, a sense of cohesion and significance in the game’s world. This heightens the emotional involvement for the gamer and makes for truly unique and memorable gaming experiences. Some of the most critically acclaimed games from recent memory, such as Bioshock, Heavy Rain, and Mass Effect, have all made great use of atmosphere to create a game universe with a story that became emotionally relevant to gamers. For many, games that artfully evoke a aura of dread, for example, become the most enjoyable and significant gaming experiences.

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