It’s every boy’s dream to feel like an action hero. Possibly every girl’s dream as well. When you watch a film or a cartoon featuring your favourite heroes – Batman, for example – you can’t help but feel like you are part of the action. When you play Batman games, or any game featuring superheroes, you really are a part of the action.
Obviously the games that make you feel most like the hero of your dreams are the ones where you get to do the stuff that the hero does in the cartoons and the comics. So while Batman virtual pinball is hardly going to cut the mustard (though you will still be more likely to choose Batman pinball than some other kind, if Batman is your hero of choice), a game where you get to patrol the streets of Gotham and bring down the justice of the night, is.
There are a range of Batman games available to play online – some based on existing cartoons, some on the newer films and some simply using the character. In most cases, Batman games combine elements of puzzle solving with adventure, action and fighting. Online versions might allow you to pit your wits against other players as well as against the villains the game designer has created for you.
There is a close communication between the escapism of cartoons and comics, and the colourful world of online gaming. In both cases, part of the attraction lies in the immersion of the viewer of gamer in another world – be that world zany to the max, like the world of Adventure Time; or dark and compelling, like the Gotham of Batman. In either case, and in all others, the mainstay of the medium’s joy remains the same: while you watch or read, you get to feel that you are a resident of Gotham, perhaps Bruce Wayne himself. The towers and streets look and feel real. The threats faced by the Caped Crusader were never more dire.
So in some ways, for an online action game to make you feel like Batman, the atmosphere behind the game is to really feel like Gotham. This is broadly true for all super hero cartoons and games, possible for all cartoons and the games based on them: where the world itself is part of the reason for your watching, you have to be able to feel that world through the game you are playing.
An initial response to this might be “but modern online games rely on gameplay, not on fancy graphics”. This is of course true. The multiple demands of different gaming platforms require than online games be low on data and processing requirements, and high on gameplay and fun.
You have only to invoke the Holy Grail of all gaming though – Super Mario – to prove that a distinct, individualistic world can be created with just a few blocky pixels. So the answer, one supposes, is that playing Batman games can make you feel like Batman provided the right attention has gone into every aspect of the game’s makeup.