Sunday, 28 June 2015

First person VS Third person. Absolute Rubbish.

Most every gamer (hard core or no) has a preference as to what perspective they like to play in. If you’ve ever had the pleasure (or misfortune) of getting into a heated debate about First person VS Third person you will most likely know the point on both sides of the argument. If you haven’t, I’ve scoured the internet to find the best points behind either side of this debate. More often than not, First person is considered the ‘winner’ in these arguments as it’s found that players experience more immersion while playing in first person. The reasoning behind this is that players can easily see themselves as the /sympathize with the protagonist, as they are seeing things from the protagonist’s perspective. This sense of immersion seems to be a big deal for those who play in first person.
On the other hand, people who defend the Third person perspective move away from the ‘immersion’ route to a more ‘empathetic’ route. People who prefer to play Third person will empathize more with the protagonist, as they can see what’s happening to them and can react accordingly to those events.
Aside from theses points there are also mechanic reasons that affect what people prefer. And these reasons are a much better discussion point for me to write about. It is extremely hard to find discussions about these aspects of the debate, as in-depth as those discussions you can so very easily find about the previous points. Everyone and their mother seems to have written about weather emersion or empathy is better and guess what, it’s a personal preference. Neither is better than the other. So moving on.
Looking at the mechanic side of things, it boils down to what the game needs in order to play well and its genre. A developer won’t chose a camera perspective that will interfere with gameplay simply because it will give the player move emersion etc. (a bad developer might do this) For example, a developer making a fighting game (Mortal Kombat, Tekken, Street Fighter) won’t chose either a first or third person perspective as this would interfere with game-play mechanics. Going in for a grab, measuring distance from the other player or even seeing what the other player is doing, would be hindered in either perspective.
Along with developer choice and game-play mechanics as a first priority, developers can also look at the benefits and disadvantages both perspectives bring.
A First person perspective brings about more challenge to a player. While you can argue that having the more limited view is a bad thing, however in “First person shooters” (haha there’s a reason they’re called that) this limited view allows for better accuracy when aiming, even Third person game often go into First person when offering the use of firearms etc. This limited view can also force player to use the mechanics that developer has implemented into the game, for example the ‘hide and peek’ mechanic must be used to look around or over objects. These points can be seen as disadvantages however depending on what the game needs to play well.
When a game requires more of an objective view point where your characters abilities or ‘non- player team’ are more of a focus then a Third person perspective would be better for it. The Third person perspective eliminates the need for any player specific mechanics such as the ‘hide and peek’ mechanic. This allows for more focus on player abilities and the like, often seen in RPG games.

There are a lot more mechanics that go along with both perspectives and the ‘immersion VS empathy’ debate is still valid when developers chose witch perspective to take. However, when it gets down to it, any camera perspective has its benefits and downfalls and what really matter is matching them up with what the game needs in order to bring the player the best experience that game can give. 

Read about a psychological perspective on this matter

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