Immersion; method and content

edited October 2011 in Story Games
Posted By: TeataineThe common thread to all these immersive experiences, in my opinion, is a sort of surrender of the player to the GM's narrative rythm.
If you got a GM, there has to be some concord between you and she, to enable your immersion in the interactive system, and in your character.

But in modern games (those with no GM) there is the concord between you and the other players, and your joint immersion in the interactive system that makes the day. Your immersion is rather stronger in those games, in my experience, due to methods created specifically for tapping into just this phenomenon. And maybe due to methods being mechanics-light. Deceptively simple methods give raise to intense and complex interactive drama.

To me it is all a question of letting the game take command of you. So the game takes over by inspiring you to do things "the character way", rather than your own way. It takes place when there's an atmosphere that lets your intuition rule the field, in concord with other players, resulting in a creative mesh of sense, sensibility and imagination.

Those party to these experiences often look at them as pinnacles of great gaming. And no wonder; it is the closest thing to pure ego-transforming magic we have in games (and other media) today.

Comments

  • Love how you call them modern games ;-)

    Describe that in detail: Deceptively simple methods give raise to intense and complex interactive drama.


    "It takes place when there's an atmosphere that lets your intuition rule the field, in concord with other players, resulting in a creative mesh of sense, sensibility and imagination. "

    What does best lead you to this state? the people? the system?
  • Posted By: ivanLove how you call them modern games ;-)
    I have a simple distinction between classical and modern games.

    Classical = role-playing games with one player leading the other players.

    Modern = role-playing games with players co-leading the game.

    (recently I have made exceptions for story-games: narrative games with no exclusive character-player bonds)
    Posted By: ivanDescribe that in detail: Deceptively simple methods give raise to intense and complex interactive drama.
    Oh! Describing that without writing such a game for you? Well ...
    - sorry; no can do. I have succeeded in making a handful of such games, but I fail in terms that can explain them theoretically with clarity. Maybe Matthijs can help us out?
  • The distinction between classical and modern is rather arbitrary but I suppose you want to draw the line somewhere on the question of who is responsible for what part of the creative output of the group (and to a lesser extent when it happens, at the table or before, in character play or beside it). Where you put Mortal Coil in all this is puzzling and local conditions always make it difficult to generalise.

    Going back to Mortal Coil, I've played it as GM, as a player with a GM and as a player in a GM-less game and I've had immersion in all three, even when other players in the same haven't had or sought that type of experience. The most immersive game that I currently pay, in which all players are really engaged through their characters, is AD&D.
  • edited October 2011
    The only time I've ever had immersion is in LARPs, where I didn't have to imagine how my character's left leg was, I could just use my left leg. As with most LARPs, it didn't have anything to do with the GM or system.

    And under this definition, Mortal Coil is definitely a classical roleplaying game.
  • It is easy to go immersive in a LARP. Hard to get anything more intuitive than acting out physically.
  • I actually have an easier time seeing goblins in my head when sitting at a table and tuning out my surroundings than I do when seeing my friend dressed up in a goblin costume.

    And nothing breaks my ability to imagine blood-spraying violence like poking politely at someone with a foam sword.

    I should probably try some jeepform, which stays away from those subjects...

    Tomas, I like your opening point about the two approaches: subsuming into the fiction either via the storyteller GM or via group surrender to "the character way" of acting. I think the latter requires characters worth exploring in a wide variety of situations. I find it difficult to play that way when my character is basically just me in situations different from my real life. Although I've found "what would I do if I was there?" to be extremely immersive; so maybe that's a third type.
  • edited October 2011
    Posted By: ivan"It takes place when there's an atmosphere that lets your intuition rule the field, in concord with other players, resulting in a creative mesh of sense, sensibility and imagination. "

    What does best lead you to this state? the people? the system?
    I forgot to answer this one.

    A designer will need to tell you, the people playing his game, what to expect, and how you should behave to get there. And then he need to give you the tools to work your way into the state of the game. That is; the tools you use to immerse in the interactive system, and to empower your intuition in acting out the character. There's a multitude of ways to do this, as many as the games of yesterday, today and tomorrow, and then some. But all in all; when you succeed, it is the designer of the game, the game itself, your co-players, and your trust in the benignity of the interaction (even when it sharpens), that delivers you.

    One very important aspect, though, is how we, the players, support each other by playing our characters to the best of our ability. When all of us do this, "the best of our ability" rise to really great levels. We make each other better players.
  • Posted By: David BergI actually have an easier time seeing goblins in my head when sitting at a table and tuning out my surroundings than I do when seeing my friend dressed up in a goblin costume.
    LOL! So do I! There is little immersion to be had from silliness, but it may be fun all the same.
    Posted By: David BergTomas, I like your opening point about the two approaches: subsuming into the fiction either via the storyteller GM or via group surrender to "the character way" of acting.
    You misread me. To me it is all a question of surrendering your ego to the game-play, so the interaction may inspire you to do things "the character way", rather than your own way. This is true wether you have a GM or not. I am not describing two different ways to the goal, but the same way to the goal, in spite of outside conditions like having a GM or not. What I'm mindful of, is how the players act together to make it possible, and how the game supports them in this.

    So what I'm saying is that there is only one way, but a lot of different ways to walk upon it. ;-)
  • Posted By: TomasHVM

    Posted By: ivanDescribe that in detail: Deceptively simple methods give raise to intense and complex interactive drama.
    Oh! Describing that without writing such a game for you? Well ...
    - sorry; no can do. I have succeeded in making a handful of such games, but I fail in terms that can explain them theoretically with clarity. Maybe Matthijs can help us out?

    Well, I don't have a very good and clear answer, either. I do feel that I've sometimes struck gold when designing/running games; "Fuck Youth" and "Society of Dreamers" fit Tomas' description well.

    I think these are some key elements:
    - Creating a space for play, encapsuled in ritual and trust
    - A trusted, calm and clear facilitator or facilitating text
    - Characters that are open for interpretation by the player, allowing him/her to open pathways to inner emotions, memories and other processes that are usually submerged or forgotten
    - Letting things - relationships, personalities - grow slowly and organically, with input from others; getting to know them, as an important goal of play
    - Encouraging listening and awareness
    - Using randomization as an oracle for interpretation
    - Encouraging agency, but also submission to the flow of the game
  • Great keys, Matthijs! Thanks!
  • I'm glad to hear that, Tomas. I feel I've learned a lot of these things from you.
  • edited October 2011
    It may be that I have instigated some ideas, but you have been developing methods and insights that are your own, Matthijs, a valuable regime of thought in its own respect.

    (and so they continued patting backs in vigorous enthusiasm)
  • This should be a RP poem. "The Patting of the Backs."
  • Posted By: TomasHVMOne very important aspect, though, is how we, the players, support each other by playing our charactersto the best of our ability. When all of us do this, "the best of our ability" rise to really great levels. We make each other better players
    Agreed. Immersion comes via trust and leadership by example. That's trust at a meta-level and trust at a story-level. Many RPG systems, particularly the ones Tomas has labeled "classical," actually foster a mistrustful environment, giving one person undue control over all the characters, and making that same person the final arbiter of your social and narrative safety.

    I've been having this conversation (or ones rather like it anyway) on G+ this week because I revealed on my site that Bhaloidam potentially allows for shared control of all characters and certainly requires a high degree of cooperation at a minimum. This led to a lot of excited questions about how the platform keeps this from escalating out of control, how the mechanics support that at a social level, etc.

    Ultimately, I see this potential for fostering cooperation as being one of the great strengths of RPGs and table top storytelling games. I even believe it allows the playing of them to have a positive impact on the players' daily lives.
  • edited October 2011
    Posted By: TomasHVMI am not describing two different ways to the goal, but the same way to the goal, in spite of outside conditions like having a GM or not.
    Oh, okay, that probably makes more sense than the way I was interpreting it anyway. I'm curious -- can you play "the character way" with just any character? Or does it have to be the right character?
  • David; would it ever be any character? The moment you make it your character, it will become the right one, or what?

    I'm a great believer in letting players start up with simple cliché-characters, and then make them into something more by themselves; a merry paraphrase with two clumsy legs, an effective action-figure, or a profound and moving human being, depending on the game. It makes the characters grow with the game, taking cues from the interaction, and developing relations between them while growing. Simple characters allows for dynamic interaction, and complexity growing from within.
  • Hmm. Well, I've definitely seen that not happen. I've seen players too uncertain of who their character is and what they'd do to really play them with any sort of instinct. But maybe that's less about the character and more about the game and social context.
  • edited October 2011
    I do believe it is less about the character, and less about the player too. Stepping into character is a fairly simple thing to do. Most of us has a lot of training in play pretend, both as children and as adults, and that makes us very much capable of stepping into a simple character. The game has to open up for it, of course, and then it has to drag us further in.

    So; I believe it has a lot to do with the game, that probably has an insufficient method, or is being used wrong.
  • Tomas you say..... stepping into character is a simple thing to do.....I believe it has a lot to do with the game, that probably has an insufficient method, or is being used wrong.

    The group I game with all step into character but, one or two in the group can become that character in such a convincing way that you actually feel your interacting with something real.
    This level of immersion seems beyond method.
    I have noticed some can act in this manner and some cant. Its as if they're unaware or not self conscious, which often spoils the illusion.
    Real acting, which I have not studied. Should that be part of this investigation into immersion?
  • Going deeper into character is a matter of talent, and method. A game with a great method will support players in their character-work.

    But some people are not made for role-playing, in the true sense of the word; pretending to be someone else. They really can't do it. I am a great believer in having all kinds of people play my games, but still I have to recognize that not all is able to play a character. There are some few that have no talent whatsoever in this respect.

    Still; most people do have some talent, and a great method makes it easy for most players get into character. I've seen that a lot of people respond very positively to methods of play that have no mechanics in them, thus making them less game-like. Methods solely built upon dialogue techniques, with simple scene-framing in the way of cards or players fiat, is great in tapping into the potential of a lot of people for convincing character play.

    The game theme is a great factor too; playing themes and characters close to the heart of the players, makes for easier character immersion. A lot of people have trouble dispelling the tropes of fantasy or space opera, and are more at home playing drama of our own world and age.
  • So we create a game to facilitate some methods to play characters, not abstract representations as in character sheets and gaining experience stuff.

    The methods hit everyone's sweet spot, good theme, Scene framing, situational cards, author ship shared,,,,,, What do we have left?
    Players acting through character.

    If your not acting your not immersed in character,, your immersed in the methods which can be very absorbing in them selves. I do love to read ideas on methods.
    But I come back to my question has anyone studied or investigated real acting? Please point me in this direction if they have.
  • edited October 2011
    Posted By: Paul88So we create a game to facilitate some methods to play characters, not abstract representations as in character sheets and gaining experience stuff.
    A character sheet isn't a abstract representation of a character. It simply a way to describe a character. And no less valid way to describe a character then anything else.
    Posted By: Paul88
    If your not acting your not immersed in character,, your immersed in the methods which can be very absorbing in them selves. I do love to read ideas on methods.
    But I come back to my question has anyone studied or investigated real acting? Please point me in this direction if they have.
    But that creates a question, what is acting in this sense of the word? We need another definition of acting then then usual one to cover all the medias you can play immersionistic roleplying games in that really far from any traditional acting media.

    For example a lot of tabletop roleplay isn't acted out, it is described in third person. Yet that don't keep people from immersing into the character. So you not acting in a traditional word. You can take it even further with other roleplay medias.

    People immerse when they play wow online, and that quite far from any acting. Or in chat based rolpley, and then suddenly we need to define acting in a way that include writing as well.
  • edited October 2011
    Posted By: Paul88But I come back to my question has anyone studied or investigated real acting?
    Acting is like putting on a given mask; you project a character to the audience.

    Playing is like making up and using a character, and when immersing; to let it use you. "Projecting it to an audience" (the other players) is a small part of your relationship to the character. What's more important is how your character relates to other characters, and what you do about that.

    I know I generalize here, but there is a difference in principle here, that makes these into two different things. The inner processes of play-acting and role-playing differ from each other, and they create different content. They're similar on the outside only.
  • edited October 2011
    Posted By: TomasHVMActingis like putting on a given mask; you project a character to the audience.
    I know a lot of actors who would disagree with this interpretation of acting.

    Regardless, the particular acting skill set that's most useful for role playing is improvisational performance. Common guidelines include--use "yes, and" (i.e. never negate what you're given to work with), keep the focus human and on stage, keep it short (referring to individual lines of dialog), and leave with intention (never just wander off without explanation).

    Which brings me to my point--in my experience there are two primary components that leads to immersive role play--Mastery and Agency. If Spinners feel they not only have freedom to act. but the power to act meaningfully and well, they will likely feel immersed in the experience. Anything that limits their ability to exhibit mastery--whether that's at the mechanics level or the social level--will hamper their feeling of agency and thus immersion.

    Yesterday I ran demo for my platform using a one-shot called "The Funeral." This is a pure dialog scene where three estranged adult siblings confront each other after their father's funeral. Each has something they're ashamed of and each has a suspicion about another sibling. It requires some coaching for the first few lines of dialog because it's such a foreign structure for most gamers, but as the scene goes on and the Spinners feel more and more confident in their ability to manage the mechanics and their Performances, they become more and more immersed. It's fascinating to watch happen.
  • Posted By: CorvusEI know a lot of actors who would disagree with this interpretation of acting.
    They would probably say that there's a lot more to it. Of course it is, I'm generalizing, but the point stands; the process of play-acting and role-playing differ from each other.
  • Corvus,

    I like that focus. Mastery... man, that's a complicated thing in RPGs. There's, like, mastery of the form and mastery of the moment. You can be the most skilled actor and author in the world and still fall flat if you're out of synch with your play group. Optimally capturing the moment requires some very strong pre-game agreement and some reading each other. I think game design can help in both those areas. It sounds like that's one of the things you're working on, right?

    I've found that giving players helpful tools without stepping on their ability to exhibit mastery (e.g., a "flow" of character portrayal that often goes hand in hand with immersion) is quite a challenge! But then, I'm picky about how I like my immersive flow.
  • Posted By: David BergIt sounds like that's one of the things you're working on, right?

    I've found that giving players helpful tools without stepping on their ability to exhibit mastery (e.g., a "flow" of character portrayal that often goes hand in hand with immersion) is quite a challenge! But then, I'm picky about how I like my immersive flow.
    That's pretty much what Bhaloidam is all about. So many story games provide too little guidance for timid or inexperienced spinners--tossing them into the flow of story with no maps,no guideposts, and no mechanism by which they can interpret the currents. This is made worse when they play with Spinners who have strong storytelling skills who run roughshod over them in their haste to be the champion explorer.

    Bhaloidam is structured to let every Spinner shine to the best of their ability by keeping performance short, focused, and attached to the intuitive visual/kinaesthetic mechanics.

    And since they are given complete control over the outcomes of their performances, they are able to feel agency even when sharing in a more guided story experience.
  • @CorvusE

    what are the basic mechanics of Bhaloidam?

    what do you model? character psychology? skills? story?
  • Posted By: ivan@CorvusE

    what are the basic mechanics of Bhaloidam?
    Exerting Will via Influences serves to provide guidance for your performance, which in turn is applied to effect within the scene (spilling Ego, movement, timing, etc).
    what do you model? character psychology? skills? story?
    Relationships.
  • Heh. I see we're looking at this differently.

    When I think "exhibit mastery" I think "show off what you're already good at" not "get help". Short, focused, and attached to the mechanics sounds like it'd cramp my style if I was looking to show off.

    If I was instead looking to learn a new thing, though, then it could be cool. And then one day maybe I'd be a master of that too. So, not knockin' it. Just not where I thought you were coming from.
  • @CorvusE

    I would love to see some Actual Play report when you have it available.
  • edited October 2011
    @David it's about both exhibiting and attaining mastery. And I see constraints as inspiration for brilliance, not limits to it, so that factors into the design as well.

    @Ivan I posted a bit of gameplay yesterday here. You'll likely want to read back a bit to get more context, so starting with the post Bhaloidam as Stage is a decent starting point. I'm working on a comic format gameplay sample that I hope to have out later this week and I'm going to be filming an actual play session this weekend.
  • I tend to go the other way. I find "Classical" games present more of the kind of immersion I am after. Because there is not a need to stop and get a group opinion, never a reason to pause the game drop out of immersion to make group decisions. Instead one person exists to create the flow of the game, and the rest play their characters--they make choices and decisions primarily motivated by the characters artificial life--their decisions rather than the players best interest..

    I've not yet seen a so called by you "Modern" game sans GM that didn't hiccup in play and make the person step outside the character role, to narrate, make over-arcing decisions outside of the artificial life of the fictional persona, that doesn't mean they don't exist. Just that I've not run into one that does it quite as well as the Gm directed games. One of the reasons my games focus on making character decisions to empower the character. I prefer character empowerment to player empowerment, and yes they can differ.
  • Posted By: Silverlionand the rest play their characters--they make choices and decisions primarily motivated by the characters artificial life--their decisions rather than the players best interest..
    Actually/Really? Or ideally? For my part classical games tend to put me in a problem & plot solving state of mind where firstly I try to listen to the GM/story plot or flags. Character advancement can also distract me from character immersion, well a lot of stuff can be distracting from "character artificial life" in classical games.

    I think I get more immersed in characters with games like Archipelago or Dread.
  • From what I have seen in most discussions, and this one has not yet proven to be majorly different, immersion is usually code for "experiencing a flow state while roleplaying".

    An interesting and important note about that. Experiencing a flow state, by definition, means that you are performing a difficult task with mastery. (I'm not saying that every time you perform a difficult task with mastery you will enter a flow state. But it's one of the definitional requirements for it.)

    That, in particular, can serve as an interesting diagnostic for why people struggle with immersion sometimes.

    Often, they struggle because they've changed the activity enough that they are no longer able to perform with mastery. And they haven't given themselves enough time mastering the new activity enough to be able to reach the flow state again.

    So trying a new style of tabletop game that's drastically different from what you are used to can cause you not to reach a flow state the first several times you play, because you are still working on gaining mastery of the new game.

    Likewise, people who try out larp who haven't given it enough time to really master it often focus on the parts they are unfamiliar with and find those things jarring because they have not mastered them yet.

    This is something to consider when looking at how doing something outside your experience and comfort zone affects your "immersion" - your ability to reach a flow state.

    As a comparative example that I learned about during English Education classes years ago: While a student is learning a new writing technique, their more basic skills usually degrade for a while because they are focusing on the new part. For example, while learning how to write a formal comparative essay for the first time, a student will often display spelling and grammar mistakes that they would not have made if writing in a form they were more familiar with. As they practice and gain mastery over the new form, their other skills will return and they will stop making mistakes with the words and grammar structures they are familiar with. Also, the general quality of the content will improve, as they gain an understanding of the new form and how best to apply it - for a comparative essay, for example, they well choose better subjects to compare and better details to use in making the comparison.

    Mastery comes with time. And mastery with something similar doesn't confer instant mastery with something new.

    And, yes, the activity itself can be structured by the designer to make mastery easier to attain. The best game designers do this with their books. And the best GMs (when applicable) do this at their table.
  • Posted By: RobMcDiarmidFrom what I have seen in most discussions, and this one has not yet proven to be majorly different, immersion is usually code for "experiencing a flow state while roleplaying".
    That interesting. Because from where I "come from" when it comes to theory, the nordic larp scene, the definition of immersion is quite far away from flow. I recognize there are diffrent types of immersion and how you reach that immersion is an induvidual thing. But flow states is quite well defined and dont overlap at all with a lot of immersive experinces.

    Flow (psychology) on wikipedia: "Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person in an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity."

    I want to give to examples of immersions state that clearly different from Flow.

    1. Non happy immersion moments. All the time you goes into character immersion when you experience v low feelings; bordom, or being really tired and exhausted, sad, confused or scared all fall far from a flow experiences.

    Quoting Wikipedia once more. " In flow, the emotions are not just contained and channeled, but positive, energized, and aligned with the task at hand. To be caught in the ennui of depression or the agitation of anxiety is to be barred from flow. The hallmark of flow is a feeling of spontaneous joy, even rapture, while performing a task[2] although flow is also described (below) as a deep focus on nothing but the activity – not even oneself or one's emotions."

    2. A experiences a lot of immersive larper share is when you reach the point when you reach a point of character immersion when you even dream in-characer dreams, and that quite far from an conscious flow state. You are asleep, but clearly mentally immersed in character. Sleep =/= Flow.
  • Addendum:

    To me, with my view of immersion I would actually say that the feeling of "spontaneous joy, even rapture" is at odds at being immersed into the character emotionally* unless the character IC is feeling spontaneous joy, even rapture, over something in-character. (Unless you are not experience multiple levels of feelings at the same time Joy AND what the character is feeling at the same time. I had the experiences of multiple levels of feeling at times during immersion a few times. )But if you are only feeling joy and the character isn't feeling joy I wouldn't say you where experiencing emotional character immersion at all.



    (* But I'm saying nothing about other kind of immersion. Just specifically being immersed into the character emotionally)
  • edited October 2011
    (Crossposted, so I didn't see your addendum before I wrote. So I addressed some of what you later added before you added it.)

    I'm not sure I'd classify dreaming as immersion. Dreaming is processing memories. You're processing your memories of time spent playing/being the character. You're doing the brain-work that humans need to do to transfer medium-term memory into long-term memory. You're remembering game time.

    The joy of flow does not negate the possiblity of experiencing crappy low feelings as a character. If you have a really deep negative experience and you came out of it and said "wow, that was awesome" then you experienced both the joy and the pain at the same time (you masochistic little freak :) ). If you came out of it and didn't feel the joy of having gone through a fascinating experience as your character, then you (the player) were just tired, exhausted, hurt, bored.

    My dad's favorite movies are the gut-punchers. The deep, dramatic movies that are drenched in human drama and pain (and sometimes the humor that helps us deal with those things). He's watched Sideways and Pollock about a half dozen times each, though he's not generally a fan of rewatching movies. He loves getting invested in those characters and their pain, though he's probably the least sadistic person I know. But he clearly finds some level of immersive flow-like joy in engaging with those movies. And I've seen players do the same thing in games.

    I very much don't think that joy of flow and the pain of immersing in character-driven negativity are mutually exclusive. Quite the opposite, in fact.

    I don't know about you, but I'm capable of feeling the joy of flow and the negativity of character-driven angst at the same time. In fact, I rather insist on it. If I'm not feeling the joy, then the angst and negativity knocks me out of my characterization and back into myself in the worst possible way.
  • I think there are several types of flow you can get from tabletop roleplay. I think "immersion" generally is not used to refer to all of them.

    If I'm flowing on the mastery of managing my trait dice to win the current conflict with a good amount of resources left over for the next one, I may or may not be particularly into the fiction.

    I like my immersive flow to focus on mastery of fiction-creation. Masterful system manipulation can support that -- I know the trait dice strategies so well I don't have to think about them -- but in that case I'd call that mastery secondary to the experience (and probably not what we're talking about if we discuss this flow).

    From the perspective of immersive flow, I'm not sure if there's a difference between masterful narration that incorporates mechanics-use and masterful narration that's freeform.

    Oh, wait, I'm not in the "is freeform natural?" thread, am I? Regardless, interesting stuff, Rob!
  • edited October 2011
    Posted By: w176Flow (psychology) on wikipedia:"Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person in an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity.

    In flow, the emotions are not just contained and channeled, but positive, energized, and aligned with the task at hand. To be caught in the ennui of depression or the agitation of anxiety is to be barred from flow.The hallmark of flow is a feeling of spontaneous joy, even rapture, while performing a task[2] although flow is also described (below) as a deep focus on nothing but the activity – not even oneself or one's emotions."
    I find flow to be a very good term describing my experiences with immersion, both in live action- and verbal role-playing. I come from the Nordic tradition, like you Elin, and find that the immersions I've had is neatly covered by this description of flow.

    Let me explain:

    When deeply engaged in my character, my higher self is experiencing great joy over actually being so profoundly immersed. While I am experiencing great pain or sorrow or anger or fear as my character, I am personally filled with joy too, over the authenticity of my experience. When my character is in love/joy/anticipation, these feelings is also mixed (strengthened) with the joy of my higher self. To me this is extremely rewarding. These "double moments" have a golden shine to them; as if the life of an angry or happy character shines in a glorious brilliance of transparency/insight/understanding.

    I's a dual experience of sympathy and empathy:
    - I am in sympathy with the character; feeling what it feels; being what it is.
    - I am in empathy with the character; seeing what it is and feels; understanding why; perceiving its soul with love.

    And the joy stems also from me recognizing that I have lost my control over the character, as in; the character will lead me, making decisions on its own grounds, and I'm willingly following it to the fields of immersive understanding. The moment I loose control, and let the will of the character roam freely, I'm in flow. The flow comes from surrendering myself to the game, making my body and soul into a vehicle for the character.

    But my higher self is still in attendance, sprinkling this experience with bright joy from the highest level of my existence.

    Love!
  • edited October 2011
    Posted By: RobMcDiarmidI very much don't think that joy of flow and the pain of immersing in character-driven negativity are mutually exclusive. Quite the opposite, in fact.
    Posted By: TomasHVMWhile I am experiencing great pain or sorrow or anger or fear as my character, I am personally filled with joy too, over the authenticity of my experience. When my character is in love/joy/anticipation, these feelings is also mixed (strengthened) with the joy of my higher self. To me this is extremely rewarding. These "double moments" have a golden shine to them; as if the life of an angry or dreary character shines in a glorious brilliance of transparency/insight/understanding.
    Yes. I don't see feeling these double level as feelings as anything opposite to feeling immersion and agree to much of what you are saying.

    I just wanted to point out that to me what define emotional character immersion is whatever you feel the character feelings or not. Not whatever you get the "high" or a flow. The high might be there. Or it might not be there. But the high of the flow feeling itself doesn't define emotional character immersion.

    Let say that you during an intense moment of a game doesn't get the high of the flow, you still really in tune with the characters emotions, let say you feel IC scared. If you still feel IC scared, but don't get the flow high, you are still immersed right? High or not, and no matter if you personalty meed that high to not be pushed OOC, the high isn't what defines immersion to me. Nor does is it to me what defines if the experience will be good or not. Right at that moment I might just feel scared, but I might still appreciate the experience a lot later.
  • edited October 2011
    Posted By: w176no matter if you personalty meed that high to not be pushed OOC, the high isn't what defines immersion to me.
    No, of course it is not.

    What defines immersion, in a role-playing game, is that you are in deep contact with the character.

    Flow is a key to understanding how you get into this kind of contact with your character. By keeping in flow, in concord with others, you are easily able to deepen the contact, maintaining it, and enjoying it while doing so.

    Playing the character in spontaneous and joyful interaction with other players, allows you to go into the really deep and enjoyable immersive state where you are one with the character. When the whole group go into this state, the game soars.
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