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Immersion and Persistence
by Glenn Storm on 01/15/10 09:15:00 am

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The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


Previous Post: Competency, Autonomy and Relatedness

In the previous post, the Cognitive Psychology concepts of basic needs from Self-Determination Theory were asserted to be consistent with the dynamics of the sytem of Experience. In this post, the Lens of the System of Experience is turned toward two related experiential conditions that are common goals of Game Design. Everyone should feel encouraged to join the discussion and comment on or debate the assertions presented. All relevant comments are welcome and appreciated.

Immersion and Persistence

As asserted previously, there is no difference between the way the system of Experience operates in the real world and the way it operates within The Magic Circle. Our ability to focus Attention on discrete subsets of the Cognitive Model of the world is a strategy of Efficiency; where we can direct Attention to what is of current concern, while simultaneously abandoning Attention from other areas of Experience.

In the extreme, when Motivation has forsaken the concerns of the real world, including its Perception, Memory and Prediction, in favor of concerns of The Magic Circle, we call this state Immersion. However, Immersion is not exclusive to The Magic Circle. One can be fully engaged in any real life activity, “lose track of time” and find oneself later with no significant Memory of anything during that time outside the activity. Immersion is a state that can be brought about accidentally by daydreaming; where the current task promises no Efficiency gain and Motivation automatically seeks a task that does, or it can be deliberately induced, as in during meditation or when we decide to step inside The Magic Circle to play a game.

When Immersion offers a significant Variation to paths toward Understanding the concerns of The Magic Circle, and if the potential Efficiency tradeoffs are perceived as valuable, Motivation may continue to direct Attention to those concerns even when we do not consider ourselves within The Magic Circle; after we’ve stopped playing the game. When we continue to pay Attention to concerns of The Magic Circle from outside it, due to some ongoing Cognitive Model task that will yield a measure of Understanding, it is called Persistence. And due to the nature of Attention, Motivation will also decrease available Attention effort to concerns of the real world during a state of Persistence of The Magic Circle. Where the real world is concerned, this dynamic is represented as distraction.

Next Post: Beyond the Magic Circle


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