Let's talk about...IMMERSION

edited April 2006 in Play Advice
Okay, now that the atmosphere has cleared since my summary dismissal of Bruce Baugh, I'd like to bring up this ever-sticky topic and try to talk sensibly about it.

From the Forge provisional glossary:
<B>Immersion </B>
This term has no single definition. Some uses, among others, include: (a) undivided attention to the Shared Imagined Space, (b) the absence of overtly stating features of Social Contract and Creative Agenda, (c) strong identification with one's imaginary character. See <a href="http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?t=4640">thoughts on why immersion is a tar baby</a> by Emily Care and <a href="http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=8022.0">Immersion and story</a> by John Kim.


As a basis for this thread, I'd like to begin by asking if anybody has any problems with this gloss.

Choosing my words very carefully--it still seems to me that 'immersion' is a highly subjective term, and watching many debates have only confirmed me in this opinion. Therefore, I'd like to suggest that we either (a) define more precise terms or (b) agree to stop using the term except with the understanding that it means different things to different people.

As a preliminary, I will state that, according to the above gloss, I have myself been concerned with 'immersion' (in all three forms) at various time and places. I can also see how it might become a major priority for certain groups. I can even see how mechanics can influence your perception--I can't take systems that divide characters into 'classes' seriously, for example. The fact that many people claim to play 'immersively' with D&D, however, demonstrates to me that this feeling is entirely subjective. All I can really say is that class systems disturb me, and this is less than useful.

Perhaps appropriately, many people seem to feel a strong ownership of the term. I think that this derives from realising at some level that the term is subjective. That's cool--if you don't want to destroy the mystique, it's your head. Ideally, I'd like to see some recognition that mystique is what we're talking about. Now, I may be a crass materialist, but I'm quite prepared to recognise the irrational and the beautiful in life. So I don't think trying to lose yourself in the Allness is a negligible and unworthy goal (that's why I like to drop acid now and then).

So, any comments?
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Comments

  • Ok, two things.

    One is - your (a) and (b) are not mutually exclusive, so we can try to define more precise terms and stop using "immersion" in its current subjective meaning.

    Two is - regarding the Forge's provisional glossary term - I don't quite understand how immersion can be defined as "the absence of overtly stating features of Social Contract and Creative Agenda". I'd hazard to say that this absence is not really relevant to immersion. Yes, I am aware I'm operating under some sort of assumption of what "immersion" really is, but it is more of a way to say "I agree with nearly every definition of immersion I've seen on RPG discussions on many forums, and this is the only one I'm having a problem with".

    MarK.

  • Really? I think that one of the most common complaints I've seen is that eg setting stakes disturbs immersion. Clearly, this is a problem because it forces people to deal with social contract issues right then and there.

    But it's another example, because others have said that setting stakes doesn't disturb their immersion at all.
  • Hmm, I see your point, I just didn't see it as pertaining to social contract that much.

    MarK.
  • I think that there are those who see any discussion of "the meta" as disruptive to their immersion.

    However, while not entirely sure I can't take the other side of my own argument, I think that there are immersionist elements in all players as well as for want of a better term analytical elements.

    I whole heartedly encourage further discussion if for no other reason than a better understanding of this part of play will help other to develope this part of play.

    The parts of play which we have taken, in the last generation of games, to be reductionist about, may also be able to function in a more gestalt manner, and this might make a better game some day.
  • Hey, good topic, Droog! And a pain-in-the-ass one, too.

    But I think it's okay for the term to have more than one definition, assuming, like Thor says above, that they both relate to an avoidance of metagame talk during play.
  • Matt -I think that there can also be those who like metagame discussion and are immersionist.

    For example, and this is completely out of my ass, there might be players who, for whatever reason, decide that they want there two characters to hook up in the game. The metagame discussion need not interfere with the immersion if their immersion is based on identification with their chartacter.

    however if one players' imersion was based on complete in game causality, and the other player doesn't justify their actions, then they might have problems.
  • To folks who play and enjoy thematic games: Immersion is a reference to getting into character and said character taking on a life of their own.

    To folks who want system to get the hell out of their way: Immersion is the goal of wearing their character's skin, some ways of getting there are in-character role-playing and only knowing in-game information the character knows.

    This leads to a disconnect.

    Folks who play thematic games (that'd be me) don't like that self-identifying immersionists poop on some systems (Dogs always seems to come up).

    Folks who identify as immersionists don't like that thematic players poop on their way of playing as dysfunctional and quote something written on the Forge about Sim play.

    "You all play like poop, dysfuctional poop!"

    "You all poop on Sim and always have! Ron hates Sim and he teaches you to hate it through his kool-aid!"

    Blah blah blah blah blah.

    I think I just saved us from a long and drawn out Story Games Flame War.
  • I think I just saved us from a long and drawn out Story Games Flame War.

    I certainly hope not. Not that you saved us, but that there was a situation to save.

    You raise a point that has been raised many a time, though. Is one sort of 'immersion' really only a technique towards the sim CA? Or even a type of sim?

    As a self-identified 'thematic' player, do you actually refer to 'immersion' at all?
  • edited April 2006
    As a self-identified 'thematic' player, do you actually refer to 'immersion' at all?

    It is not an end-all be-all goal but it happens when play is hot.

    And mechanics can help, even so-called invasive mechanics like Dogs raises and Polaris' resolution mechanics.
  • Is one sort of 'immersion' really only a technique towards the sim CA? Or even a type of sim?

    Looks to me as if the answer might be "yes".

    If immersion is a Creative Agenda, then to my eyes it's related to Sim the most. Is it the primary aesthetic goal of the immersing player? If so, then it looks like Exploration-squared. "Living" in the SIS. Experiencing the Dream. Those who would like to escape the label of "Sim" might call it Immersionism (note that my Big-Model-Fu is weak, we might already have that one).

    If immersion is a Technical Agenda, then it's probably less closely related to Sim (duh). However, which CA would it support best? What are its limits? If the player's default mode of play is as immersive as possible, when does the Gam/Nar aesthetic (of enjoying the challenge/creating the story) actually "happen"? During play itself? As a kind of post-play reflection? I think that continual immersion in most cases is not well-suited (as a technique) to actively support Gam/Nar play (to some extent). It is well-suited to certain types of Sim play (at the very least for exploration of character, setting, color and even situation).

    Maybe labeling any type of immersion as "Sim" won't do much good, but it is more closely related to Sim than to the other two guys, as far as my understanding of GNS goes.

    MarK.

  • Um, guys, maybe you should wait and get some input from people who really see themselves as being immersion-oriented players, instead of defining what they do for them.

    I'm not trying to crack on what you're doing, which is good stuff. I'm just saying.
  • Well? Come on, then! Here's your chance!
  • What Jonathan said.

    Also, how are you going to deal with people like me, who are probably quite immersionist in practice (at least in some games) but would not identify by that term?

    Also, channeling Andy for a moment: what can we get out of a discussion of this term that will help us in a practical sense as designers, GMs and players?

    --Jess
  • A better understanding of each other? What I'd like from you in particular is to break down what you mean when you say you are 'immersionist in practice.'
  • It is certainly possible that we can improve the immersionist elements in some games.

    Or barring that make games that are not completely broken for Immersionists.

    If Sim is a creative agenda then there must be ways to support it. If Immersion is a flavor of Sim play, then there must be rules that it follows that lead people to enjoy that form.

    this is what we should be talking about.
  • Can I just point once again to my original post? I don't disagree with you, thor, but first we have to get on the same page about 'immersion'. How do people make games for 'immersionists' when we're not sure if said 'immersionists' are even talking about the same thing?
  • So, it sounds like you're defining "immersionist" as "wants mechanics out of the way" and "exploring the character's life on their own terms." Both of those are true of me, in certain games. (In others, I'm perfectly happy to turn to mechanics to resolve things. But you asked me about my immersionist-self.)

    When I'm doing this in practice, it means I often use setting and situation elements as "rules" rather than turn to dice, cards or other explicit resolution elements. I also use character and narrative reasoning.

    Let me give two brief examples, and then I'll go to lunch and you can all chew this over and tell me if it's useful. :)

    Both of them come from a long-term, free-form, one-on-one Ars game in which I have no character sheet and have never rolled dice. (Which is kind of comic, for Ars, I know!)

    Setting and situation elements as rules:
    During my character's apprenticeship, she wanted to learn a Perdo Vim spell to dispel some magic, without her pater noticing. I used the setting information about the demands of the apprenticeship to figure out how much time she would be able to steal to work on this, and my partner used the rules for spell levels to decide whether she'd be able to do it at all, even though she had no explicit stats and we never turned to rolling dice.

    Character and narrative reasoning:
    Recently, my character lost her temper at someone very important, who has become her enemy. I-the-player knew this was a bad idea, but the character felt so strongly about it that she went ahead and did it anyhow. (If you ever read novelists talking about how characters take on a life of their own, it was like that!) I also realized that it was time to just let this enmity simmer, as she'd recently neutralized a long-time antagonist and it was clear, narratively, that this was going to be a new one. I didn't stop and think explicitly about that latter bit until the end of the session, though it was likely an implicit part of my earlier decision-making (as, for example, I decided that the character should pursue other things instead of continuing to bang on this one problem).

    When I'm after immersion, I will throw out the mechanics (not the system, I've learned the difference!) of any game I play and just use the setting, situation, character and narrative to make decisions collaboratively.

    Which leads me to a question, too: do we only talk about player immersion? Can you be an immersionist GM?

    --Jess
  • Thanks for the answer. I have to go to bed right now, so I can't consider it yet.

    Try to keep on track, folks. Once again: any time you might use the word 'immersion', stop a minute and think about whether there is a more precise term. Consider, for example, that while Jess's use of the word would be correct for some people, others are going to disagree.

    I haven't yet defined 'immersion' in this thread. I'm pointing to the Forge glossary because it's a useful start and it links to a couple of good threads. The question is whether it's a useful term at all and how it might be made more useful.
  • Right. I guess I'm an immersionist. I've never thought of myself that way. But I always create a character in my head and then translate that as best I can to paper. Anything that happens on paper is a reflection of what happens in character, not the other way around. So any form of advancement is a reflection of what my character has done in-game to become more badass or whatever, not simply because I got enough XP to up all my stats. For me, it's all about getting to know my character and understanding how they work and think. So sometimes, during play, I have to stop and go "ok, what would my character do in this situation" because what is obvious to me is not necessarily what she would do. Or they have a different moral code, so what I would have them do is not what they would do.

    All that being said, I find mechanics invasive and disruptive if they take too much time. In polaris, I don't have a problem because things generally get resolved fairly quickly and then you go back to play. It's *part of* the creative story-telling experience. Whereas in D&D or White Wolf, etc. conflict resolution, particularly combat, takes forever in real time and completely upsets the flow of the game (as well as being forced to do addition, which I'm really bad at). Polaris, Dogs, etc. make no bones about being mechanics or about trying to maintain flow and also give justification about why the conflict resolved the way it did beyond a roll of the dice. That's probably a big one for me.

    Being an immersionist also means I have strange lingual disconnects around role-playing. I really don't understand the concept of GM advancement because the GM doesn't have a character. Since for me what advancement is based on is in-game events that happen to your character rather than system, the GM can't advance because they don't have anything *to* advance in-game. I also initially misunderstood and got upset about "the roleplayer's toolkit" because I was expecting something about how to actually *play* (i.e. become) your character, rather than things to help set up the game and your character. See, the act of playing and the act of setting up are two very different things to me, 'cause the former is getting inside your character's head and the latter is you preparing to do that. So I've run into linguistic confusions because the way I use some terms is not the way others use them.

    Sorry for the length, but hopefully the experiences of one immersionist will help! Oh, and I've given you my definition: characterisation.

    --Nancy
  • Also, channeling Andy for a moment: what can we get out of a discussion of this term that will help us in a practical sense as designers, GMs and players?
    Thanks Jess- Yeah, Thor and Droog seem to have OK answers for now, so we'll try and see what we can get out of it.

    But guys, Jonathan's right: It's IMO rude to talk about "immersionism" without any immersionists contributing to the thread (or if not rude, then skewed, and we need to proceed with caution). It's like the reverse of what happens when we see "GNS" "discussed" on EnWorld or RPGNet: A stoning.

    So as long as we can try to get down to the intentions of "Immersionists" without setting up their viewpoint for straw-man arguments or flying atomic piledrivers, I'm sure that if we proceed carefully something interesting might shake loose.

    -Andy
  • MoMo
    edited April 2006
    I self identify as an immersionist, and for the record, the following statements are true:
    • I do not object to meta-discussion of the character or the elements of the game, in a general sense.
    • I do however, dislike meta-discussion that interrupts the continuity of immersive play.
    • I do not expect that all mechanics and certainly not all system will get the hell out of my way.
    • I do, however, want mechanics that do not support immersive play to get the hell out of my way, there is a difference here.
    • I have no trouble having a vast and authoritative authoring influence on my character, and have little trouble transforming my character's direction into something that will befit the theme, the game or the social dynamic of the group.
    • I do, however need a sense of continuity and verisimilitude to the direction being taken in order to remain emotionally and intellectually plugged in to the game. Acheiving this may take time, and system support (social or mechanical).
    • Not all immersionists will agree with any or all of these statements.
    That's all I can think of now, and have to run to a family thang.
  • As someone who plays with lots of self-identified immersionists, I have to suggest that perhaps one of the things we should start off with in this thread is talking about specific techniques and the effects they generate. Starting off with the dictionary definition while we're all folks in a dark tent feeling different parts of an elephant is going to be frustrating, no joke.

    OTOH, if we talk about specific techniques that we use, that we don't use, and what kinds of effects they have on play we may be able to at one and the same time gain more understanding of the different kinds of immersion and of ways to functionally play with immersionists (for those of us who aren't) or how to improve our own play (for those of us who are).

    Just a suggestion.
  • Jess H said:(In others, I'm perfectly happy to turn to mechanics to resolve things. But you asked me about my immersionist-self.) And then Mo said:Not all immersionists will agree with any or all of these statements.This is an important point going forward (since this is turning into a very cool thread). I think talking about "immersionist" players is as bogus as talking about "narrativist" players or "power gamer" players. Individual players are vast and contain multitudes. Variety is the spice of life. If you're talking about "immersionist" players, that means there are also "non-immersionist" players. People can't just do one thing or the other. People can learn to play and enjoy playing all sorts of different ways.

    Personally, I wanna learn more about immersion so I can LEARN HOW TO DO IT BETTER and add those skills to my repertoire. And I'd hope that people who are already old immersion hands would be similarly interested in discovering the fun and fascinating possibilities of interrupted, negotiated, heavy meta-game play or other types of play that they might not have messed with before. That doesn't mean it has to become their New Favorite Way To Play, but everyone sticking to their guns and being "I only want to play My Way, ever!" is what created these barriers in the first place, yo.

    As this guy named Ron Edwards once said, when he proposed this classification system called GNS, "Label play styles; don't label people."
  • As this guy named Ron Edwards once said, when he proposed this classification system called GNS, "Label play styles; don't label people."

    It's a good thing he said that, because otherwise this GNS thing could have led to a whole lot of unproductive arguments on the internet.

  • QUIT THAT!

    I'm off to work now.
  • HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHA

    Okay, done giggling now.

    Brand, I like your idea about discussing specific practices, except that I have absolutely no idea where to begin. I don't call myself an immersionist (or a narrativist, or a gamist, or an anything-else-ist) or explicitly identify with a role-playing community beyond that of the people I happen to game with, so I wouldn't even know what I'm doing that's different from what other people do. Can you do your awesome ask-provocative-and-interesting-questions thing, please? :)

    Mo, I agree with just about everything you've said, at least for the majority of my play. But what, to you, are mechanics that support immersive play? What mechanics break immersion for you?

    --Jess
  • edited April 2006
    Yo Mo,
    I do, however, want mechanics that do not support immersive play to get the hell out of my way, there is a difference here.
    Quick clarification, which of these do you want out of the way: mechanics that do not support immersive play, or (more narrowly) mechanics that inhibit immersive play?

    That is, are you cool with mechanics doing whatever they want as long as it doesn't reduce your ability to do immersive stuff, or do you want each mechanic to actively assist you in it?

    Thomas
  • Rob's milkshake brings all the boys to the yard.
  • One question I'd like to ask Mo and Nancy and other Immersionists, something that I keep meaning to bring up: What games do you like? Do you modify/houserule them to play the way you like to play? You don't have to give it any deep thought and pitch "Immersionist Games!" or anything like that, I just want to get an idea of what you like to play.

    -Andy
  • edited April 2006
    It's a good thing he said that, because otherwise this GNS thing could have led to a whole lot of unproductive arguments on the internet.
    Thanks Rob, I needed that.

    Regarding immersion, I've found that most groups I've associated with that are the heaviest on what I identify as immersion are the ones that are the clearest about community building and trust issues and thus have the strongest social contracts.
  • Andy, I have to think hard about your question because my favourite games are most often because of the people than the game itself, so I have to be careful. That being said, I like Polaris, Burning Wheel, Nobilis, and Sorcerer. I can like just about any game if you bend the rules i.e. I had an elf in D&D create a patch of oil that enemies slip on, but can also create it on their weapons so they lose their grip, etc. In other words, go with reasonable applications for the spell/skill based on name rather than specific description. I like homebrew games where outcomes are flexible (I once played one where every roll you rolled 3d20: significance, favourability, and weirdness).

    I think what I like is where the game is focused on what your character can think to do with their resources rather than what the mechanics say they can do. I like games with more role-playing and less tromping through mechanics. I hugely dislike games with "crunchy" mechanics. I like games where the outcome of dice rolls/arbitration mechanics is determined by the players and/or the GM rather than a table in a book. In other words, I like games where outcomes are not pre-determined by something on which I have no influence. I like games where the emphasis is on playing your character rather than playing the system. You should not have to min/max your character for them to be effective or a valuable contribution to the party. I like games where taking a flaw is not detrimental or simply to get more points to spend somewhere else. I want to play games where the stories that come out of it aren't all about combat.

    hth,

    Nancy
  • Thomas:

    Good catch. Mechanics that *inhibit* immersive play. If they just provide no support for immersive play, but don't inhibit, that's OK. I can usually do fine on my own.

    Jess:

    That's a good question, and asks an answer I've been looking to give for a while. I had meant to return to it over on Sin Aesthetics a long while back, but never got there. Suffice to say I don't have a comprehensive answer.

    This is going to result in a different answer for different immersionists. For me: I don't mind doing meta work most of the time. I have no trouble at all verbalizing what is going on with the character, I know the character's dramatic stakes, I know the points of dramatic tension, and I can talk all day about them. I don't have trouble winning or losing, and am known for walking my characters into darkness to bring on the pain.

    However, I do have trouble when the system requires a constant interchange of mechanics throughout the immersion period (BtI does this). I emotionally socket to the game via the character, and that's where I need my attention focused to "feel" the socket working. Games that do this make me have to put my attention into the interchange of mechanical transactions rather than in engaging me via the character.

    Also in this category are overly complicated mechanics that break the emotional continuity of the scene. Charts and heavy modifiers are killers in this respect. Marvel Facerip is a good example of this... or Exalted. Exalted's combat drives me nuts. I'm there. I'm immersed, there's a crescendo going the emotional intensity is high, the drama is epic, the story is raging. I'm feeling and acting HARDCORE! and then oh, wait, we have to stop and reference charts and figure out what combination of skills and attribites, and how many dice, and roll a thousand of them and determine success and ping and soak and damage in task after task after task after task (it's like a beaurocratic nightmare) before we can settle the dramatic stakes, buy which time the dramatic tension and the in-character emotional continuity is lost in a barage of numbers and game processes.

    That doesn't mean that I don't like dice, or rolling them, or task sequenceses or mechanical processes. I just like ones that don't suck the vitality out of the emotional investment in the scene. I especially like ones that don't require breaking out at all, or minimally to get to resolution. It's also a bonus if task resolution can be nested inside conflict resolution, and if the general sense of success or failure can be sensed from the outset.

    I loves me some Dog's Conflict Resolution mechanics for this. I've got my game on, I'm comfortably immersed, I'm socketed terrifically. Sometimes I can declare my stakes in the game out of the mouth of the character and not have to break out at all. When I do, it's a simple declaration before I'm back in. There's more direct connection between what I'm doing and what I'm using. I roll them out and see my dice and see the GM's dice and I know where the conflict is likely to fall. In the task by task interplay of bidding and raising and escalating I can stay immersed and in the moment. Resolution happens silently in front of me. It's entirely an additive process... it does not break continuity or distract me from what's critical (to me) and (I think) to the game.

    Gaming, and especially immersion, is all about getting to my F and staying there for the duration fo the game.
  • One aspect of immersive play that I've been contemplating recently is the congruence of mental processes. I play with some people who find that mechanics that require them to think in ways that are very different from how their character is thinking at that moment of the game are very disruptive. Kind of like Mo talks about the connection between what she's doing and what she's using to do it. I'm not sure it's as strong for me as it is for some people I play with, but it is a factor.

    For me, during immersive play, I'm doing rather than thinking. It may be that what I'm doing is having my character stop and think, but I'm not consciously thinking that what I should do next is have that character stop and think. I'm not consciously planning what I will do from moment to moment. However, if you stop me at any point and ask me about what I'm doing, I can usually tell you why, how, how it relates to the overall story and various meta considerations. But that's because I like to play characters when I'm clear on how their heads work and what I'm aiming to do with them. When I know that clearly, in play itself I aim to do that without thinking about it from moment to moment.

    So stuff that makes me think about what I'm doing can reduce my fun. For example, dealing with rules I don't know well, adding up numbers (I have to think about what numbers I should be adding), rolling dice (which one should I use?), play which depends on player strategy (unless I know it really well and can do it by instinct and am playing with people who don't object when my gut leads me wrong and the result is we crash and burn), and so on.

    And one other thing to note is that I don't want to play this way all the time. Sometimes it is good to be thinking about what I'm doing, but I want to have a choice in when that is.

    Claire
  • Excuse me, but I'd like to chew on some stuff here if I may. I'm seeing here (and in other discussions about immersion, both online and offline) several things I think should be pointed out.

    One has to do with immersive faculties (is this the best term?) of players. The consistency, ease of, and intensity of immersion. Almost everyone, it seems, has it differently. Some don't mind "letting go" of immersive state as much as others. Some "slip" into the state easily, for others it takes time. Some can "hold" the state consistently and for a long period, some are easily distracted or are able to handle shorter periods. Some are aware of others' immersion, some aren't (for some the lack of it might even "break" immersion). For some there are levels of immersion, for others it's a binary state. Now, these are highly subjective, but I think also highly relevant factors when one wishes to determine where the "immersive zone" lies for others in the group. Joe and Sally can both say they're into immersion, but their immersion might be very different on many levels. (I think this ties into what Emily says on the Forge tar baby thread).

    Another has to do with resolution. I see many immersive players pointing out that focusing on the mechanical process of a game has a potential to disturb the immersive experience. Does this make Drama resolution mechanics generally more supportive of immersive play? Fortune mechanics less supportive (unless they are somehow tied into the SIS, such as cards in a Western-themed game)? Or is it only about "crunch"? If so, how much crunch can one hope to get away with? (Subjectivity rears its ugly head, but I'm just tossing the ball here).

    Last, but not least: I don't style myself an immersionist, not in the way people have described it here. However, I do like the game world to take on a "solid" quality, to feel as if "I'm in that place", and not necessarily "I'm that person". What are the relationships between the two? How is "setting immersion" relevant to "character immersion"?

    MarK.

  • There's a lot to sift through here, and I had an exceptionally long day today. I'm going to wait until tomorrow before commenting, if that's all right.
  • MarK said: However, I do like the game world to take on a "solid" quality, to feel as if "I'm in that place", and not necessarily "I'm that person". What are the relationships between the two? How is "setting immersion" relevant to "character immersion"?
    My answer would be that it seems that they're different sockets, but that they act in similar ways to gain focus on the game. However, because setting is often less immediate it is probably easier to stay "immersed" in setting than in character when faced with outside forces.

    This is all just wild guessing, btw.

    In terms of how well, long, easily and so on people can stay immersed, I'd say parts of it probably have to do with how they socket into game and what kind of skills they have developed. Believe it or don't there are large parts of immersionsit play that are highly skilled practices, and the different types of techniques (and the different skill levels of those using them) will have a lot to do with how well any individual can immerse in any given situation.

    I'd also guess that there are probably ties to the way you approach game. People that want to think their way to emotional investment in game will have a different focus and approach than those who want to feel their way to emotional investment in game. (This may have something to do with Claire's statement about "doing" rather than "thinking" -- Claire, let me know if you think that's wrong.) For more on feeling vs. thinking and such, check this post on Yud's Dice. (Yes, I promise I'll get to the second part eventually.)

    KJ said: Brand, I like your idea about discussing specific practices, except that I have absolutely no idea where to begin. I don't call myself an immersionist (or a narrativist, or a gamist, or an anything-else-ist) or explicitly identify with a role-playing community beyond that of the people I happen to game with, so I wouldn't even know what I'm doing that's different from what other people do. Can you do your awesome ask-provocative-and-interesting-questions thing, please? :)
    Uh... maybe. Here is a try at it.

    When I play RPGs I think of what I am doing in terms of story and my investment into the story (I have a story socket into RPGs, it is where I get my groove on). So when I approach game, even as a player, I approach it in terms of telling a story first and having a character, setting, or campaign second, third, and fourth, with the mechanics focus of the game being important only in so far as it supporsts my a and b priorities. Because of this I do not think of my character as an individual to get to know, inhabit, or understand through deep empathic projection (using the classical definition of empathy as: "The power of projecting one's personality into (and so fully comprehending) the object of contemplation.") Character is important to me the same way it is as when I am wwriting a story -- character + situation = plot and all that. But to have a deep and abiding relationship with the character? It rarely happens, and even when it does it is not the object of my fun in the game.

    This isn't to say that I won't get emotional about a character. In a good game I will, but it is because the story brings me to that emotionality, rather than the other way around. I cry when I watch Fellowship of the Ring and Boromir dies -- and I'd cry the same way in an RPG where I was playing Boromir. But I do so because of what the story has done, and then because of a sense of identification with what Boromir represents. So character is important, but not the thing that gives me my Fun Now in an RPG.

    This also means that when I start playing a game in order to be excited about it I need to have some idea of the kinds of stories we're going to be able to tell. This is why premise (especially as forumlated here is so important to me: it lets me have an idea of the story, to engage with that quickly, and to build things that will fit that story and let me powerfully interact with it.

    Now Mo, otoh, has a character socket into RPGs. She gets her emotional investment into game through her character. She needs to know her character before she can get excited about the story, she needs to have that empathic (remember my definition of empathy) connection to her character to get her Fun Now, and she needs to have a game that supports her ability to author her character without forcing her to constantly be reacting to the game by constructing it from the outside -- she needs to be able to construct it (at least partly) from the inside.

    So, with that background, let me try for some questions.

    When you think about game, what it is that you think about first that gets you excited? The characters? The story? The situation? The address of premise? The game mechanics? (Yes, we all probably think about all of those things -- which is most important?)

    Is it most important before game? Durring game? After game?

    When you play do you want to be feeling it right now, or thinking through it right now so that you can get your emotional intensity later? Do you want to be doing, or thinking?

    Do you get frustrated with meta game chatter? Short amounts of it? Long amounts of it? Would you be happy if 90% of game was IC, and only 10% talking about things meta-level? Would you be happy if 90% of game was OOC meta-level talk, and only 10% of it IC acting?

    (At this point I'd strongly recommend to everyone that they check out the Nine Worlds Skype game mp3 as it gives a very strong representation of one kind of play that is relevant to what I am asking above.)

    Do you strongly author your games, or do you like to have an organic game in which you react to the world? When/if you author, do you want to do it through your character or through meta-game controls? Both? Do you want to do it explicitly (I am going to do this) or implicity (oh wow, I just did that!)?

    It it important to you to feel strongly emotionally connected to your character? Before you start? As you play? In reflection looking back on the game? Do you get that connection by understanding your character externally? Internally? By seeing the world through your character's eyes? By seeing the character through the eyes of the world, of the story, of the mechanics?

    Do you ever want to be your character? Understand your character? Use your character as an external controller?

    Is your character your avatar? Your voice in the world? Your direct voice into the world (ie the character is just a chance to play you in a different place)? Is your character a character you play to learn something or explore something? Is that something internal to the character, or part of situation, story, or world? Or is the character something that you get to be so that you aren't yourself? For what purpouse do you not want to be yourself?

    (For the above if anyone is having trouble seeing some of the different types of answers that might come to those questions, I recommend reading this thread on Fair Game. There will be other answers than those, and some of them could be very positive -- and I'd love to hear them.)

    Um... there are probably more, and I'm sure I'm missing some obvious ones, but that should be a place to start.
  • Can I get a consensus around here about how close that Skype cast comes to the games you play at home? Is it typical? Pretty close, a "little over" there from what you do or really freaking different?
  • Interestingly the Skype game (which I'm involved in) is only illustrative of how I play sometimes. I don't know what that says, but I'm sure it's something cool.

    Thomas
  • Mo,

    The 9 Worlds Skype recording is very, very similar to the way I most enjoy playing. It's not, however, wholly typical of the way I DO play. Regularly, I find myself being distracted by the immersion of either myself or others and missing out on some opportunities to engage in juicy conflicts.

    How's that for odd?

    Regards,
    Daniel
  • When you think about game, what it is that you think about first that gets you excited? The characters? The story? The situation? The address of premise? The game mechanics? (Yes, we all probably think about all of those things -- which is most important?)

    Is it most important before game? Durring game? After game?


    The trickiest is that these things feed each other. Characters just sitting around with no situation are dull, but a good situation highlights the characters. I focus on different ones for different games. So, for example, in Buffy the story and themes were very prominent. But most commonly my focus is on the characters.

    When you play do you want to be feeling it right now, or thinking through it right now so that you can get your emotional intensity later? Do you want to be doing, or thinking?

    Doing, most certainly. I often opt for an impulsive character for this reason, because I like to have actions going on.

    Do you get frustrated with meta game chatter? Short amounts of it? Long amounts of it? Would you be happy if 90% of game was IC, and only 10% talking about things meta-level? Would you be happy if 90% of game was OOC meta-level talk, and only 10% of it IC acting?

    I tend to get frustrated with out-of-game chatter -- particularly pure digressions (i.e. talk about some movie or whatever) and rules discussion in the middle of the game. I don't generally mind narration or commentary on the action though as long as it is relevant. I also don't mind slotting time to handle pure mechanical or background discussion as long as it is clearly separated from the game action.

    Do you strongly author your games, or do you like to have an organic game in which you react to the world? When/if you author, do you want to do it through your character or through meta-game controls? Both? Do you want to do it explicitly (I am going to do this) or implicity (oh wow, I just did that!)?

    Hm. I generally prefer the focus to be on character choices or actions rather than external circumstances or events. So I would say I prefer to strongly author games through in-character actions. I'm not sure I get the explicit vs. implicit part. I prefer to clearly state character action, which I guess is explicit (?).

    (Incidentally, I've encountered a curious attitude from some people regarding authorship. Some people will say that if you declare something which your character would say, then you're not authoring. That seems very strange to me.)

    It it important to you to feel strongly emotionally connected to your character? Before you start? As you play? In reflection looking back on the game? Do you get that connection by understanding your character externally? Internally? By seeing the world through your character's eyes? By seeing the character through the eyes of the world, of the story, of the mechanics?

    Do you ever want to be your character? Understand your character? Use your character as an external controller?


    It's important to me to feel emotionally connected to the character during play. Before or after are interesting but not required. Um, I guess I tend to get that connection to the character internally -- because I don't usually get much from other people's descriptions for my character. However, I certainly get a lot out of other people speaking as their characters and/or the narrating background or action within the world.

    I'm fairly Design-At-Start compared to Develop-In-Play, to use the rgfa terminology. So I like to have a fairly detailed character who will change and be filled in during play, but who is fairly coherent and detailed at the start.

    Is your character your avatar? Your voice in the world? Your direct voice into the world (ie the character is just a chance to play you in a different place)? Is your character a character you play to learn something or explore something? Is that something internal to the character, or part of situation, story, or world? Or is the character something that you get to be so that you aren't yourself? For what purpouse do you not want to be yourself?

    This seems to be a a subjective question about how I picture my character in relation to myself, right? I tend to picture a character as a piece of myself -- something which helps me reflect on my experiences as well as what I've been exposed to. I would say that whatever is there to explore is inside the character, but it can only be accessed by help from the situation, story, and world.
  • edited April 2006

    I started a longer post to try to answer all of Brand's questions, but I've put it on hold. Here's what I wrote about the Skype 9W game:

    I'm listening to it right now and it's completely anti-immersive (IMHO) up to 40% of the way through. But that's all just general introduction and character introduction. Then Matt sets a scene and assumes there's going to be a conflict which is then framed and negotiated, with different players throwing out ideas and approving or rejecting them. Matt then sums up with "So, this is the situation, and the conflict is, and here are the goals of the various characers." If I were one of the players, I'd find this all really, extremely, utterly anti-immersive. Of course, Matt is also guiding the play of the game and teaching the rules, so things might be more "natural" once the rules are better understood and the players are better at conveying their intentions without having to spend a lot of time on clarification.

    Later I notice that Fred (?) has to ask Matt about the use of his own character's metamorphosis power, with Matt providing most of the details and narration. Again, this is totally backwards from how I'd do things in my conception of immersion. Instead I'd expect to be able to ask for information about the world & situation, then creatively apply my metamorphosis power using those details.

    And in answer to Brand's question about tolerance for metagame chatter,

    I'd be gritting my teeth during that Skype game and wondering when we get to the fun. But that has more to do with the type of chatter--all that negotiation about the conflicts, all the explication of how the rules work. By contrast I enjoy a moderate amount of commentary in reaction to the game, up to and including ironic stuff like the MST3K audience chatter.

  • John,

    Damn fine answers. So one more question: Would you consider yourself an immersionist? Immerionsit compatible? Non-immersionist? Anti-immersionist?
  • Daniel,

    Interestinger and Interestinger. How do you see immersion blocking juicy conflicts in your play? Can you give us any AP examples?

    Myself, I've seen several different takes on this. Mo, for example, drives game towards juicy conflict while being immersed so hard that if she were able to do so better I'd probably have to hide rather than GM. I think she does this because it drives her game, character, and self towards a deeper and more emotional place where the story and her character's choices really start sparking fire.

    OTOH, I have had some other players who are less into the "empathic inhabitation" angle and more into the "my character is my avatar and effectivly IS me" angle who will avoid any conflict in which their character could be made vulnerable or look bad because it would be much the same as making themselves vulnerable or making themselves look bad.
  • Brand_Robins wrote:
    Damn fine answers. So one more question: Would you consider yourself an immersionist? Immerionsit compatible? Non-immersionist? Anti-immersionist?

    I guess "immersionist-compatible" sounds good. I play a pretty wide variety of games -- including some that I find highly non-immersive, like D&D or Once Upon a Time. But I've also played being kids lost in the woods in winter by... walking around in the woods in winter, where every movement and word for a two hours is in-character.
  • edited April 2006
    Hopefully I can get to answering at length like John did, at some point.

    BTW, my reaction to the 9W game is not me putting down other people's fun. It's raw data for your delectation.

    Something to add in the meantime. While I was grabbing lunch I thought back to the metagame discussions I've had in the long-running campaigns I've been involved in. To distinguish and clarify what John wrote about chatter, I strongly agree that digressions about movies and other stuff not immediately related to the game is very annoying. But there has probably been more metagame negotiation than I originally recognized above--it just wasn't called for explicitly with each resolution, and it generally wasn't framed within the rules, although it could be about the rules.

    Example 1: Steve's character casts a spell to turn a pebble into a small spider that he sends off to reconnoiter beyond a stone wall. Minutes later the spider returns and David, the GM, says "Nothing to report. It didn't see anything." Steve then makes a downward motion with his index finger while making a squishing sound. "Useless!" he says. Amidst generally hilarity, David awards Steve 25 XP (a pittance). One or two players object (possibly including Steve) to the award, while David says, "But that was great roleplaying!" (Awards in the group were generally an equal amount per player in a given session, but varying per session.) A brief bit of good-natured squabbling & browbeating ensues; frankly I don't remember what the outcome was, but it was quickly settled and we moved on.

    Example 2 (this one made up, but fairly typical): As the party travels across the countryside, they spy a group of steppe-nomads of a tribe which is known to serve as mercenaries for the enemy. They've got the drop on them, and can probably defeat them in a set-piece ambush, but the players decide to use some kind of distraction spell to separate the nomads from their horses, then kill the horses--taking the corpse of the strongest one to replace the mount of Ted's necromancer, whose existing zombie-nag is getting a bit ripe--and leave the nomads stranded without bothering to take them on in combat. "But that's no fun!" says David. "Don't you want to have a battle?" But even though he really did prepare for a fight, the players insist, David rolls his eyes and acts comically put upon, and the plan is carried out.

    I think the point here is that a certain amount of metagame negotiation certainly can feed back into game actions, but the formal division of GM/player authority was the default. It may not make sense intellectually, but I'm going to suggest that while immersion (my version) is hampered by explicit negotiation integral to the procedures, it isn't affected by having social negotiation available. As if, playing my character, I don't want to make something happen that's outside his realm of control. But I'm pretty much okay with making the GM make it happen, if that's absolutely necessary to my enjoyment of the game.

    (Weird. And very provisional.)
  • Eliot,

    I'm not fully sure what to make of the example. I think you're onto something (for some types of immersionists, at least) -- but I'm not sure what it is.

    Do you think there is a difference between times when you chose to step out and times when you are forced to step out, in terms of how it effects your ability to stay in character flow?
  • edited April 2006
    I know I would be more likely to step out when there's already something that annoys me in terms of believing what's going on. If I were to tell the GM "that's bogus" it wouldn't be because I was trying to gain some advantage. in short, stepping out at those times carries no penalty at all in terms of disrupting immersion.

    Making a comment or cracking a joke is a different matter. It's not done in-character, but it has no effect on my enjoyment of immersion. That's probably a reflection of one way that I'm not a "deep IC immersionist".

    I'm not sure if I've answered your question. I'll just rephrase what I wrote in my last post: if it takes (noticeable amounts of) out-of-character negotiation and decsionmaking to set up and resolve whatever my character is doing, then there's very little in-character enjoyment/focus. (There may be other kinds of enjoyment.) E.g., Polaris is structured in a such a way that I'm going to make decisions that would never be in the power of the character to decide. Diagnosis: non-immersive, but (based on one play) fun--because the negotiation process itself is fun.
  • Thanks, Brand. Go go structuring questions!

    I have a variety of different ways that I play, but I definitely have themes that cross my various play-styles. When I have to choose a play-style to "speak with the voice of" (so to speak) then I will try to pick the one that seems most immersionist to me, I guess. :)

    When you think about game, what it is that you think about first that gets you excited? The characters? The story? The situation? The address of premise? The game mechanics? (Yes, we all probably think about all of those things -- which is most important?)

    As a GM (is it possible to be an immersionist GM?), it's almost always situation (or possibly story - I'm still a little shaky on the distinction). I want to put the characters into an interesting, concrete situation that's going to provoke them to do interesting things. The genre and feel of the game has a lot to do with this as well, though. For example, in the game of Nobilis that I'm running, I had the idea of a contest between Heaven and Hell to best embody their principles in a human life. I stuck the characters into the situation, put up an interesting prize as the stakes, and let 'em rip. But what was exciting to me was not only the situation that I put them in, and the story that I envisioned coming out of it (what is beauty? what is suffering?) but also the structures of the game world that made it possible to even create that situation.

    As a player, it's about 50/50 character and story. I have a hard time separating the two, because when I design a character, I design the story tensions that they can't really avoid confronting. For example, in a 7th Sea game that I played in, I played a rather financially strapped and unsuccessful courtesan. I got really into the idea of playing a character who was the 'working stiff' of the courtesan world, but also into the arc that I foresaw for her. Whether it was going to be a spiral down into failure which would end with her having to take up another line of work, or the development of successes that would only highlight the character flaws that were causing her trouble, I knew enough about the story to be really excited. At the very least I knew that things couldn't reasonably stay the same.

    This is occasionally not true, of course - for example, in my current Ars game, we're playing birth-to-death. I had no idea who the character was when I created her, or what the story would be about, as the first scenes we ran were when she was about four years old.

    In neither case do I get excited about mechanics. The mechanics, in my mind, are there to help me do the interesting bits of the game - whether that's be deeply in character or resolve conflict in dramatic ways.

    Is it most important before game? Durring game? After game?

    During and after a game, story (or is it situation?) is most important. No matter how neat the character is, if they aren't getting to be doing interesting things in interesting, concrete situations then I'm not that into it. In fact, I most hate having a beloved, interesting character who's stuck in a boring story. Before the game, I tend to obsess a little more about character (at least when I'm a player) because that's the only thing that I can reasonably control or expect.

    When you play do you want to be feeling it right now, or thinking through it right now so that you can get your emotional intensity later? Do you want to be doing, or thinking?

    I want to be doing. The emotional intensity of play, for me, happens while I am actually playing. Thinking about it later is a very different pleasure - more of an, "Oh, cool, look what I did! Hey, I bet if we just pushed this a little further . . . " But during play I want to be reacting organically to the events of the plot as if our consensually imagined world were completely real.

    As a GM, this reverses almost completely. I am a completely thinky GM; I'm always thinking ahead, planning, figuring out how to be HARDCORE! and watching player reactions. I can slip into the organic-reactivity mode for brief periods when I'm playing an NPC, but I always come back to think-think-think-plan mode quickly.

    Do you get frustrated with meta game chatter? Short amounts of it? Long amounts of it? Would you be happy if 90% of game was IC, and only 10% talking about things meta-level? Would you be happy if 90% of game was OOC meta-level talk, and only 10% of it IC acting?

    Some kinds of meta-game chatter refreshes and energizes me. Other kinds, I absolutely hate.

    Like John, I hate irrelevant chatter (i.e. movie talk) and rules discussions during the game. I don't have much tolerance for stopping play to handle mechanics, either, even though I do it - in my mind, the ideal resolution system could be handled silently during play, without anyone even having to pause.

    On the other hand, I love suggestions and commentary on the game itself, which I find very rich sources of inspiration and completely energizing. I also really like it when other group members bring up things that might be relevant, but that I maybe hadn't thought of. (For example, in our Rome game the players often remind me, "The last time I met this character, here's what happened," because we have a very large NPC cast.)

    The best kind of meta-game chatter, though, is the oohs, aahs and applause - we're a very audience-y group. When someone does something cool, there'll be cheering, shouts of "HARDCORE!" and applause; during dramatic moments, people will sometimes shout suggestions for how to heighten the tension.

    Do you strongly author your games, or do you like to have an organic game in which you react to the world? When/if you author, do you want to do it through your character or through meta-game controls? Both? Do you want to do it explicitly (I am going to do this) or implicity (oh wow, I just did that!)?

    I both strongly author my games and have an organic game in which I react to the world. I do this by having the authoring take place through the character and what the character does in the world. (Or, if I'm the GM, I build in-game-world structures that will organically produce the kinds of conflicts I'm looking for.) This kind of authoring tends to be very implicit, even when it's planned. For example, in a medieval fantasy game where I played a female knight, I knew she was going to have big gender-identity issues. I never stopped during play and said, "How can I bring these up?" Instead, I put her into situations where it would be a conflict for her, and then noticed when the situation successfully gave her problems. I had her get involved in a tournament, for example, where the no-lady-love issue would definitely come up. Then I noticed that it wasn't just coming up, it was coming up in a really interesting way ("Oh, hey, she's totally feeling that she can't be a real knight now unless she has a ladylove, so I guess she'll go find one!") and I knew I wanted to follow that up. Now I had a new quietly implicit goal to push against.

    I also use meta-game control systems, but almost exclusively between sessions rather than during play. I'll notice things like which antagonists are working and which aren't, for example. But I really hate to think about things this way during an actual session.

    More in next post. :)

    --Jess
  • It it important to you to feel strongly emotionally connected to your character? Before you start? As you play? In reflection looking back on the game? Do you get that connection by understanding your character externally? Internally? By seeing the world through your character's eyes? By seeing the character through the eyes of the world, of the story, of the mechanics?

    What I like best about playing a character is being able to think the way that character thinks, and to feel the way she feels. It's like slipping on a mask to look different, but this is a mask of the mind and a mask of the heart. I find that when I'm playing a character really well, my inner monologue will actually change to use the character's voice. I will be able to be the character, and to surprise myself with things that totally make sense for the character but that I never would have consciously chosen to say or to do as the character.

    I don't really get emotionally attached to the character before play, even though I can get very attached to ideas about her or to my notion of what her conflicts in play will be. The litmus test, for me, is whether I can speak in the character's voice. Once the character has a voice of her own, which isn't my voice, then I begin to be attached emotionally.

    During play, I'm definitely emotionally connected to the character. I can easily subsume myself in the character during play, as I mentioned above.

    Once a game ends, though, my attachment is pretty much over. I stay very attached to the character's story but I find that I almost always lose the ability to speak as the character once I'm not playing her regularly, and that's a sign for me of losing direct emotional attachment.

    Finally, I find that I create my relationship to the character through a mix of internal understanding (what drives her? what does she fear?), external understanding (what are her abilities? what is her archetype?) and seeing the world through her eyes (how has she reacted to the things that have happened to her in her life?).

    Do you ever want to be your character? Understand your character? Use your character as an external controller?

    I don't want to be my character - I just want to wear her like a mask. I do have to understand her really well to do that. Treating her as an external controller just gets in the way.

    Is your character your avatar? Your voice in the world? Your direct voice into the world (ie the character is just a chance to play you in a different place)? Is your character a character you play to learn something or explore something? Is that something internal to the character, or part of situation, story, or world? Or is the character something that you get to be so that you aren't yourself? For what purpouse do you not want to be yourself?

    My character (and I guess I'm speaking fully in player-head at this point) is always someone who is a part of me, but also someone who is significantly different from me. She is someone I understand enough to portray, but I'm not interested in just playing myself in an imagined world. I want to be multitudes, if I haven't killed that phrase already: I want to explore what it's like to be old, young, gay, straight, beautiful, deformed, brilliant, stupid, beloved, lonely, wealthy, struggling, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. I do generally have something specific that I want to explore - for example, for my Ars character it's pride and justice, and it's also my first experiment in playing a deeply religious Christian which has been really interesting and difficult for me. However, that exploration has to take place in an organic way that comes out of the consensually imagined reality of the character's world.

    --Jess
  • KJ,

    It's going to take me like a year and a half to respond to everything in those posts! Jebus! Rich stuff there. So for now I'm going to focus in on a few issues that jump out at me. These DO NOT have anything specific to do with the general beast of immersion, and have to do very specifically with the kind of cross-immerionist-nar play that I get often at my table. Since you seem so very compatible with my style, I must grill you. So, let us go: As a GM (is it possible to be an immersionist GM?), it's almost always situation (or possibly story - I'm still a little shaky on the distinction)
    Three things here:

    1. It is possible to be an immerisonist anything, I guess. Mo has started talking about things in terms of sockets -- the places where you plug into game to get the emotional validation/coolness that you want out of game. If you have a particularly deep connection with any socket it could lead to immersion (though mechanical immersion seems an odd one to me, but someone somewhere may do it). Under this model what many people call "immersion" would be "character socket immersion" -- or "character immersion."

    I think it would be hard to be a GM and deep character immersionist (character submersionist? -- the state in which you are subsumed under your character?) because it requires a very dedicated focus. However, being a GM who immerses into story or situation should be possible. I know that when I get my deep flow on as a GM I can get to a point of involvement in the story in which the external world becomes vastly unimportant. (Ever been so into a movie or book that you forget the time and don't notice when the sun sets, phone rings, or something else? Yea, like that.)

    2. When I say "situation" I mean the combination of character, world, and momentum that will cause the explosions. The story is the emergent thing which grows out of that in response to the choices, actions, and statements made by the PCs and the group as a whole as play goes on. I get excited about situation, but I only get deeply into story. (Situation is a thought process and construction to me, story is something that happens durring or because of game -- even when it isn't always clear what is happening at the moment.)

    3. I think the split you talk about is pretty common among folks who share a lot of play techniques and foci with you. Mo, I think, does a very similar thing. I, otoh, approach playing much the same as GMing -- I just have a narrower focus.
    This is occasionally not true, of course - for example, in my current Ars game, we're playing birth-to-death. I had no idea who the character was when I created her, or what the story would be about, as the first scenes we ran were when she was about four years old.
    How did you find this affected your approach to the game, and the play of the game? I mean, did you use different techniques? Get a different emotional connection to the game? How did you author the game, the character? Did the same methods you use when you build story and character together work for you? Did you have to do different things?
    In fact, I most hate having a beloved, interesting character who's stuck in a boring story.
    This I find deeply interesting because I have repeatedly seen a few different responses like this. Mo's response is much like yours. Others (deep immersionists/submersionists) say that it doesn't matter what happens in the game, so long as they get to play their character. I, otoh, can't conceive of having a beloved or interesting character in a boring story. No interesting story = no interesting character. Characters aren't interesing when I make them, they only become so once I'm playing.

    So, do your characters get interesting through play? More interesting through play? Or are they interesting when you create them?On the other hand, I love suggestions and commentary on the game itself, which I find very rich sources of inspiration and completely energizing. I also really like it when other group members bring up things that might be relevant, but that I maybe hadn't thought of.
    So, when you break flow for something you don't like, does it take you out of the groove? What about breaking flow for things you do like? Or do you find that your "flow" isn't about "being in character"? What is it about? What helps it? What kills it? I also use meta-game control systems, but almost exclusively between sessions rather than during play. I'll notice things like which antagonists are working and which aren't, for example. But I really hate to think about things this way during an actual session.Do you ever feel limited by this? Have you in the past had to learn skills to help you get the things you want while using metagame issues only outside the main flow? Like, if your GM is heading someone one way, and you want it to go another, do you still deal with it IC, or do you go OOC at that? Or do you deal with that IC? Or other ways? Tell us your secrets!What I like best about playing a character is being able to think the way that character thinks, and to feel the way she feels. It's like slipping on a mask to look different, but this is a mask of the mind and a mask of the heart. Have you ever read Impro by Johnstone, or other works on theatrical training and mask play? Because, if'n you have, how do you find their theory connects or doesn't connect with how you play?

    Also, as a personal interest issue, have you ever played a game with an actual mask to represent your character? Has anyone else?
    Once a game ends, though, my attachment is pretty much over. I stay very attached to the character's story but I find that I almost always lose the ability to speak as the character once I'm not playing her regularly, and that's a sign for me of losing direct emotional attachment.
    Very interesting. I know a lot of immersionists who say this -- character voice is very important to them, and after a game is over (or after long breaks) they can lose the ability to easily channel the character voice.

    Does this only happen with you at the end of a story? Does it happen if you quit in the middle of a game and go a year without playing the character? I do generally have something specific that I want to explore - for example, for my Ars character it's pride and justice, and it's also my first experiment in playing a deeply religious Christian which has been really interesting and difficult for me.
    So do you find that your ability to immerse in a character increases your ability to address theme/premise? Does it do so for you only, or for the whole group? That is to say, do you think the rest of the group gets a chance to see the rich interior world of your character? If so, what techniques do you use to get that across?
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