The Legend of Zelda – Breath of the Wild: Engagement and Poetic Gameplay as Balance Between Immersion and Alienation in Videogames
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This research focuses on how the feelings of immersion and alienation are encouraged in the videogame The Legend of Zelda – Breath of the Wild. Different definitions of immersion and alienation are explored and explained to determine how they relate to each other and how they can sometimes co-exit through poetic gameplay and engagement. Specific parts of the case study are analyzed through a close reading to demonstrate how the game encourages immersion and alienation: how they are balanced in the game, what happens when they are both present at the same time, and how engagement and poetic gameplay can be considered as balance between them. The analysis focuses on specific parts of the game such as the menu, the map, the main fights and the use of memories and flashbacks in the game narrative. Immersion in videogames is different than in other media based on the interactivity and the other affordances that this medium has compared to other ones such as cinema. For this reason, Daniel Dunne, Gordon Calleja and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi are used to better understand how immersion works in the case of videogames and how it must be approached in this field. On the other hand, alienation is an essential part of videogames since their functioning requires alienating elements such as the menu, loadings and game overs. Dunne and Alex Mitchel discuss the fact that alienating elements indeed break the state of immersion but that at the same time when combined with other elements, they can create different forms of immersion mixed with alienation thus creating a new experience of playing videogames. It was also included the game style of the author in order to better understand the gameplay strategies and techniques that were used in approaching the game. Furthermore, game genre and gameplay are analyzed to better understand why this game is relevant for the analysis and how they can influence the gameplay.