I’m the resident gamer in the company.  I enjoy video games and experience them in a unique way. I talk about this a bit in a previous article.


It’s unique because it’s me, not you. We may have parallels, but my reality bubble is not yours (and vice versa).  I’m pointing this out for those that want to generalize and say “That’s not what games are like for me.”  I will answer, ‘exactly, they are not.’  Some might agree with me, some may not. This makes no one right or wrong. That’s my disclaimer, because this is solely my opinion.

We all have ways to relieve the stress of our lives. For me, sometimes I like to use video games. It allows me a level of immersion where the world fades and Its nonsense and mindless and sometimes can touch you in ways that surprise. I like story, in fact, most games I play must have story. Also, I suck at platforms. seriously, Little Big Planet was embarrassing.

So far, I have over a hundred hours in Dragon Age, Inquisition (BioWare). I finished with one race and class, and now I am trying another. In doing so, I can say that, yes the game is mostly the same.  But, it also has a consistent story thread.  And there is this important experience for each choice you make, so choices matter. Some are small, but each choice has a meaning and there are consequences.  Which keeps you invested in the game.

Difference in Games

I also have a hundred hours in The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim (Bethesda Softworks), yet I have never finished the main story arc of the game.

Skyrim tries to immerse you, but in a completely different way. Borrowing heavily from its Fallout brethren, it uses a very similar combat system and animations. Now let me say for equal comparison, that Inquisition also borrows from its own siblings Mass Effect (BioWare). There are always parts that make you feel something in that moment.  In example, it was amusing to see Liara’s head tilt and sashay away in Inquisition.

Now I am not going to say one is better than the other.  Each game is different and a new experience, so its apples and oranges.  You can’t make a blanket statement like that.  Both, Skyrim and Inquisition are amazing games.  This is entirely about immersion.  It’s about ‘how did I fall into and interact with the world’.

How did they hold my attention and keep it?  

I played Skyrim first, and I had played a Fallout games already.  So, I was familiar with Bethesda style. The main storyline, frankly, reminded me of a lose/lose tale in Fallout New Vegas. Yet, even without a happy ending, it was an ending you could live with.

I was more caught up with the downloadable content (DLC). Specifically, I’m referring to the Dawnguard DLC.  This was far more immersive than the main game. 

What do I mean by that? 

I mean that the NPCs around you were fleshed out, they had history and interacted. Serena was a well-rounded NPC who inevitably, totally, friend-zones you.  

But, another character stands out from the main game.  What about Lydia?

Yeah sure, she is sworn to carry your burdens, but what else is there to this character? You can play alongside her almost the entire game and yet you know really nothing about her nor are there any interaction or meaningful dialogs. You can even marry her and turn her into a shop keeper with no store. It’s the same for all your companions.

I was left wanting more from the main game. (I also hated all the bards, but that’s for another time.) My immersion in the game came from moments of exploration and investigation.    I loved the open world and finding new places and things.  I really enjoyed the adventure. Emotionally though, Skyrim never touched me other than to annoy me, seriously, those stupid Bards and those damn chickens!  You could die from accidental chicken killing!  Who does that?!

How things differed

In contrast, Inquisition gave me goosebumps at times with the character interactions. Anyone who says they didn’t get some feels from the song, is kidding you. I guess I’m a big softie, I like the emotional touches that move the story along and connect you to it. I still remember where I was when Aeris died, but I can’t tell you what I did for my 21st birthday.  Admittedly, alcohol may have played a small part in that.

What does this all have to do with art? Everything!

Stories are art.  Being able to pull someone into a new world is wonderful. Having a story touch someone is the same as touching them with a beautiful picture, film, or music. Therefore, art can be everywhere and not just hung up on a wall in a museum. It is the very reason we must encourage creativity when and where we find it. 

This the principle Atomic Dumpling was founded on.  To create art in every possible form, to encourage it, and to help others with it.

Leigh-Alexandra Jacob is a visual effects artist and creative director who founded Atomic Dumpling.  You can reach her at leigh@atomicdumpling.com.