[MUD-Dev] Levels of immersion

Richard A. Bartle richard at mud.co.uk
Wed Dec 13 20:33:32 New Zealand Daylight Time 2000

On 12 December 2000, Travis Casey wrote:

> To me, roleplaying is making decisions "in character" -- that is,
> based on what your character would do in this situation if your
> character were a real person in a real world, rather than based on
> game mechanical or metagame considerations.

Yes, OK, fair enough.

> Immersion is a state of "roleplaying flow" -- a state where you
> don't have to consciously think "what would my character do", but
> you just have your character do that.  In other words, you are
> roleplaying on an unconscious or automatic level.

I see what you mean here, too. This is where you have become immersed
in your character, though, not in the game. Actors can become immersed
in characters, but they don't feel while on stage that they're in a
virtual world.

> I can be in full immersion, and if someone walks up to me physically
> and asks, "What's your name?" I'll say, "Travis Casey", not "Efindel
> of Asperdi."

In the game world, you'd answer Efindel. In the real world, you'd
answer Travis. It depends where the stimulus comes from.

If someone had asked my name yesterday when I was at a conference, I
would have said "Richard Bartle". If they ask me tonight at my
daughter's school production, I'll say "Richard, I'm Madeleine's
father".  When I try to get a decent seat on a flight I'm "Dr
Bartle". It's the same me, just a different label depending on the

> To me, to say that "you are your character" implies that you are no
> longer conscious of the distinction between yourself and your
> character.

Yes, that's exactly it.

Maybe what I didn't make clear (because it was such a short article)
is that the immersion I am talking about is in the game world. You are
immersed if you believe that YOU are in the game world; if the game
world takes on a reality and you are able to transport yourself there,
to the extent that you can act and feel as though you ARE
there. Whether you role-play to achieve that end is neither here nor

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