Fundamentals of Immersion

Jun 04

Calleja, Gordon. In-Game: from Immersion to Incorporation. MIT Press, 2011.

  • Shortening the subjective distance between player and game environment, often yielding to the sensation of inhabiting the space represented on-screen (2)
    • presence and immersion
  • incorporation is the book’s answer to the “quandary”
  • macro-involvement is any engagement with the game outside of play
  • micro-involvement is moment-to-moment play

Chapter 1: Games Beyond Games

  • Lays out the terms and definitions of digital and non-digital games. Highly useful to me, as immersion-first experiences occupy a game-like space. Similar to Calleja’s ‘virtual game environment’, the term he lands on to encompass all games that might include sandbox spaces for sub-coded games, immersion has space for environments that engender player-driven play beyond what is necessarily intended by design.
  • Games reflect the culture and society that made them – to explore games is a recursive process
  • a board game is both a process – a set of rules – and an object – the board + pieces
  • a game is a process – processual – in that it has the potential for variation in every interaction (10)
  • example: players playing CoD, one to win, one trying to get kills in certain ways
  • virtual environments can contain games – games like Half Life 2 or GTAIV are examples

Chapter 2: Immersion

  • Immersion is tied closely to presence theory. Presence generally refers to projection of psychological habitation, and not the lived praesence of Machon and the theatre. For Calleja’s forebears immersion is the objective work of the computer/technology/environment (environment added by me – Calleja is concerned with digital games, but I believe the same taxonomy can be applied to immersive environments) while presence is the psychological experience of the player.
  • Telepresence: Marvin Minsky. Operating machinery remotely can give the sense of inhabiting the distance space
  • high fidelity does not equal presence
  • Immersion: (Slater and Wilbur) “a description of a technology that describes the extent to which the computer displays are capable of delivering an inclusive, extensive, surrounding and vivid illusion of reality to the senses of a human participant”
  • Presence: “A state of consciousness, the psychological sense of being in the virtual environment”
  • Immersion being what the technology delivers, and presence being the human reaction to immersion
  • Witmer & Singer: Immersion “a psychological state characterized by perceiving oneself to be enveloped by, included in, and interacting with an environment that provides a continuous stream of stimuli and experiences”
  • Lombard & Ditton identified six characterizations of presence in the literature. (23)
    • Their findings seem to align with Machon – immersion as absorption – perceptual and psychological immersion. Does Machon cite them?
  • For Calleja, Immersion as Absorption is the dictionary definition: “absorption in some condition, action, interest, etc” such a crossword puzzle or a game of Tetris.
  • Immersion as Transportation also occurs: the idea of being present in another place (such as playing Half Life 2)
    • These are the same terms used by Machon: Absorption vs Transportation. This clarifies the distinction.
  • Four Challenges of engaging with Immersion (page 32)

Chapter 3: The Player Involvement Model

  • Explores involvement, which is necessary for immersion. Introduces the concept of macro and micro involvement. ARGs & similar immersive experiences have the potential to explicitly gamify the macro-involvement segment: you are actively participating at a micro level even as you engage passively at the macro level.
  • involvement is prerequisite to presence or immersion
  • this chapter establishes a model of involvement before “going on to attempt a formulation of what is essentially a preconscious experiential phenomenon that combines multiple dimensions of involvement
  • micro-and-macro-involvement (37)
  • playerinvolvement
    • outer edge represents full attentional resources directed to that dimension. A move toward the center requires less attentional resources directed to that dimension. The further center the more dimensions may be simultaneously attended to.
  • types of involvement: (43)
    • kinesthetic
    • spatial
    • shared
    • narrative
    • affective
    • ludic
  • This reminds me of Octalysis, a taxonomy for examining player motivation
  • Attention (40)
    • investment of attention is required to interpret representational media
    • coordination of disparate activities requires attention
    • a prerequisite for involvement
  • Ergodic: a new result based on input. Films are non-ergodic as they will be the same regardless of how they are approached
    • ergocidity is included in active planning or patience during game time inactivity (for example, planning a move in a strategy game)
    • thus game involvement is indicated by player’s cognitive effort, which is not necessarily registered as game input
    • In immersion, is this cognitive effort constant?
  • The next few chapters analyze each form of involvement and characterise their macro and micro-phases. In the interest of time I’m going to skim them and skip to the final chapter. I’ll return to the mid-point when I need a closer examination. Especially spatial, narrative, effective, and shared, for the type of immersive communitas-work I’m envisioning.

Chapter 10: From Immersion to Incorporation

  • The incorporation theory seems geared toward the digital. It is an attempt to reconcile – and, I think, do away with – the term immersion with what is happening psychologically while playing and orienting oneself in a digital game. Incorporation seems to preclude any digital game that does not involve an avatar in a rendered world space. While much of Callejo’s analysis will be useful to me in exploring mixed reality immersion I suspect that the incorporation portion will not.
  • Lakoff and Johnson (2003) describe transference between experiential gestalts as the core of experientialist ontology
    • Perhaps then the key to unique immersive experiences is to generate experiences that defy familiar categories of experience
  • Incorporation (169)
    • metaphor to account for the sense of virtual environment habitation on two simultaneous levels
    • eg the virtual environment is incorporated in the users mind as being part of her immediate surroundings, and she herself is physically incorporated as being located at a point in the virtual environment
    • the environment is incorporated into consciousness simultaneously with the player being incorporated into the environment through the avatar
    • the game world is present to the player while the player is present to the game world
  • Incorporation is the term for immersion as transportation but includes that the player is not merely transported but also incorporates that world into their consciousness

Milgram, Paul, and Fumio Kishino. “A Taxonomy of Mixed Reality Visual Displays.” IEICE TRANS. INF. & SYST, E77-D, no. 12, 12 Dec. 1994, pp. 1321–1329.,

  • Milgram and Kishino attempt to codify mixed reality beyond the orthogonal reality/virtual dichotomy.
  • milgrams
  • Conventionally held view of VR is one in which the participant is immersed in & able to interact with a synthetic world.
  • A series of classes for Mixed Reality Interfaces
  • immersive = egocentric
  • Sheridan proposed a measure of presence
    • there’s that word again!
    • based on the extent of sensory information, control of relation of sensors, and ability to modify the physical environment
  • Zeltzer’s AIP Cube
  • The AIP Cube (from [Zelt92]) | Download Scientific Diagram
    • The AIP cube format can perhaps be tweaked to accommodate Milgram’s taxonomy as well as Machon’s Absorption vs Transportation, while also accommodating communitas & praesence
  • “Real objects are any objects that have an actual objective existence. Virtual objects are objects that exist in essence or effect, but not formally or actually.”
  • A real object must have luminosity at the site where it is located; a virtual object has no luminosity (includes holograms and mirror images)
  • In creating a taxonomy for merging real and virtual worlds they ask “What is the extent of the illusion that the observer is present within that world?”
  • worldknowledge
  • no info/ where or what in the world  / where and what in the world / complete world
  • theothers

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