Immersionism, part II

So, back in this post I mentioned I had some new thoughts about immersionism. I haven't been able to catch up on that. But here's a little more, broken into points:

1. People who advocate immersionism often balk at the thought of meta-mechanics. They don't want to think "outside their character". That's fairly easy.

2. The focus of immersionism has always focused on the player. How does the player "immerse". My counterpoint: It doesn't work that way.

3. Immersionism comes about when the player is passive, not active. He does not immerse, he is immersed, or better: abducted into the fiction.

4. To create the proper soil from which immersion can grow "real life" elements should be exorcised, mechanics shouldn't handle more than the most tangible of character actions that cannot be "acted out". Clear and simple. This is not enough however.

5. Abduction happens as a GM technique. Here's a quote from a metatext about Longinus's conception of the sublime:
Through his effective and inspired choice of tropes, Demosthenes “grips his audience and carries it along with him.” Similarly, the notion of sudden, ecstatic transport “often makes the reader feel himself in the midst of the dangers described.” As he quickly places his reader in the midst of three passages that dramatically exemplify his point, Longinus addresses the reader: “Do you see, my friend, how he [Herodotus] gets a hold on your mind and leads it through these places and makes you see what you only hear? Such passages, by addressing the reader directly, place him in the middle of the action.”

6. Ok, so how does Longinus define the sublime (that which "gets a hold on your mind and leads it through these places and makes you see what you only hear"):
a. great conceptions
b. strong emotions
c. certain figures of thought and speech
d. noble diction
e. dignified word arrangement

Note that he does not endorse flowery or bloated prose or poetry. Noble diction can be simple and he even stresses the importance of silence. "An elevated style" counts as one where the functions of language are in harmony. Sadly, not the whole of his text is preserved, and it would take too much space to go into it at length here but I hope you can see what I'm aiming at...

A simple, flowing, non-intrusive mechanic is a prerequisite for immersion, but not its source. Neither is the player. Immersion is something the GM does to you.


  1. Hey! That point 3 is really a very good observation. Thanks!


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