[MUD-Dev] Immersion Types (was Re: Levels of Immersion)

Tess Lowe tess at havensong.com
Wed Dec 13 14:24:27 New Zealand Daylight Time 2000


So far we appear to have these three types of immersion - avatar,
character and persona.  Two of these are relatively non-immersive -
avatar and character.

But it strikes me that none of these three levels actually represents
many players that I come across, who are not roleplayers (character) ,
not like quake players (avatar) and definitely not immersed to the
point of projecting their own personality into the gameworld as if
they lived there (persona).

So I figured a little chart might help me. Another Bartle Square, if
you will.

Basically, it's 'In Character/Out Of Character' vs
'Detachment/Attachment'

This will probably look awful in a proportional font, but here goes -
this is how I see it:

  ---------------------------------------------------------------
                Detachment                      Attachment

  IC            'character'                     'persona'

  OOC           'avatar'                        'player'

  The level of immersion increases from bottom left to top right.
  ---------------------------------------------------------------

Notes:

1. The 'character' type players are the master *Roleplayers*. They
maintain a strong level of personal detachment from the gameworld,
while still being in-character all the time. They can play good guys
or bad guys equally well, and can roleplay people who are entirely
unlike themselves. Their only frustration is with the 'persona' type,
who take it way too seriously when their character's well-planned
personality defects get the whole party killed.

2. The 'avatar' type is the player who treats the MMORPG like Quake,
or Diablo. They too have a strong level of detachment from the
gameworld, but unlike the roleplayers their detachment comes from
never seeing a world to become attached to in the first place. To the
avatar type there is only The Score. Exp, Loot, whatever. Speech is
kept to the bare minimum ("can u sow me plz"), except when
gloating. They are the *Powergamers*

3. The 'persona' type are difficult to understand by anyone who hasn't
been one themselves. They always act consistently with the gameworld,
making strenuous and faintly ridiculous efforts to avoid saying
anything that seems incongruent there. 'Lag' becomes 'the infamous
lagbeast'. 'Going linkdead' becomes 'being ripped from this reality by
the maelstrom'. They are completely immersed, but they aren't playing
a character - they are being themselves, as they themselves would be
and act if they were living in another world and knew nothing of this
one. 'persona' type players love their world with a passion that can
be downright scary to the detached newcomer. They despise anything
that is out of character as disrespectful to their beloved
homeland. And they take everything that happens to their character in
game as personally as if it had happened to themselves.  Because, of
course, it *did*. These are the *Natives*.

4. Finally, the 'player' type. These are the hardest to define but
possibly the most common type of all, especially in mass-market
mmorpgs. They fully embrace the mythology and culture of the
gameworld, but unlike the persona type, they do not suppress or hide
their knowledge of real life. They are conspicuously out of character
like the powergamers, but dont generally succumb to contracted
word-forms, instead speaking as if conversing over a coffee with
friends. They are clearly in the 'it's just a game' category while
still appreciating the beauty of the world in which they're playing.
In this sense they have most in common with the 'character' type,
except that they make no attempt to pretend to be anything other than
they are in real life - someone playing a game.

---

Now, I personally tend to start in muds as a 'character' and slip
towards 'persona' which like Tess Snider I believe is not a good place
to be if you're prone to getting too attached to things you can't
change. In Everquest I've found myself being a 'player' type. Being
OOC somehow inoculates me from the worst excesses of caring too much.

~Tess Lowe


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