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Archive => RPG Theory => Topic started by: JMendes on October 01, 2002, 09:17:25 AM



Title: Feeble attempt at defining immersion
Post by: JMendes on October 01, 2002, 09:17:25 AM
Ahoy, :)

I'm bringing this over from the Site Discussion forum, specifically the thread on the forge vocab.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
What about the even more problematic ones like Immersion <...>


The following is a piece of formal discussion on the subject of defining interactive fiction, in rec.games.int-fiction. It may or may not be applicable to the discussion, so take it with a grain of salt. (For those who don't know, interactive fiction generally applies to text adventure computer games.)


[Andrew Plotkin's definition of interactive fiction modified by me]
> A program which reveals a story (or related stories), created by an
> author (or authors), to a player (or players); such that

the player may be reasonably expected to achieve a frame of mind in which

> the range of available action is only partially known and
> must be understood in terms of the story world; and such that the
> majority of important results of the player's actions are unique
> results, specifically created by the author to support that part of
> the story which the player is experiencing.

[I then proceeded to] formally define
the aforementioned frame of mind as 'immersion'.
[End r.a.i-f quote]

My poin, one could define immersion as 'a player frame of mind in which the total range of options available is completely understandable by the character in terms of the story world'.

This definition was good enough for text adventure games but has some drawbacks for RPGs. The main drawback of this definition is that it tends to exclude some metagame considerations. (For instance, in L5R, spending void points is always an OOC decision, with the PC usually surprised at their own performance.)

Anyway, it might make a starting point, so I thought I'd quote that. :) Ignore at will.

Cheers,

J.


Title: Feeble attempt at defining immersion
Post by: Ron Edwards on October 01, 2002, 10:19:49 AM
Hi there,

Good reference. I've found, however, that people bring definitions of "immersion" to discussions without wanting to determine a definition for the purposes of that discussion - and they get very upset, surprisingly so, when others have different definitions.

Here are some examples.

1) Just as you describe, which is pretty close to what I call Actor Stance in my essay.

2) As #1 but with a very strong Explorative (imaginative) element of identification, such that the role-player is feeling very much as the character feels.

3) A strong commitment to the imaginative content of play in any fashion at all, including goals of play or in-or-out of character, or whatever.

4) Being emotionally engaged and excited by play of whatever description that person most enjoys.

I have a lot of private emails people send me about the way that I "dismiss" immersion in my essay, often with very angry and defensive evidence that "it exists," always describing one of the above four things. Since these things are definitely not the same, and since the emotional commitment to the given person's definition seems to be so high ... well, my take is that we're better off deconstructing the issue into independent parts that address anything substantive, and leaving the term to evaporate slowly, if possible.

But that's my take. Anyone else?

Best,
Ron


Title: Feeble attempt at defining immersion
Post by: Valamir on October 01, 2002, 11:12:50 AM
I understand your reasoning Ron, but GNS has hardly shirked from usurping vocabulary for its own nefarious ends before ;-)

It seems to me that the best use for the term in GNS is to describe a phenomenon that exists that isn't already accounted for.

For instance if #1 is "Actor Stance" than the response to a person who gets bent out of shape is simply to say "oh, we call that 'actor stance' here" and move on.

I think #3 and #4 can be dealt with similiarly.  I would then use Immersion to describe a stance that is exclusively Actor, exclusively in character, and attempts to avoid or ignore meta game.

If people have a problem with that...well...some people have a problem with the way the model uses the term Simulation...but I've gotten over that...mostly...


Title: Feeble attempt at defining immersion
Post by: Marco on October 01, 2002, 11:34:30 AM
A quick search on Immersion as to how it relates to literature turned up this:

Quote

Poetics of immersion
Three forms of textual immersion are distinguished and discussed in two chapters. 1. Spatial: the reader develops a sense of place, a sense of being on the scene of the narrated events. 2.Temporal : the experience of a reader caught up in narrative suspense, the burning desire to know what happens next. 3. Emotional : the phenomenon of developing a personal attachment to the characters, of participating in their human experience. Narrative techniques are evaluated in terms of their ability to promote these various types of immersion, and immersivity is shown to be more important to the effect of literary realism than the life-likeness of the fictional world.


That works pretty well for me. I read the GNS essay and while I consider some of it to be pretty close to flamebait (albeit unintentionally on Ron's part), I didn't see anything denying the existence of Immersion in it. The section I found just said "it's probably pretty close to actor stance" which I agree with.

I do recall a thread aroudn here saying something like 'Suspension of Disbelief does not exists', which I think pretty much *was* semantic-flamebait (i.e. whatever was being said wasn't arguing that people don't "get lost in a book.")

Finally, so long as Immersion is defined *somewhere* very clearly and it is noted that the definition is NOT intended to be universal but rather ("there are many competing views, this is the one that we've chosen for this board") then it's gotta work. It's better than having no real working definition or worse, a stated one that is at odds with its common use (what does Drift mean, exactly? The printed definition only applies to shifts during play).

-Marco
[I think that a concise definition of terms is not only a good idea, I think it's really just about necessary for discussions on The Forge.]


Title: Feeble attempt at defining immersion
Post by: Wart on October 01, 2002, 11:34:35 AM
Quote from: Ron Edwards
2) As #1 but with a very strong Explorative (imaginative) element of identification, such that the role-player is feeling very much as the character feels.


This seems closest to what many people speak of as immersion - especially that state called "deep immersion", where this identification is so strong that OOC concerns are not only ignored - they're driven right out of the player's mind, and that extra-deep form of immersion where (it is claimed by those who believe in it) the player's thoughts and character's thoughts are one (with the occasional obvious exception - the character isn't thinking about dierolling!). So I'd be inclined to give the "immersion" label to this one, if any.


Title: Feeble attempt at defining immersion
Post by: Valamir on October 01, 2002, 11:52:18 AM
Yeah, that works for me.

Marco, those three items in the defintion you found seem to apply equally to Roleplaying and the determined pursuit of those three things leads to phenominon Wart describes, which is what I've always felt Immersion to mean.

I think the problem with defining Immersion is opposite of the problem with some other definitions.  Some times a word has a perjorative sense to it (like "incoherent") such that when it gets used to describe something people get riled up thinking they've been insulted (when really the actual definition of incoherent is completely innocuous).

Immersive on the other hand is seemingly anti-perjorative (is there a word for that...) in that EVERYONE (hyperbole alert) likes to think that what they do is Immersive and so you have different people trying to "lay claim" to the word.


Title: Feeble attempt at defining immersion
Post by: Marco on October 01, 2002, 12:10:42 PM
Val,

I think I agree--there's never been a real problem with taking a word and finding a "good fit" (which I think our definition does). I was surprised to find Immersion in the problem list. I doubt many of the people who complained would find themselves offened with the general definition we have here (they might *disagree* but I doubt it'd be angry). The problem comes in when:

a) a term is made up and winds up being loosely explained.
b) a term which is in general use or a phrase that seems self-evident (creation of story) gets defined narrowly to mean something different than what a reader would think.

A set of definitions--especially one that makes an attempt to speak to those who are approaching it for the first time--is necessary to get anywhere with this sort of discourse.

-Marco
[ Incoherent wouldn't be my word of choice for anything non-pejorative having to do with a document. It's fine for light. Fine for sound. Not good for attempts at communication. ]


Title: Feeble attempt at defining immersion
Post by: Merten on October 01, 2002, 12:48:35 PM
Quote from: Wart
Quote from: Ron Edwards
2) As #1 but with a very strong Explorative (imaginative) element of identification, such that the role-player is feeling very much as the character feels.


This seems closest to what many people speak of as immersion - especially that state called "deep immersion", where this identification is so strong that OOC concerns are not only ignored - they're driven right out of the player's mind, and that extra-deep form of immersion where (it is claimed by those who believe in it) the player's thoughts and character's thoughts are one (with the occasional obvious exception - the character isn't thinking about dierolling!). So I'd be inclined to give the "immersion" label to this one, if any.


This would be close to my opinion and experiences as well. Immersion is about thinking like the character does, feeling like the character does, and behaving like the character would behave - and, in some sense, trying to forget that you're in a game and just trying to act like the character you've been given. Dierolling, stepping out of character and such things tend to break the immersion and drag you out of it.

So, yeah, identification seems to be a key issue, at least from my point of view.

I think one of the elements which "immersion" needs is one's familiriaty with the character and the historical, social and whattanot context's in where the character exists. Personally, I find it easier to "immerse" into a character who lives in a modern day world and in context with which I'm familiar with.


Title: Feeble attempt at defining immersion
Post by: Valamir on October 01, 2002, 01:42:14 PM
Quote from: Marco
[ Incoherent wouldn't be my word of choice for anything non-pejorative having to do with a document. It's fine for light. Fine for sound. Not good for attempts at communication. ]


Unfortuneately, IMO.  Incoherent has acquired the same sort of negative connotations as the word "Ignorant".  A perfectly fine desciptive word when used accurately, that has so often been used as a form of insult, that people just assume any use of the term is meant as an insult.

My personal preference is to not bow to the butchery of language in this way, and require people to actually invest in a good dictionary.


Title: Feeble attempt at defining immersion
Post by: JMendes on October 01, 2002, 04:39:21 PM
Hail, ho, :)

Quote from: Ron Edwards
1) Just as you describe, which is pretty close to what I call Actor Stance in my essay.

2) As #1 but with a very strong Explorative (imaginative) element of identification, such that the role-player is feeling very much as the character feels.


Hmm... Yes, in reading the above, I can't help but agree with #2 more strongly than #1. So, to rephrase:

Immersion: a player frame of mind in which, by virtue of totally identifying with the played character on an emotional and intellectual level, the total range of options available becomes completely understandable by the character in terms of the story world.

Modifications welcome. The main drawback, of course, continues to be that this is only completely achievable in Drama-based simulationist play.

Quote
3) A strong commitment to the imaginative content of play in any fashion at all, including goals of play or in-or-out of character, or whatever.


Hmmm... Yes, this of course is also perfectly valid. Actually, if I understand correctly, it is just a variation of the above, taking into account a number of additional factors.

In fact, I now want to call the previous definition 'full character immersion' and this one 'game play immersion'.

Quote
4) Being emotionally engaged and excited by play of whatever description that person most enjoys.


Nah. I call this one just 'having fun'. ;)

Cheers,

J.


Title: Feeble attempt at defining immersion
Post by: contracycle on October 02, 2002, 03:25:08 AM
If I were given free reign, my description of Immersion would be: a trance state which essentially places the subject into a suggestible fram of mind.  I don;t thibnk there is such a thing as "vanilla immersion" - I think f it as either on or off.  It doers not happen in all games or sessions, IME; but individual sessions can be closer or further.


Title: Feeble attempt at defining immersion
Post by: Wart on October 02, 2002, 06:17:10 AM
Quote from: contracycle
If I were given free reign, my description of Immersion would be: a trance state which essentially places the subject into a suggestible fram of mind.


That sound a bit too much like hypnotism.

Whilst many people may find it helpful (perhaps even necessary) to enter a pseudo-hypnotic state to play immersively, it's by no means an absolute necessity.


Title: Feeble attempt at defining immersion
Post by: Ron Edwards on October 02, 2002, 06:22:28 AM
J,

I'm not sure I'm making my point in this thread, so far. It is that we can all arrive at a happy ten-man consensus about the definition of "immersion" and it wouldn't matter. A person who defines it as my #4 is not going to budge; to him, we would be wrong, deluded, and very probably bad role-players. He then excludes himself from any discussion with such unsuitable characters (and perceives himself as excluded by us, incidentally).

I am basing this claim on multiple emails regarding my essay - people really care about this term and won't listen easily to alternate perceptions. That phenomenon has led me to consider the term to be best left as "customize to taste," because we can use a combination other, less-problematic terms to describe all the issues that seem to be embedded in "immersion."

Therefore more posts about "Yeah, that's immersion to me," are not going to be useful.

Best,
Ron

P.S. Oh yeah, I just thought of another category: a combination of (a) identical to what Mike Holmes calls Participation, or the willing cooperation of players to accord with the pre-planned story events of a scenario; and (b) a commitment to in-game causality, or basic Simulationism. This is precisely how the term "immersion" is used in the text of Arrowflight, for example.


Title: Feeble attempt at defining immersion
Post by: Wart on October 02, 2002, 07:01:20 AM
Quote from: Ron Edwards
I'm not sure I'm making my point in this thread, so far. It is that we can all arrive at a happy ten-man consensus about the definition of "immersion" and it wouldn't matter. A person who defines it as my #4 is not going to budge; to him, we would be wrong, deluded, and very probably bad role-players. He then excludes himself from any discussion with such unsuitable characters (and perceives himself as excluded by us, incidentally).


On the other hand, the same could be said for Simulationism, Gamism and Narrativism. See, for example, the constant flamewars about the definition of Gamism, Simulationism and Dramatism (similar-but-different names from a similar-but-different model) on rec.games.frp.advocacy - despite the presence of a handy FAQ defining said terms.

Half the point of the essay is to give us a language to talk about what we enjoy in our games - leaving terms "fuzzy" leads to miscommunication and so hampers, not helps what we want to achieve.

Besides, just as many people would be inclined to ignore/put down the Forge because they don't like the Forge's definition of immersion as would be inclined to do the same because they disagree with how we define Gamism or Narrativism. Or roleplaying.


Title: Feeble attempt at defining immersion
Post by: Ron Edwards on October 02, 2002, 07:18:51 AM
Hi Arthur,

Well, we disagree. For one thing, we don't have flame-wars here regarding GNS terms, not since my essay was posted. Also, my perception of "people out there" is that few of them arrive at the Forge with preconceived and totally-committed definitions of those things, or of terms like protagonism or illusionism, or whatever. (The ones who do have to make a choice; some have stayed, some haven't.)

But "immersion," people do arrive with. I am convinced, pending some substantive argument, that providing a definition is going to be terribly alienating and excluding to many, many visitors to the site. The existing jargon is scary and some people feel threatened by it, but I think the number of people who feel outright terrorized and insulted by a definition of immersion (no matter how wondrous) would be much greater.

Also, regarding in-Forge discourse, I'm not leaving it fuzzy - I'm deconstructing it out of existence for purposes of discussion, by using other, defined terms which cover all the ground that "immersion" as a term covers badly.

Oh, final note: my posts on this thread are not intended to shut it down. If you guys want to bat "immersion" around, go for it - I'm confident that lots of good insights will emerge. My comments are only to indicate that my position will take a lot of budging, and to give a heads-up that (unlike say the discussions of what-is-Gamism and Illusionism) the thread isn't likely to have much impact on the essay.

Best,
Ron


Title: Feeble attempt at defining immersion
Post by: Wart on October 02, 2002, 08:07:42 AM
Quote from: Ron Edwards
But "immersion," people do arrive with. I am convinced, pending some substantive argument, that providing a definition is going to be terribly alienating and excluding to many, many visitors to the site. The existing jargon is scary and some people feel threatened by it, but I think the number of people who feel outright terrorized and insulted by a definition of immersion (no matter how wondrous) would be much greater.


I think it's a shame that we're allowing ourselves to be cowed by people's baser instincts, but then I'm the sort of person who, if given a choice between the two, would prefer my creations to be loved by a few rather than merely liked by many.


Title: Feeble attempt at defining immersion
Post by: contracycle on October 02, 2002, 08:21:17 AM
I'm inclined to think that a) simulation is the mode of play, that b) the description of GNS modes it embodies are fair enough, and that c) it is a form of hypnotism.  This is partly becuase I have been hypnotised and see some similarities with my experience under immersion.  I also see other similarities: that both are conducted by voice and, sometimes, eye contact.  We often recommend play locations that are quiet, and in which external stimuli are at a minimum.

Frankly, I would not be surprised to find that the mental mechanism at work is the same one operating when an ecstatic celebrant "channels" a god or spirit.  It may be that this also explains "hypnotic regression" to "past lives"; in a sense the subject is really RPing.

All of this is speculation - I am no expert.  But just on my own anecdotal experience it seems to me that this may well be the case.  I am aware of a sense of "waking" up; Marco's anecdote about confused about the weather strikes a similar chord to me.  I don't think it occurs particulalrly frequently; the moments I am thinking of are a handful.


Title: Feeble attempt at defining immersion
Post by: Wart on October 02, 2002, 09:06:42 AM
Contracycle,

What you are talking about seems to be another issue of how we define immersion. I'd describe what you're describing as "deep immersion", whereas some would say that it's "channeling" and that "immersion" just means "feeling what your character feels, whilst OOC stimuli are `tuned out'".

The longer this discussion goes on for, the more I think we need to define what we mean by "immersion", otherwise any discussion on it within the Forge is going to be problematic. Whilst it would be nice if this definition could go into Ron's essay (since so much of the Forge's discussion is based on it), if it has to go elsewhere (perhaps a "Forge glossary", compiled by several individuals and compiling both terms that arise in Ron's essay and other commonly-used Forge terms which don't appear in the essay) then so be it.


Title: Feeble attempt at defining immersion
Post by: Merten on October 02, 2002, 10:17:32 AM
Quote from: Wart
The longer this discussion goes on for, the more I think we need to define what we mean by "immersion", otherwise any discussion on it within the Forge is going to be problematic. Whilst it would be nice if this definition could go into Ron's essay (since so much of the Forge's discussion is based on it), if it has to go elsewhere (perhaps a "Forge glossary", compiled by several individuals and compiling both terms that arise in Ron's essay and other commonly-used Forge terms which don't appear in the essay) then so be it.


I think one of the problems of the term "immersion" is that it's (based on my all too quick read on Ron's essay) not really anything like the terms "gamist" or "narrativist" or "simulationist". Those seem to be terms that try to define, in a way, the style of play. Immersion, on the other hand, is something that tries to define a state ("I'm In Character, now - I'm immersed - I am the chracter, now, thus I see what the character sees and feel what the character feels") or experience.

To confuse the matter further, immersion is probably a very personal thing - everyone sees and feels it in their own way, and everyone might have their own way to reach that state - if they reach it, or even want to reach it.


Title: Not Defining Immersion
Post by: M. J. Young on October 02, 2002, 10:37:05 AM
Quote from: Wart
The longer this discussion goes on for, the more I think we need to define what we mean by "immersion", otherwise any discussion on it within the Forge is going to be problematic. Whilst it would be nice if this definition could go into Ron's essay (since so much of the Forge's discussion is based on it), if it has to go elsewhere (perhaps a "Forge glossary", compiled by several individuals and compiling both terms that arise in Ron's essay and other commonly-used Forge terms which don't appear in the essay) then so be it.


Oddly, I had exactly the opposite impression: the longer this discussion goes on, the more I see the wisdom in Ron's decision not to try to define it.

The logical reason for wanting to define it is so that when it is used everyone will know what it means, and so "be on the same page" as it were; but seriously, when you first came to The Forge, did you start by reading all the articles, and then join the discussions on the forum? I'll admit that I didn't; there are articles there I have not yet read. In fact, I had read the critical GNS article perhaps a year before I started doing the forums, but had to go back to refresh my memory when I started getting involved in the discussions. People generally make guesses at what is meant by gamist, narrativist, and simulationist, and it frequently leads to threads primarily about straightening out the definitions as presented in the article.

But as Ron says, immersion is a whole other animal. A lot of people have some vague idea of what GNS is about, and from that standpoint they accept correction when they make mistakes on it. But everyone on this thread has an opinion about what immersion means, and already there seem to be debates on that. Is it like a hypnotic state? Does it merely mean being very much in character in all decisions? Is it less than that, being totally engrossed in the game? I would say that there have been times when I have been immersed in a game of Pinochle, so totally focused on what cards I hold, what cards have been played, what meld has told me about my opponents' and partner's hands, whether my 10 is good in this suit yet--such that if the phone were to ring I might not hear it. Yet there is nothing in that to do with character stance; that's an extremely gamist sort of immersion (and I've seen people do this with chess, too, for example). I would not dare to begin to say that one definition of immersion is correct and all others are wrong.

More to the point, were we to decide that "this is what immersion means on The Forge", we're just going to create arguments with people who a) didn't think it means that and b) want to know why we insist that this is what it means. Doesn't it make much more sense, as Ron suggests, to eliminate the term as meaning anything other than "very involved in some way", and then create other terms that express what we mean?
Extreme Actor Stance, for being the character so totally that you think and feel like the character?
Complete Focus, for being so involved in the play of the game that the world around you fades from your mind?

I don't see it as being cowed by the biases of others. I see it as conceding that we don't control language, and cannot define all words that are in common usage by others. To quote as much from memory as I can,
Quote from: Lewis Carroll in the Alice stories
"There's Glory for you," Humpty Dumpty said.

"I'm sorry," Alice answered, "but I don't know what you mean by that."

"I mean, there's a good solid knock-down argument for you."

"I don't think 'glory' means that."

"When I use a word, it means exactly what I want it to mean, no more and no less," Humpty Dumpty stated.

"The question is whether you can make words mean whatever you want."

It is all well and good to say that we want to standardize some terminology here so that we can discuss things with a certain amount of shorthand, not defining everything in detail every time we use a word; and it is perfectly reasonable to say that I can't start a thread about "Narrativism" by redefining it into something completely unlike the normal usage of the word here. But we can't rewrite the entire language, and we can't expect people to abandon their own meanings of words in which they have invested a great deal of meaning and significance merely because we think it would be more convenient for us to divest it of whatever meaning it has to others and give it some specific meaning useful here. Not only is it rather rude to tell people that those definitions are incorrect, it generally doesn't work.

--M. J. Young


Title: Feeble attempt at defining immersion
Post by: Marco on October 02, 2002, 12:35:12 PM
MJ,

I don't agree. Suppose the definition is fixed at (something like) this:

Quote

Immersion: A state where the person is engrossed in the medium in the same way that one can be said to be "lost in a book" (many have associated this state with intense empathy with the character(s) ). Colderidge coined the term Willing Suspension of Disbelief, as a state when we allow ourselves to "forget" that they are reading a book (or watching a movie or playing a game) and might say they are "caught up in the story."

This has been broken down into the following categories:
Temporal --  [defn]
Spatial -- [defn]
etc.-- [defn]

Some things that we associate with Immersive play:
1. Playing in character.
2. Emotional identification with character (the player reports feeling as the character feels)
3. Surprise at breaks in the action (the player reports a jarring feeling when something happens in the environment to disrupt play)
4. etc ...

Some things that, for purposes of this discussion are NOT immersive play (although in other contexts that word would make sense):
1. Extreme concentration that is not associated with identifying with the character (such as the concentration of a chess player)
2. Treating the character as a pawn or game-piece.
3. etc ...



Now, you might come along and take issue with this--however--and this is important:
1. The definition is (I think) acceptable to most people (I took the first paragraph from pieces of several different web pages discussing immersion in books and stories.  It is *not* a special definition that is at odds with a general sense of what immersion is.

2. The two specific "what we associate" and "what we don't" are not all inclusive and discsss what is reported, not what's felt (so who cares if the player is hypnotized--if I report "being lost in the game" and you report "being hypnotized" it's not disagreeing with the fundamental description).

3. It's a useful definition--it lets out concentration around solving puzzles (now, one can argue that if the character is pondering a puzzle and so are you then it's immersion ... and hell, if you're reporting feeling Immersed, and you are identifying with the character, I'd agree--it doesn't argue that sometimes a gamist interlude won't be immersive ... crunchy combat doesn't break my immersion ... so that's fine).

4. Most importantly it *does* give a common ground, it isn't prescriptive. If someone comes and angrily says "I'm immersed when treating my character as a pawn," one can say sure, chess can be an immersive game in terms of concentration--but most lit majors or film critics think that its a different phenomena than is involved in film (which, again, most people will agree with, I think--in Meditation the terms contemplation or concentration and immersion are different and seen as complementary). You don't just have to say "we decided that wasn't the case here."

So I think it's useful.
More over, I think it's necessary. Arguments about things like "railroading" (is it always disfunctional?) can be decided with a glossary.  

To put it another way: even a discipline as fuzzy as literary analysis has terms for things like immersion. If GNS can't then we're screwed.

-Marco


Title: Feeble attempt at defining immersion
Post by: Valamir on October 02, 2002, 12:38:46 PM
If this were a democracy, you'd get my vote.


Title: Feeble attempt at defining immersion
Post by: contracycle on October 02, 2002, 01:43:06 PM
First of all, I do think a glossary is a good thing.  IMO all specialised discussions attach specific meanings to words that have different meanings in other contexts.

That said though - and I say it because I'm going to disagree with Marcos sample definition above - I tend to think that Immersion as I conceive of it is a distinct thing from GNS.  IIRC, Immersion has always been a contentious and special case because it is a radical claim to a qualitatively different experience than routine "supension of disbelief".

IMO Immersion is related strongly to the nature of RP as distinct from other media.  We are deliberately trying to think differently; to alter our conscious state.  To absorb and process spurious data as if it were true.

I don't think its coincidental that my best experiences with this mode occurred in a game that was almost a tabletop LARP; there was very little use of characer sheets or die rolling.  There was almost nothing that drew you out of the illusion; and I got deeper and deeper into it.  This is rather different than my usual mode of SOD, which is perfectly serviceable in a more mechanically driven game and which I enjoy.  That I recognises as SOD; as imaginative commitment.  IMO, Immersion is imaginative commitment to the point of trance.

My own counterargument to this would be that, even if it is a trance state, it may be that only being crashed out of it drew it to my attention, where normally I would have slipped in and out without noticing.  But I feel that the crash sensation was too significant to discount; it was not the normal sensation I have when engaging in the real world aspect of the game in conventional play.

In this regard I think I can see what the Turku school are getting it; they are actively seeking this mode.  Whether this is a good or bad thing is open to debate, but I do think there is an extreme form of the RP phenomonon.


Title: Feeble attempt at defining immersion
Post by: Mike Holmes on October 02, 2002, 01:49:37 PM
I'm for a midlle-ground approach. We should have a Theory of Immersion in which there are several different specifically defined sorts of Immersion. Character Immersion (deep Character Immersion would just be a level of this ona spectrum), Game Immersion, etc.

Then, when a person used Immersion you could ask them what sort they meant, and they could hardly have a problem with such constructions (just as few have problems with GNS as these are jargon associated with a specific theory). They could even say, "none of the above, more like...", and you would be further along than you were before.

Howzat sound?

Mike


Title: Feeble attempt at defining immersion
Post by: Ron Edwards on October 02, 2002, 01:53:26 PM
Mike,

I think that'll do it! Does anyone object to me creating such a list, probably after watching this thread simmer for a while longer? Some of the entries on it would proffer "terms that work for us at the Forge" as alternatives, pending such terms, and some wouldn't.

I'll start with the five I've identified - does anyone think those are off the beam, or maybe want to add others?

Anyway, this has been an astoundingly helpful thread and the only discussion of immersion-as-a-term I've ever seen that didn't break down into hurt feelings.

Best,
Ron


Title: Feeble attempt at defining immersion
Post by: contracycle on October 02, 2002, 02:02:49 PM
Incidentally, I'm perfectly happy for the term to be abandoned and some other lable used.  That might obviate the danger of trampling on toes without leaving it in undiscussable limbo.


Title: Feeble attempt at defining immersion
Post by: Marco on October 02, 2002, 06:10:34 PM
Contra,

I didn't mean to imply immersion in any GNS context simply that if it were to be used in any RPG Theory (of which GNS is one) discussions that there had to be some common ground.

While there's literally no way to argue with you, I'd say that what you're describing as Immersive play is simply "deep" immersion. Someone (Clinton?) related a tale where he played and wound up thinking like a mentally regressed character--that's *deep* immersion. I've seen players take personality traits of their characters away from the table (that's deep immersion).

Just as hypnotherapists describe different degrees of hypnosis, I merely suggest that immersion comes in different levels of depth. I think being "lost in a book" (whatever that means to you) describes the same thing as being immersed in a game pretty well and everyone would know what you're talking about.

-Marco


Title: Feeble attempt at defining immersion
Post by: Andrew Martin on October 02, 2002, 08:41:29 PM
Quote from: Marco
Someone (Clinton?) related a tale where he played and wound up thinking like a mentally regressed character--that's *deep* immersion. I've seen players take personality traits of their characters away from the table (that's deep immersion).


That's one of the reasons why I forbid players to roleplay evil characters. A former friend of mine regularly roleplayed evil characters and I think that experience changed or warped his personality. He's now no longer a friend. One is what what one thinks.


Title: Feeble attempt at defining immersion
Post by: JMendes on October 02, 2002, 08:48:05 PM
Ahey, :)

Quote from: Ron Edwards
Does anyone object to me creating such a list<...>

I'll start with the five I've identified<...>


Since no one else replied, I'll go ahead and state that I'd like that list to come out. :)

Cheers,

J.


Title: Feeble attempt at defining immersion
Post by: Merten on October 02, 2002, 09:11:09 PM
Quote from: contracycle
In this regard I think I can see what the Turku school are getting it; they are actively seeking this mode.  Whether this is a good or bad thing is open to debate, but I do think there is an extreme form of the RP phenomonon.


Well, contracycle, that's the best definition I've seen so far. I'm only a hangaround member of the Turku school (in a sense, saying that "immersion" something that's only attached to the few fellows who live in Turku and write liveroleplaying games is a bit misleading, though - driving towards total immersion is quite common phenomenon in Nordic games), but I can recognize the playing style from your description. Perhaps I should ask the writer of that paper and several other self-styled roleplaying theorists giving their opinion on that one.

It's funny that you say call it "an exterme form of the RP phenomenon", though, since personally I don't think I even could do live-roleplaying in any other way - or, in a sense, even tabletop roleplaying. Must be a cultural and learned thing.


Title: Feeble attempt at defining immersion
Post by: contracycle on October 03, 2002, 01:10:57 AM
Fine.  Subsequent comments suggest to me that we REALLY need to abandon the term as it exists in the demotic today.

My use of it is really specific: "Its that weird shit that Mary Kuhner described on RGFA which was raised as an issue precisely because it was distinct from routine suspension of disbelief."


Title: Feeble attempt at defining immersion
Post by: contracycle on October 03, 2002, 01:17:06 AM
Quote from: Merten

It's funny that you say call it "an exterme form of the RP phenomenon", though, since personally I don't think I even could do live-roleplaying in any other way - or, in a sense, even tabletop roleplaying. Must be a cultural and learned thing.


Hmm, possibly... Mary Kuhner seemed to do it a lot, something like 75% of play IIRC.  I have done it on "the odd occassion".  If you are really doing it All The Time, then I would think that it is a learned behaviour of some kind.  Which is interesting.

But I disagree very strongly that you can't do Live RP any other way; you most certainly can do it with routine "suspension of disbelief" and identification with the character.  That is NOT the trance-like state I mean.


Title: Feeble attempt at defining immersion
Post by: Merten on October 03, 2002, 01:41:47 AM
Quote from: contracycle
Hmm, possibly... Mary Kuhner seemed to do it a lot, something like 75% of play IIRC.  I have done it on "the odd occassion".  If you are really doing it All The Time, then I would think that it is a learned behaviour of some kind.  Which is interesting.


I think we are, perhaps, making the whole immersion-issue a bit too big and somehow removing it from the original context of roleplaying.

As I see it (though your and other peoples mileage may, and most probably will, be different), immersion is something that already a part of the roleplaying experience itself. It might be that the "depth" or "strenght" of immersion varies depending on playing style and preferences, but it's there. I would go as far as to define one aspect of roleplaying being immersion - you pretend being someone else, somewhere else. You, most probably, come up with some kind of visualisation from the descriptions the GM gives, and that's already immersion.

Quote
But I disagree very strongly that you can't do Live RP any other way; you most certainly can do it with routine "suspension of disbelief" and identification with the character.  That is NOT the trance-like state I mean.


Well, if we define Immersion as "total immersion, that trance-like state where you are or very strongly try to be someone else, thinking like your character does, seeing what he sees, et cetera", then yeah - I agree. There are lot's of ways to live-roleplaying, as there are lot's of ways doing roleplaying in general.

If we define (just for this short moment ;) ) immersion as something I just said, then I disagree - immersion is a vital component of roleplaying.

I just meant that I can't do it without "deep immersion" - it's probably my shortcoming, though personally I see it as result of having been in too many good games (judged by my limited experiences and preferences on what makes a good game). It takes only Vampire live-game and it's meta-level to bring me back to the painfull reality of abstract rules and Out Of Character discussions. Of course, some people prefer that kind of gaming, which is okay. It's just me (and bunch of others) who doesen't like it.

But who's Mary Kuhner? Never heard.


Title: Feeble attempt at defining immersion
Post by: contracycle on October 03, 2002, 02:36:27 AM
someone who posted to rec.games.frp.advocacy some years ago.

It is becuause immersion has become defined as the imaginative commitment that I think is confusing.  I do not, at least, think of immersion on those terms; or more accurately, I do think the phenomenon originally termed immersion is a far end of the spectrum of degrees of imaginative investment.


Title: Feeble attempt at defining immersion
Post by: contracycle on October 03, 2002, 03:05:30 AM
http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=0008D31F-BD5B-1C6F-84A9809EC588EF21&pageNumber=1&catID=2

For reference, a Scientific American article on hyptnotism, including thr following note as an image caption:

IT DOESN'T TAKE MUCH to induce hypnosis: staring fixedly at a spot on the wall and listening to the soothing voice of a hypnotist will do the trick for most people.


Title: Feeble attempt at defining immersion
Post by: Wart on October 03, 2002, 04:03:32 AM
Quote from: Andrew Martin
That's one of the reasons why I forbid players to roleplay evil characters. A former friend of mine regularly roleplayed evil characters and I think that experience changed or warped his personality. He's now no longer a friend. One is what what one thinks.


I'd be inclined to think that there may have been tendencies already there which roleplaying the evil characters managed to unleash, but he was your friend so you'd know better.


Title: The List
Post by: M. J. Young on October 03, 2002, 02:22:11 PM
I look forward to Ron's list.

I find it interesting that in response to the suggested compromise, Contracycle saw it as too broad; I, on the other hand, thought it too narrow--I think there is a real place for the same sort of "immersion" that occurs in chess and pinochle, in which the player is deeply engrossed in the tactical/strategic aspects of the game even if this is not how his character would be perceived. For one thing, I have played my share of professional soldier types, and I am not a professional soldier. What my character would do without a second thought may take me quite a bit of careful consideration to produce--thus I may be so focused on details precisely because the character is not, yet I am certainly "immersed" in the game and in the character, in a certain sense.

But I'll wait for the list.

--M. J. Young


Title: Feeble attempt at defining immersion
Post by: lumpley on October 04, 2002, 12:25:05 PM
In the way-immersive games I've played, you got pretty extensive Director power when you were in character.  Thus:

Me: "I walk through the hallway.  Murray's there."

Murray's player: "I am?  Musta finished what I was working on in my room."

Thought it'd be worth mentioning.

-Vincent