[MUD-Dev] Levels of immersion

Richard A. Bartle richard at mud.co.uk
Tue Dec 12 20:11:31 New Zealand Daylight Time 2000

On 11 December, John Vanderbeck wrote:

> Actually I would tend to flip this.  Instead of saying that Role
> Playing acts as an aid to Immersion, I would argue that instead
> Immersion acts as an aid to Role Playing.

I'd disagree: you can't really consciously immerse yourself in a game
world, but you can consciously role-play. If you're immersed and you
want to role-play, you have to do so from the point of view of the
immersed persona, otherwise you wouldn't be immersed. If it's my aim
to be a noble paladin type and I become immersed in the game before I
achieve my aim, then the me in the game world has to want to be the
paladin type. Now this could well happen, because the me in the game
and the me in the real world are the same me, but it would probably
involve leaving immersivity to make the decision, which undermines
it. Now if the immersed me wants to become the paladin because the
context of the game world, rather than the real world, makes the
decision natural, that's fine, I have no problem with that. It
wouldn't be an aid to role-playing, though, because in the game world
I wouldn't be role-playing, I'd be striving for some goal to improve
ME, not my character.

> If you feel immersed in the world, you will tend to play that role.
> On the other hand playing the role doesn't mean you feel immersed in
> the world.

I see what you're getting at, and yes, there is some sense that if you
feel in the game world then that will help accustomise you to the role
you want to play in it. Role-playing is at the character level,
though, not the persona level. You can role-play incredibly well and
really feel that your character is in the game world, but until you
feel it's YOU in the game world you're not fully immersed. So long as
you're still using an "I'm role-playing" mind set, it's not immersion.


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