Fundamentals of Immersion

May 29

Annotated Bibliography

Geertz, Clifford. “Deep play: notes on the Balinese cockfight. Daedalus. Fall 2005, 134, 4: Research Library. pg 56

  • Largely an anthropological treatise on the Balinese. There is some exploration of cultural play and on the imperatives informing “deep” vs “shallow” play
    • “status” play is correlated to “deep” play while “money” play is correlated to shallow play
    • Does immersive play necessitate a certain amount of status, cultural cache or class? Is this why, at a glance, (and to be highly general) “blue-collar” types seem less interested or even baffled by immersivity?
    • Geertz lays out a series of facts that influence the depth of a given cockfight. This taxonomy is intriguing as a method for categorizing the depth of immersion
    • “It is a story they tell themselves about themselves”
  • Deep Play: from Bentham The Theory of Legislation.
    • play in which the stakes are so high that it is irrational to engage in it at all
    • In “genuine” deep play this is true for both parties
      • The play will net pain, collectively
    • Therefore Deep Play is immoral, says Bentham
  • Such play (to the Balinese, argues Geertz) is a symbol of moral import
  • “status gambling” is correlated to deep fights and “money gambling” is correlated to shallow fights
  • the cockfight in Bali is a dramatization of social concerns
    • expected to bet on a bird owned by kin or friends, eg
  • Social clout is correlated with the deep play cock fights
    • Balinese cock fighting is deep b/c of  the potential loss of status on the line
      • is Immersion deep play because of the removal of social safety mechanisms? The necessary excision of defense mechanisms in order to allow new experiences to take root?
    • Betting activates village and kingroup rivalries but in “play” form
    • no ones’ status really changes
    • “It is a story they tell themselves about themselves”

Konzack, Lars. “The Wunderkammer-Gesamtkunstwerk Model: A Framework for Role-Playing Game Analysis and Design.” Digra 2015, 14 May 2015.

  • Describes the Wunderkammer-Gesamtkunstwerk (Wu-Ge) Model
    • Subcreation
      • Worldbuilding
    • Ludus
      • Game mechanics and rules
    • Performance
      • RPG performed by players
    • Narrative
      • Storyline
    • Cabinet of Curiosities (Wunderkammer, “chamber of wonders”)
  • Structure based on two dichotomies:
    • Concrete vs Abstract
      • Performance & Narrative are Concrete, Ludus & Subcreation are Abstract
    • Action vs Contemplation
      • Performance and Ludus are Action, Subcreation and Narrative are Contemplation
  • A matrix of physicality/action/concretion vs abstraction/contemplation/conceptualized, similar to the direction I am exploring my study.
  • LARP compared to improv or performance theatre (Choy, Fatland, Flood, Lampo)
  • Tabletop RP is unique in that there is no external audience
    • a distinct literary/gaming tradition of their own
  • GNS Theory (Ron Edwards)
    • Gamism
      • competition
    • Simulationism
      • exploration of the fictional world
    • Narrativism
      • creation of story via roleplaying
  • Three Way Model (Bockman)
    • player behavior, style of play
    • Dramatists
      • storyline
      • argues this is the same as Narrationist
    • Gamists
      • solving
    • Immersionists
      • Living the role in a 360 illusion
      • vicariously live out characters (argues that this is the same as Simulationism)
  • Prior research. Largely focused on player behavior, not on conceptual theory. Possibly useful when designing immersive experiences, but not likely useful in the context of developing a theory of immersion
  • Wunderkammer term is taken from proto-museums,
    • “a microcosm of wonders that trigger imagination and ingenious thoughts as to the greater macrocosmos of which it is a representation”
    • “a macrocosmos not only of fictional laws, but ideal and fictional entities”
  • Proto-museums are an interesting avenue into pre-industrial worldbuilding and immersion!
  • WK means “tabletop RPGs have the ability to insert features into the setting and genre and make it somehow fit the feel or mood of the rest of the collection of ideas.”
  • Every item becomes a natural part of the collection
  • An artefact dropped into a RPG world becomes appropriate and contextualized by the setting (eg a Crystal Skull in D&D vs Call of Cthulhu)
  • Everything need not add up in the Aristotelian Theatre manner, where all parts must serve the performance.
  • The Wunderkammer is applicable to transmedia storyworlds – arguably, every storyworld milieu serves as a Wunderkammer as well
  • Gesamtkunstwerk (“all-embracing art form”)
    • term from Wagner (1850)
    • “Every part of the role playing game works together as a complete experience with as many powerful effects as possible
    • Only when each of Performance Narrative Ludus & Subcreation work together that the experience becomes a “proper” tabletop RPG one
    • Wagner wanted opera to have all its components work as one
    • “The aim is to get as much as possible out of what the medium… can offer”
  • Performance
    • Defined as pure drama analyzed through performance studies
    • central is the process of playing a character
    • an essential part of RPGs
    • does not assume a separate audience
      • necessitates a greater degree of introspection
      • “more literary”
    • about narrative and play – play-like routines
    • the true content is the presentation and exhibition of the performer
      • narrative and play are support of the performance
  • Narrative
    • the narrative structure through which the action unfolds
    • presented in an orderly fashion, but not a fixed narrative
    • Berger Rognli & Westlund narratologists
    • interactive narrative is made dynamic through player activity
  • Ludus
    • game-features
      • game mechanics
      • “deep play” (Geertz) <– check this out
      • Game classification (Caillois)
      • games as culture (Huizinga)
  • Sub-Creation
    • From Tolkien
    • refers to the fictional world of the roleplaying
    • few researchers go into detail about how shared worlds work
  • Action
    • Performance and Ludus
    • Ludus is applying abstract rules to adjudicate the results of Performance
  • Contemplation
    • Sub-creation and Narrative
    • designer must avoid suspension of disbelief in which anything can happen without reason or consequence
    • instead build on the concept of Inner Consistency of Reality
    • everything is there for a reason
  • Concrete vs Abstract
  • The factors in Konzack’s framework can be applied to immersive experiences as well as traditional RPGs. In Konzack’s terms, the immersive experience (like the RPG) is a Gesamtkunstwerk whose Wunderkammer of objects can be explored by player-audiences. Arguably the Wunderkammer of the immersive experience is less than that in the traditional RPG, as the RPG’s flexibility allows any game object to become immediately and seamlessly contextualized within the world at any time. This may not be so easy in the world of the immersive experience, whose suspension of disbelief is dependent chiefly on sense.

Williams, J. Patrick. Gaming as Culture: Essays on Reality, Identity, and Experience in Fantasy Games. McFarland & Co., 2006.

  • This work is less concerned with the process of immersing within games than it is in exploring the cultures that games generate. It does however touch on roleplaying as pedagogy, so I will be returning to this book when I look at Immersion as pedagogy.
  • ludology, the study of play
  • a ludologist is somebody who wants to have a better understanding of games
  • RPG historical basis is in war gaming
  • Researched as a pedagogical tool
    • games, sims, RP in the classroom
  • Fantasy gaming involves the creation of and interaction with/in social realities
    • the fantasy reality + the real world
  • virtual identities emerge within the social reality of the game – the border between these identities is fuzzy

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