The Power of Belief


The traditional suspension of disbelief does not cover all the different aspects of a game. In addition, the abstract notion of the suspension of disbelief needs to be taken into consideration, since games are not merely about contexts and narratives. The importance of this is very clear: fictional worlds and believable systems are what sell games these days. And the commercial industry is simply not putting enough thought into this theory. “We talk a lot about immersion and suspension of disbelief in the game industry, but we seldom actually try to define it or to understand how it works” (Adams, 2004). I have made an attempt to clarify some elements that might inspire a better understanding of the suspension of disbelief.



However, I think it is required to look more closely at how this new notion of suspension of disbelief could help to create a more meaningful experience for the player. For instance, the relation between suspension of disbelief, immersion and player experience would be one of the subjects of interests. As well as how the abstract and theatrical suspension of disbelief complement each other. I can only conclude that these two notions raise many questions that can simply not be answered in this short essay, but will be a subject of further research.


On a last note, I would also like to point out that games have the potential to convey important, interesting and meaningful messages. If the suspension of disbelief would be further studied by game designers they could create more immersive and significant experiences. Their games might have a greater impact on the player, not only as a commercial product, but also as an art form. Tolkien states that when a believable fictional world is created “we have a rare achievement of Art” (n.d.). If games would be viewed in this manner, as a creative process that involves time and consideration – instead of the commercial manner that views them as another product to put on the shelves and sell – we would possibly create something as meaningful as art.


Sniderman is apparently convinced that games have potential, since he believes that games, even through their rule system, can provide meaningful insights to real life issues. Atkins (2003) also briefly mentions the potential that games have and why they thus far have not reach that potential:


If anything, in their variety and plurality they insist that we recognise that the game-fiction is a diverse cultural product, still emerging blinking into the light, but with the potential to develop into something significant as a form of narrative delivery that is currently restricted in its achievements not so much by the available technology but by the creative input of its designers. (p. 150)


Games are different from other art forms, but still have the ability to create meaningful experiences, yet they are in no way used to their full potential. One of the explanations for this could be that the industry does not stop to think about these theories and that there are no game critics with the vocabulary to tell them otherwise. This redefinition of the suspension of disbelief has hopefully contributed to the understanding of this theory.


Want to read the entire essay? Click HERE.

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  • Comments (2)
  1. Nice writing style. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Chris Moran

  2. Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation :) Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Imprecation!!

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