Why are survival games generally not considered Immersive Sims?

An immersive sim (simulation) is a video game genre that emphasizes player choice. Its core, defining trait is the use of simulated systems that respond to a variety of player actions which, combined with a comparatively broad array of player abilities, allow the game to support varied and creative solutions to problems, as well as emergent gameplay beyond what has been explicitly designed by the developer...Immersive sims by definition allow for multiple approaches, and typically incorporate elements of multiple genres. --Wikipedia

You could copy and paste this definition from Wikipedia into a description of Survival games and no one would bat an eye, especially the emergent gameplay. Yet when games journalists write about immersive sims, they never consider survival games and only seem to talk about shooters. No game has more player choice or emergent gameplay than a survival game. Back when I played Minecraft, for instance, I used to use redstone snd various types of blocks to build huge contraptions to do a variety of things. For instance, I created a machine that if you tossed a chicken egg into it, it would start slowly producing cooked chicken (the egg would hatch, and that chicken would lay eggs which would get get sucked into a machine. The egg would travel to another machine that would shoot the egg at the ground--which is how you get an egg to hatch in Minecraft--and produce a baby chicken. Over the chicken's head was a fire, and when it grew up, it would catch on fire, die and be cooked. Another machine would then suck up the cooked chicken and put it in a chest). And the V Rising developer has a long post talking about all the emergent gameplay that they've seen from their players and how they are planning to add more systems to the game that will allow for even more unexpected results.

Survival games also incorporate elements from multiple genres. You can play Conan Exiles as a sort of Skyrim-like open world RPG if you want to. Obviously it's both an RPG and a sandbox, too, and has elements of horror and dungeon crawlers as well.

In fact, just going by the accepted definition of an Immersive Sim, a survival game is far more of an Immersive Sim than a game like Prey.

And I don't think the answer is as simple as saying that, well, a survival game isn't an immersive sim because it's a survival game instead because Prey, for instance, also is other genres, like FPS.

So what are your thoughts on this?
 
An immersive sim (simulation) is a video game genre that emphasizes player choice. Its core, defining trait is the use of simulated systems that respond to a variety of player actions which, combined with a comparatively broad array of player abilities, allow the game to support varied and creative solutions to problems, as well as emergent gameplay beyond what has been explicitly designed by the developer...Immersive sims by definition allow for multiple approaches, and typically incorporate elements of multiple genres. --Wikipedia

You could copy and paste this definition from Wikipedia into a description of Survival games and no one would bat an eye, especially the emergent gameplay. Yet when games journalists write about immersive sims, they never consider survival games and only seem to talk about shooters. No game has more player choice or emergent gameplay than a survival game. Back when I played Minecraft, for instance, I used to use redstone snd various types of blocks to build huge contraptions to do a variety of things. For instance, I created a machine that if you tossed a chicken egg into it, it would start slowly producing cooked chicken (the egg would hatch, and that chicken would lay eggs which would get get sucked into a machine. The egg would travel to another machine that would shoot the egg at the ground--which is how you get an egg to hatch in Minecraft--and produce a baby chicken. Over the chicken's head was a fire, and when it grew up, it would catch on fire, die and be cooked. Another machine would then suck up the cooked chicken and put it in a chest). And the V Rising developer has a long post talking about all the emergent gameplay that they've seen from their players and how they are planning to add more systems to the game that will allow for even more unexpected results.

Survival games also incorporate elements from multiple genres. You can play Conan Exiles as a sort of Skyrim-like open world RPG if you want to. Obviously it's both an RPG and a sandbox, too, and has elements of horror and dungeon crawlers as well.

In fact, just going by the accepted definition of an Immersive Sim, a survival game is far more of an Immersive Sim than a game like Prey.

And I don't think the answer is as simple as saying that, well, a survival game isn't an immersive sim because it's a survival game instead because Prey, for instance, also is other genres, like FPS.

So what are your thoughts on this?
In games I've played that I thought to be immersive sims (Deus Ex, Dishonored, Prey, Deathloop), usually the levels have defined hard borders and the idea is to traverse them performing tasks to unlock paths to progress.

There might be a dozen different paths to take, and a huge range of skills and tools you can choose to solve the obstacles stopping you from reaching the goal, but compared to an open world survival game its contained, with some bottlenecks that everyone has to go through no matter what. Levels are kind of 3d mazes, and there are goals to complete (locate, assassinate, steal, escape, hack the mainframe etc etc) before you can move on to the next part. You're making your way through a clearly defined story, hitting beats as you go.

Saying that, Wikipedia considers Oblivion and Fallout 3 to be immersive sims, which is not something I'd ever thought of before. I haven't considered any open world games as immersive sims, maybe that's just my perception, maybe its just a bad intro to the wiki, as all you say is true. Are all open world games that have multiple ways to progress and skill trees immersive sims of some sort, where's the line? :p

For me if you say immersive sim, I'm interested because I think of Arkanes games. Say survival game and I'm not all that bothered to look because I don't really care for sandbox playgrounds, at least at the moment.
 
Reading that Wiki definition, those criteria could fit many RPGs, such as the Dragon Age and Mass Effect games, and probably most survival games as well. No mention in that definition about how the game world is constructed, whether open world type, or the hard bordered level type as @Kaamos_Llama mentioned. I think the video game industry as a whole has a need to classify games into genres, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I really think the individual player's perception of a game is what really defines it.

For example, the Deus Ex games (I've only played the first 2 in the series), but I've always considered them to be RPGs, yet they are most often referred to as immersive sims, at least in today's gaming press. And if you consult the same Wiki for Deus Ex, they classify them as RPGs. Hardline definitions for many or most games are just too difficult to pin down with one or two words.

Wiki definition of the Deus Ex series:

Deus Ex is a series of role-playing video games, set during the 21st century, focusing on the conflict between secretive factions who wish to control the world by proxy, and the effects of transhumanistic attitudes and technologies in a dystopian future setting featuring references to real-world conspiracy theories, historical mythologies and philosophies and on commentaries of capitalist values and division in society. The first two games in the series were developed by Ion Storm, and subsequent entries were developed by Eidos-Montréal, following Ion Storm's closure. The Ion Storm games were published by Eidos Interactive, and all Eidos-Montréal media was published by Square Enix until 2022, when ownership was sold to Embracer Group.
The series consists of six games: Deus Ex (2000), Deus Ex: Invisible War (2003), Deus Ex: Human Revolution (2011), Deus Ex: The Fall (2013), Deus Ex Go (2016) and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (2016). The series has been generally well-received by critics and sold over 14 million units worldwide.
 
I don't really care for sandbox playgrounds...
...a huge range of skills and tools you can choose to solve the obstacles stopping you from reaching the goal...there are goals to complete (locate, assassinate, steal, escape, hack the mainframe etc etc) before you can move on to the next part. You're making your way through a clearly defined story, hitting beats as you go.
I may know how you feel. I'm very much the same way as far as traditional sandbox playgrounds. If I find a game that is like that (though they are very rare these days) my first question is usually "Is there a point to this game?" The reason I quoted your descriptors of immersive sims is because all of those things are also descriptors of most modern survival games. Most new survival games are more like an open-world RPGs than Minecraft. You probably still wouldn't like them, but they are very different from how they used to be.

Anyway, if Wikipedia's definition isn't too broad, there's just no way around survival games being immersive sims, but there may be a more restrictive definition out there.

A lot of these survival games are blurring lines in a lot of different ways these days and encompassing a lot of different genres.
 

Zloth

Community Contributor
"Immersive Sim" means having multiple paths to getting through obstacles based on skills. Furthermore, the game will eventually prevent you from solving problems in ways that you have not invested in. (IMHO)

But, in truth, "Immersive Sim" really means "Deus Ex-like." Survival games aren't much like Deus Ex, but Prey and Dishonored are. They can't keep calling it Deus Ex-like, though, because that game is 20+ years old so new players aren't going to have a clue what it means.

Have I mentioned lately that our genres are terrible?
 
our genres are terrible
Yeah, that's the conclusion I came to too. I mean, reading Zed's opening Wiki quote, I could go thru it phrase by phrase and match Civ4 to it quite easily.

I hadn't realized the meaning of sim in games had been divorced from its meaning otherwise—to use Wiki again:
"imitation of the operation of a real-world process or system over time"

Using the latter, I've dipped into a few Sims—eg PC Building Simulator and Euro Truck Simulator—and yeah, they're pretty decent simulations… as in, good at recreating the IRL experience.

Moving on to Wiki's page on Simulation video game, we get:
"Well-known examples are war games, business games, and role play simulation"
So maybe we should just go with another phrase from that page…
"a diverse super-category"
…and not get too concerned about which birds fit into pigeon holes. We've been there recently talking about retro and I don't believe we found a perch there either :)

Further down the page Zed linked, we get:
"typically incorporate elements of multiple genres, including role-playing games, stealth, first-person shooters, platform games and survival horror"
…so Survival is in there, albeit with the 'horror' rider.

I will now retire to my non-definitive Zen garden :)
 
"Immersive Sim" means having multiple paths to getting through obstacles based on skills. Furthermore, the game will eventually prevent you from solving problems in ways that you have not invested in. (IMHO)

But, in truth, "Immersive Sim" really means "Deus Ex-like." Survival games aren't much like Deus Ex, but Prey and Dishonored are. They can't keep calling it Deus Ex-like, though, because that game is 20+ years old so new players aren't going to have a clue what it means.

Have I mentioned lately that our genres are terrible?
Do you think the newer Deus Ex games are a lot different than the original?
 
Further down the page Zed linked, we get:
"typically incorporate elements of multiple genres, including role-playing games, stealth, first-person shooters, platform games and survival horror"
…so Survival is in there, albeit with the 'horror' rider.
Please don't get me started on Survival Horror. That's my biggest genre pet peeve. It has a very clear definition, and yet people misuse it constantly.

Meanwhile, I've decided that Immersive Sim should be a sub-category of Corridor Shooter.
 

Zloth

Community Contributor
Want some fun? Go to Steam's store, look under Categories, and select Adventure. Then try to figure out what the genre is based on the games you see.
I will now retire to my non-definitive Zen garden :)
While you're at it, try coming up with a new genre list! I've been trying to figure out something based more on the types of fun a game provides (creative, visceral, and so on) but I always want my genres to be too exact.
Do you think the newer Deus Ex games are a lot different than the original?
In genre-relevant ways? Not too much - though having that boss in the first new game that required brute force was a bad violation of what the genre was supposed to be about (and pretty bad gameplay, too).
 
I may know how you feel. I'm very much the same way as far as traditional sandbox playgrounds. If I find a game that is like that (though they are very rare these days) my first question is usually "Is there a point to this game?" The reason I quoted your descriptors of immersive sims is because all of those things are also descriptors of most modern survival games. Most new survival games are more like an open-world RPGs than Minecraft. You probably still wouldn't like them, but they are very different from how they used to be.

Anyway, if Wikipedia's definition isn't too broad, there's just no way around survival games being immersive sims, but there may be a more restrictive definition out there.

A lot of these survival games are blurring lines in a lot of different ways these days and encompassing a lot of different genres.
I much prefer most types of games if there's a campaign. Sometimes in 4x or Grand strategy it doesnt matter as much but for the most part I prefer to have some sense of progress or direction, at least to start with. That said there may be some open world survival games I would enjoy, maybe I just havent tried one yet.

I think genre lines are only going to blur more as time goes on, its already at the stage where games are described as having this games combat with that games exploration with the atmosphere and art style of some other game and so on. I'm in the 'its not that important' camp anyway.

Please don't get me started on Survival Horror. That's my biggest genre pet peeve. It has a very clear definition, and yet people misuse it constantly.

Meanwhile, I've decided that Immersive Sim should be a sub-category of Corridor Shooter.
Every game with at least one gun and a first person view is just a Doom clone when you get down to it.

What do you think Survival horror is then? Lets have it :D
 
"Immersive Sim" means having multiple paths to getting through obstacles based on skills. Furthermore, the game will eventually prevent you from solving problems in ways that you have not invested in. (IMHO)

But, in truth, "Immersive Sim" really means "Deus Ex-like." Survival games aren't much like Deus Ex, but Prey and Dishonored are. They can't keep calling it Deus Ex-like, though, because that game is 20+ years old so new players aren't going to have a clue what it means.

Have I mentioned lately that our genres are terrible?
I think it does work a lot better to compare games to other games than to try to describe them with genres.

It seems game genres have become too broad to really work in part because they have been reduced to describing only a single or very narrow set of game mechanics. Like how rogue-like nowadays just means a game has perma-death, regardless of whether it has any of the other systems of the original Rogue game. Though some genres encompass way too many game mechanics to the point where two games can be described as being the same genre despite having almost no overlap in mechanics.
 

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