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Old 12-04-2014, 02:03 PM   #41
RogerBW
 
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Default Re: Immersion

Hmm, I think that I at least tend to be annoyed if someone breaks the mood; we'll chat more generally before and after the game, and when breaking for food, but while we're playing breaking what mood has been established with non-game talk is unwelcome. I think there's a feeling that what we've come here for is the game; we can and do socialise at other times. Jokes are fine, for example, but they should tie in to the game in some way rather than being just random comedy. (I know that Kromm for example has a much more easy-going table style than this, so I'm certainly not claiming it's universal.)
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Old 12-04-2014, 02:09 PM   #42
johndallman
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Default Re: Immersion

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
But the other part is the demand not to have stimuli that break the trance of identification with a character: no game mechanics talk, no table chat, no jokes, no interruptions ...
I suspect (nearly) everyone has that idea at some point, but most realise it isn't workable very fast. If someone is insisting on it, I'd wonder if they were prioritising half-formed theory above practical experience, or maybe just playing a character that's too challenging for them.
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Old 12-04-2014, 03:55 PM   #43
arnej
 
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Default Re: Immersion

Looking back on the best examples of achieving character immersion in my experience, the conditions were optimal for it, but less than optimal for "entire gang around the table" style play.

In every case, it was either myself and the GM or myself, the GM, and one other player who was also deeply involved in the scene. There were no bystanders or catcallers to wrench us out of The Immersion Zone.

In most cases, there was very little intrusion of rules or dice. Either an intense PC to PC scene, or a situation where the GM rolled but I didn't.

IIRC, Bill, your best example of immersive play was with the player who, and pardon me for not remembering exactly, played out so well the reactions of a victim of abuse. Were there lots of die rolls? Was there table-talk going on, joking, etc? I think I would have been holding my breath while that played out.

To summarize, character immersion as an experience is hard to pull off in front of a table full of pizza-eating, cajolling, kibitzing players. If you want it, you need to be able to focus in on the insides of the character's head. Things that "break immersion" (table talk, rules, die rolling) make it harder.

But it's really cool when it happens.

arnej
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Old 12-04-2014, 07:42 PM   #44
whswhs
 
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Default Re: Immersion

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IIRC, Bill, your best example of immersive play was with the player who, and pardon me for not remembering exactly, played out so well the reactions of a victim of abuse. Were there lots of die rolls? Was there table-talk going on, joking, etc? I think I would have been holding my breath while that played out.
There were some dice rolls, and at the start the player of the male character involved looked at his series of rolls and said, "No, it's on my character sheet, I have to play it." But the story as it unfolded just dragged everyone in, without any special effort made to achieve "immersion."

However, I later asked the player about how she had felt during the scene, and she said that she had felt three different emotions simultaneously: empathic pain for what her character was going through, frustration at her character's stupidity for having gotten herself into that mess, and gloating over how intensely the rest of us were reacting to her imagined actions. That's a pretty complex mental state, not much like the pure method acting trance I've seen described as "immersion" by the people from whom I first learned the term.

Bill Stoddard
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Old 12-05-2014, 08:04 AM   #45
johndallman
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Default Re: Immersion

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The idea of "breaking immersion" is the point where the whole thing becomes foreign to me. I play with people who get seriously involved with their characters, and I've had a number of emotionally intense scenes and sessions over the years—for example, the DC Realtime session at whose end the PCs' actions led to Delirium turning back into Delight, which left a roomfull of players in total silence for a full minute. But we talk about rules and mechanics and optimal play strategy, we tell jokes and fall into side chat, and we do a lot of other things that I've seen described as "breaking immersion."
Immersion isn't continuous, in my experience. A scene gets set up, and then played through. Most games don't have a formal structure for this, but it happens anyway. The scene-setting tends to be more metagame chat and jokes, then you go into the scene, where disruption of the flow/breaking out of the zone/loosing immersion (all really the same thing) matters more.

If someone's trying to maintain immersion in their character continuously ... either they're used to playing in very small groups, maybe 1:1, where that's much easier, or they're trying too hard, or they've lost track of the idea that it's a co-operative kind of a game and are trying to maximise their return at the expense of others.

Combat, interestingly, tends not to have the same degree of immersion. While it's usually very intense for the characters, it's something most players can't imagine in the same degree of detail as character interaction, and there's a constant shift of focus as characters and opponents rake their turns. I try to pay attention to all of the combat that my character(s) are in a position to observe, because this helps me keep track of what's going on, but many players don't bother, and just worry about what they're involved with.
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Old 12-05-2014, 07:04 PM   #46
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If someone's trying to maintain immersion in their character continuously ...
... they'll run into the same problem books and movies do when they too assiduously try to adhere to "show, don't tell". It takes a lot more time / words to convey everything through action, especially first-person action, and you're also stuck running in real time. Does anyone really want to maintain this kind of immersion for the three-month trip to the next town? Or will they hit the fast-forward button?
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