Muses – 1st vs 3rd Person

Which is “Better”, first or third person?

This is a pretty common argument I see on forums and hear among those I know, so I thought I’d take a moment and ramble on here in a muses post on the subject since it’s a pretty passionate one for a lot of people.

Now, I’m going to open by saying that I enjoy third person games more for a wide variety of reasons. I’ll even go so far as to say that I actually strongly dislike first person for other reasons altogether. I’ll quickly touch on my reasons here.

Why do I like Third Person games?

There’re a number of reasons, but there’re really 3 reasons that are most important to me.

  1. Controls: I find that controlling when using the over the shoulder or top views are more responsive, especially when dealing with jumping or melee combat.
  2. Viewpoint: I find that I have a better, and more immersive experience with the game when I’m able to see more of the environment – realism be damned! ;)
  3. Visual appeal: I like to see the character I’m playing in full. It helps me to understand the character and also helps me get a better feel for what is going on; thus making the game more immesive for me.

Why do I dislike First Person games?

Again, a number of reasons here, but there’re really only 2 that matter most to me.

  1. Immersion: I, personally, don’t find first person games immersive. I’ve never been sure why, but I just find myself feeling completely disconnected from the character and the experience when I play a first person game.
  2. Upset Stomach/Dizziness: I find that my stomach feels a little unsettled when I play first person games, especially when they involve jumping or falling. I also notice that if there is a lot of jumping, I get a bit dizzy.

So those are my reasons. If you’re like me, and prefer third person, chances are your reasons significantly differ from mine. And if you like first person, you may have the exact same reasons for liking first person that I have for liking third person: Controls, Liking the viewpoint, and immersion. In these arguments I hear the same points thrown back and forth, and people often don’t even realize they’re arguing a different opinion using the same reasons. One person likes third person for the controls, another likes first for them. One person likes first person for the immersion, another prefers to see the character like I do because it helps with that exact same thing. Some say that first person allows for scarier games, but then I see something like Dead Space 2 and wonder if that’s really so. Does that make one side right and the other side wrong?

No. And here’s the part people need to understand when arguing which is better. The real answer is neither. This, like the console war, and like the ‘sub vs dub’ debate of many anime fans, and like the voice vs text argument I hear still from time to time…. has no right answer. There is no winner.

This sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But you’d be surprised at how many people assume ‘what I prefer’ means ‘better’ and don’t realize that that isn’t the case at all. I’ve been guilty of that a time or two myself even and it’s a hard habit to break.


Now I’d like to end by making one small exception here.

The only argument that exists for one side that can’t also be said for the other is the medical argument. Certain medical conditions, such as inner ear imbalances, vertigo, etc. can make it unpleasant and if severe enough actually unsafe to play first person games.

But even that doesn’t make third person better or first person worse… but it does mean that it’s truly unfortunate that so many developers don’t design for both first and third to give people the choice. Because there’re a lot of really fantastic first person games out there that people with these medical conditions simply cannot experience due to the fact that they are just first person and they would get sick doing so.

This is why I’m always an advocate of choice. I wish more developers would give people the choice of first or third person. Because opening the game up to more audiences can’t possibly be a bad thing, can it?


Written by: Sean

Comments are closed.