Having a large a lot of peripherals for you gaming set up, console or pc, helps build senses of immersion into your gaming experience. Your plastic guitars and tennis racket molds help shape the perception of what you’re playing, helps creating the illusion of the rock star or tennis pro.
But for games where the peripheral isn’t as obvious, what are the things that can be done to construct a better experience of a game?
For myself, the biggest asset in my collection is a 5.1 sound system. Having a game’s environment completely envelop one of your senses to a more realistic degree help dissolve the wall between virtual and reality. Actually, that’s the intention of most peripherals. Giving your body extra information to help it believe the reality that you’re perceiving. In the case of my 5.1 sound system, when the sound design is of a master class, which it tends to be for adventure games or suspense games, then the sound system makes it more believable to be in the perceived environment.
Take a game like Bioshock or Amnesia. You’re wandering around through rooms and corridors while the atmosphere of the game builds itself around you. The distant drop of a book from a few rooms over on your left, the patter of footsteps from just behind you, the looming tension as you gaze into a small brightness through a darkened opening. All of these are accentuated when the sound-mood matches the direction of intent. By this, I mean that the mood that you feel from the sounds that are meant to illicit them (sound-mood) are generated from the from the correct location (direction of intent).
When explosions are going off all around, bullets whizzing by, people are talking and making their one liner death screams or some main character is making a quip about the person they just shot down, then the direction of intent is a new level of information that the player can use to assess the surroundings which helps the immersive process take place. These auditory cues help to build a better idea of their surroundings aside from just the visuals. Water splashing from a falling footstep, bullet-shells falling to the floor, bricks being blown and crashing onto adjacent walls, tables and body parts. All of these sounds help build an understanding of realism. Being able to discern what these things are and have a relatively accurate interpretation of what’s going on and where with nothing but sound helps make the player feel like a more active part of the conflict that they are controlling.
Instead of just telling someone where to go from a camera, you’re behind them telling the character what to do.
Are there any other sorts of non-obvious peripherals that a gamer can pick up to help broaden their experience in a game?