Why is it always a first person shooter?

One of the things that has come from the thought I have put into my project (full details to come shortly) into educational applications of FPS style games has been a real belief that first person perspective gaming is a richer experience than third person. This has raised a few questions for me.

Chief among these questions is that of why there isn’t more variety in terms of first person perspective gameplay? Puzzle games have it in that it is you interacting with the puzzle elements on the screen rather than via the agency of your avatar however this isn’t so far removed from simply doing a real puzzle that is sitting on the table in front you.

I know that whenever I play a first person shooter (and even moreso when I am playing other people rather than the computer A.I) I have a more intense emotional experience than when I play any other game. The feelings of fear, excitement and joy are richer in these games than any games that involve controlling an avatar, regardless of how good those games might be.

If I can have that level of emotional involvement in a shooting game, why shouldn’t I have it in other gaming experiences. Most importantly of all, why shouldn’t I be able to have these richly emotional experiences when I am learning something. The technology is clearly available so what is the problem? We live our lives in a first person perspective and if we benefit from making our learning experiences as authentic as possible, surely learning in first person perspective games is more authentic than any other game type.

Then again, perhaps this is exactly the problem. Playing a third person perspective game can ultimately be seen as a glorified form of playing with toys or dolls. We are able to do more with our avatar in them and we have more power over them, which may provide us with more of an escape from reality.

I recognise that driving games and flight simulations also offer first person perspective gameplay however they don’t allow the player to interact with objects and characters in the game environment on more than a superficial level and as such are a different kettle of fish. (And I rarely play driving games in anything other than 3PP for the aforementioned reasons of better control.

Is first person perspective too intense for us? Why aren’t there non-shooting first person games?

Why?

This entry was posted in first person learner, first person perspective, first person shooter, fps and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Why is it always a first person shooter?

  1. Leonard Low says:

    To me, the fundamental difference between a first-person and third-person game is in the sense of environmental awareness. A first-person game tends to have many of the same features as a third-person one: things like status bars and other “heads up” data on the screen. But a third-person perspective often allows for a wider “field” of vision: pulled back from the character, we can see what’s in the immediate vicinity without having to turn the avatar around. This is, to me, a *better* representation of reality than a first-person perspective, because in real life we tend to be quite aware of what’s going on in our periphery though our sense of hearing as well as natural movement of the head.

    A first-person perspective limits the user’s peripheral awareness to a 30-degree wedge of vision, which is okay for shooting at things but not quite as good for exploring and interacting with rich environments. The encumbered field of vision becomes even more problematic when attempting to interact with objects that are very close: the corner of a brick wall in front of a first-person shooter, for example, can obscure the majority of the user’s screen, whereas in a third-person perspective the same corner just becomes part of the overall environment to be considered. FPS games are a bit like living with binoculars/sniper scopes taped to your eyeballs. 🙂

  2. Michael says:

    Well, luckily, since it has now been 4 years since this article was written up, there has been quite a large mass of really popular first person games that have little to no shooting and focus more on the puzzles and atmosphere of the environment the character is in. Examples such as Portal 1 and 2; the Penumbra series and Amnesia: The Dark Descent are great examples of games using the first person perspective to create an engaging and immersive environment for the player without any use of the cliche “First Person is for FPS only”

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