Role-playing and Immersion (and its alternatives)

Merten writes, in his blog:

Lately, I’ve been trying to put my confusing notes in character immersive playing (aka. eläytyjivism) into single, easy introduction to the mentioned play style. I’ve ended up with a beginning of a long essay which is, essentially, loads of confusing notes lumped into one. The fact I’m trying to write in English does not help things a bit. I’m getting less and less suprised by the fact that there’s lack of basic introductory material of immersion available – it’s a bitch to write.

I am not surprised about this: immersion is a buzzword that is used in various ways–often without a definition or thought out meaning.

I think that the concepts of engrossment and framing could introduce more stable ground for discussion and descriptions of role-playing experiences than immersion.

The fictional world of a game and real world are contexts, frames of meaning, that are both present in the game. The awareness of each frame, the awareness of a player changing the frame, and ambiguities of the frame of reference are all important in constituting the playing experience. In a game players must choose whether playing their own selves disguised as character or play the the character in simulation mode (trying to reason what the character would do in the given situation). (see, Fine 1983, p. 4).

The character immersive playing could then be described as a kind of playing that focus on the game frame, tries to minimize changes between game frame and primary frame, and where a player tries to act and make judgments as as if she is the character.

Fine, G. A. (1983). Shared fantasy: Role-playing games as social worlds. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press (paperback ed.).

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One thought on “Role-playing and Immersion (and its alternatives)

  1. I think you pretty much hit the nail there. Incidentally, Kuma does talk about the same thing with regards to his AGE-model:

    http://blog.kumapageworks.org/blog/?p=139

    I certainly wouldn’t mind if someone would come up with a good, solid term for character immersive play. Immersion is something that’s been used for ages to cover a myriad amount of different things.

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