chapter  22
16 Pages

Immersion and Shared Imagination in Role-Playing Games

WithSarah Lynne Bowman

This chapter presents the different ways that players, theorists, and researchers discuss immersion in role-playing games, establishing six major categories: activity, game, environment, narrative, character, and community. These categories are similar to the types established by Gordon Calleja in his work on video game immersion with some minor distinctions. Some forms of immersion focus upon the repetitive execution of a particular task or activity, involving a certain degree of agency or kinesthetic involvement, as Gordon Calleja terms it. Some theorists connect the immersionism ideal with the phenomenon of bleed, in which the feelings, thoughts, relationships, and physical states of the player affect the character and vice versa. For many players and theorists alike, the experience of role-playing immersion cannot be divorced from the social contexts – both in-game and out-of-game – within which they transpire. This concept correlates with Calleja's shared involvement, which includes competition, cooperation, and cohabitation with both human and nonhuman actors within virtual games.