An interesting survey, thank you! Good luck with your work!
My thoughts about immersion, just in case. I’m mostly an “oldschool” gamer (shopping at GOG.com and finding stuff through Abandonia). The first game I’ve ever played by myself, on a PC, when I was about 14 years old, was that free first episode of Raven Software’s Heretic. It hardly ever gets any more stylised than this, it’s 2.5D, sprites and 256 colours. But to this day, it is the most immersive game I’ve ever played/seen others play. I guess it’s largely because of well-thought sound design as well.
If we compare two games from the TES franchise, Daggerfall and Oblivion, I find them equally immersive even though they look totally different (sprites & 256 colours vs. a capable Gamebryo-based engine) Though, I have to say, Oblivion had several major immersion-breaking drawbacks in its unmodded state: like, say, when you pick a flower, the flower mesh remains on the stem. It would have gone unnoticed in a sprite-based older game, but when you’re dealing with a world that wants to be photoreal, it’d rather behave realistically first and foremost. The way characters “teleport” from cell to cell, dissolving into thin air in front of a door that never animates as if being opened, totally bugs me as well. And the way fighting animations are done, with swords just moving through the enemies as if they were thin air, is also very unimpressive, compared to, say, Heretic II videos I’ve seen (and Oblivion is eight years younger than HII!) They may have fixed that for Skyrim, but I will not buy it for many many reasons (some of which I’ve expounded on in the survey =) )
Having said that, I’ve just bought Morrowind, and now I’m downloading mods like Better Bodies. I can live without bloom and HDR, but a human body should look like a human body, not like a corpse of an alien insect, especially if your game characters insist on being shirtless -behold the difference: http://planetelderscrolls.gamespy.com/fms/Image.php?id=34497 . Funny, given that Bethsoft’s older sprites look 3D-generated, yet have always been quite pretty =D Some examples below: