[MUD-Dev] Re: roleplaying and immersion (was: PermaDeath)

Ola Fosheim Grøstad <olag@ifi.uio.no> Ola Fosheim Grøstad <olag@ifi.uio.no>
Sun Feb 21 13:24:07 New Zealand Daylight Time 1999

Sayeed wrote:
> Misinterpretation because of my mistake.  I should have said that this
> is IMMERSION, not solely a role-player's immersion.  I'd say there's
> a difference between affecting our real lives and affecting our mud
> lives.  Complete immersion is impossible right now,(I'm waiting for
> retinal laser painting + Turing level AI) , and so when someone insults
> us in-character, it is hard for us to be truly insulted.  We still
> consider it only a game and if it's a fantasy game, we may not truly
> understand or feel the effect of his words.

Hmm... Who are "we" and what is meant by "game"? :-)  "Reality" is a
difficult term to reason about. In the role-playing paradigm one want to
keep the world disconnected from the physical world in order to ensure
that the "rules" are not messed up with rules and assumptions from other
systems (like the physical world), thus one try to preserve the
"role-playing freedom". This is idealistic of course, most (all?) players
will have trouble fully separating their character from themselves. For
instance: if you try to roleplay a funny character, and everybody treats
you like a boring person...

> If someone said "Thou dankish beef-witted haggard." (extreme) to you,
> would you really identify?

Yes, if I am truly role-playing I would. Hopefully I would be able to
shake it of when I go back to the physical world. For me, role-acting
(role-playing) is to _emotionally_ adopt a new personality (difficult,
but interesting).  Role-acting is not to ask yourself "what is
in-character?", because then you are not really immersed. You are then
simply sitting outside the screen poking into it, intellectually
manipulating a doll. You should instinctively feel what is right.
Obviously, this does not come for free, but takes some effort and
"skill", or at least a lot of time?

> However, if someone said 'F--- You' in a
> cyberpunk mud, you would probably be irritated when not immersed, and
> so when immersed you would also find it hard to shake off.

Actually, I am more irritated by people attacking me and then asking me
about how many points they got me down etc. (Ref your own "beyond player
killing" article, read it yesterday. :). I'm not offended by "fuck you"
OOC, although IC I probably would be as I look for conflict when
role-playing. Then again, I am not easily offended in English so this
perhaps beside the point.

> Risk makes 'immersion.'  My definition of a 'real world' for someone
> is a world where he/she is immersed.
> Example:  From the hundreds women I've made love to, the time I was
> most 'immersed' (not necessarily in a good way & no pun intended) was
> when I couldn't resist that HIV+ girl.  An exciting, dangerous, immersive
> experience which I can remember.  The risk helped in making it, amid
> many similar experiences, more 'immersive,' but perhaps 'real' is too
> vague a term. 

If this is true, then it would only apply to thrill seekers, I think? I
would personally be distracted by the fear for getting a deadly
disease... But my example wasn't a good one, as there is some major
difference between making love (to someone you admire) and being horny
and having sex...

> (This example is theoretical by the way)

Hope so!!! 

> I missed your focus here, though I agree there are a lot of things you
> should try to 'mentally remove' to be immersed.  Do you mean managing
> risk detracts from what should purely be a focus on engagement?

I think it really depends on the person and situation, but I think that
MUDs have a problem by heavily enforcing a particular focus instead of
providing a structure or domain in which the user finds his own focus.
Difficult balance. If it is to heavily biased towards one "tool", such as
risk, then it becomes too much of a linear game and not really a world.
If the user doesn't find anything to focus on then he won't be able to
immerse himself into the environment.

As you suggested with your reference to VR, there are at least two
aspects of immersion. One is perception, which is researched by the VR
community, usually called "presence". Which btw is the name of the VR
journal (I think you can find it at MIT press, with some free articles).
Then you have the psychologists who research experience. It is my opinion
that the latter is the more powerful aspect of immersion.  A good sign of
being immersed into an activity is that you cannot account for the time
spent on the activity. The activity should be complex enough  to "fill
your brain", thus preventing you from being distracted by the physical
world, daydreaming, worries etc.  The activity does not necessarily have
to be difficult, it could be emotionally or perceptionally stimulating.

Ola Fosheim Groestad,Norway      http://www.stud.ifi.uio.no/~olag/

MUD-Dev maillist  -  MUD-Dev at kanga.nu

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