Relating to Immersion
Immersion Accords despite being serious sounding can be applied to all human endeavors, even those taken up for recreation. It is their inherent flexibility that forces them to be composite in nature so that it can relate across the spectrum of experience. This is why I believe that for the Game Industry to appropriate these terms is a disservice and sows confusion about what it is that makes Games special.
At present, I have discerned five Immersion Accords:
- Volition – Different than Agency or Will, Volition assumes we choose our reality. As it relates to Playstates, we voluntarily agree to step into the Magic Circle of a play experience. From a Playstates perspective, the user approaches the experience as with an attitude of Playfulness and participates for the purpose of Play. A player arrives to the Golf Course with the intention to play Golf.
- Rules – This is about the limits to agency and the decision to follow or not follow the rules. As it relates to Playstates, it would be the rules found inside the Magic Circle. I would speculate it is what Marshall McLuhan referred to as the Medium. Also called the User Interface (UI). Golf is about getting a ball in a hole, the the rules strictly prohibit throwing or carrying the ball.
- Interactivity – The seven senses that are used when interfacing with the Medium. The ability to understand and possibly master the User Interface. Golf is a practicable skill set and players will use and master their senses as they learn from and master play.
- Mechanics – This is the overt, functional behavior that contains its own cycle, which some will refer to as a game feedback loop. I would speculate it is what Marshall McLuhan referred to as the Message. Also called the User Experience (UX). The golfer misses the putt and experiences frustration or elation if there is success in sinking the ball in the hole.
- Meaning – The story, narrative, and setting found within the Playstate. I prefer the word Meaning vs narrative to avoid conflict with those that insist that everything needs to have a story. While everything must have meaning in the human mind, not everything is a story. Meaning is broader, more archetypal, and less defined. The golfer’s successful putt wins the tournament, bringing new fame and fortune.
I am not convinced that these five is the final tally so will need to say that this concept is in a state of ‘draft’. The intention behind this listing is to illustrate that that no single concept is considered to be more important than another. They are all aspects or manifestations of a theoretical concept called Immersion Accords. We may relate to and emphasize these Accords based on what we find attractive and relevant but they all are at work, all of the time.
Not only do Immersion Accords create a relationship with the person, they also have an ecological relationship with each other. One of the other qualities about them is that they build on each other. Two will combine together to form the next concept, thereby creating a circuitous thread that links the Accords into a dynamic loop that occurs throughout human culture.
- Volition + Rules = Interactivity
- Rules + Interactivity = Mechanics
- Interactivity + Mechanics = Meaning
- Mechanics + Meaning = Volition
- Meaning + Volition = Rules
This dynamic forms a virtuous circle where an Accord when combined with another Accord to make a third. The intention of this theory is to not fall prey to seeing a particular Accord as being superior to another (i.e. no ludology vs narrative debates).
Intention is Almost Everything
A third quality that is inherent in Immersion Accords is that they need to combined by an intention. So when combined with Playfulness, we will see the Immersion Accords help create the system of Playstates. The Lens of Intention is essentially one’s attitude and agenda.
What makes something recreational is its possessing a mental attitude of Playfulness, where the effort made is done for fun or if serious as an outlet for creative expression. Playfulness can be done in all activities (even in the ever-serious wage-labor marketplace) when the circumstances grant it.
Immersion Accords + Lens of Intention: Playfulness = Playstates
So how does this allow for the different Playstates to emerge? This would be an interesting topic that is beyond the scope of this blog post, but I think that the Immersion Accords would see Meaning or Volition being the driving forces to the creation of Puzzles, Games, Toys/Playgrounds, Sports, and Role-Plays. It is something I intend to explore further.
Can the Immersion Accords apply to the Arts? Absolutely! I have not thought too deeply about what inputted intention gets combined with Immersion Accords but will list below some speculative lenses:
Immersion Accords + Lens of Intention: Criticism = Art?
Immersion Accords + Lens of Intention: Testable Knowledge = Sciences?
Immersion Accords + Lens of Intention: Human Problems = Philosophy?
Immersion Accords + Lens of Intention: Metaphysics = Religion?
Immersion Accords is my playful but sincere attempt to conceptualize human endeavors. The initial intention was to relate the concepts of Rules, Interactivity, etc. to Games and Playstates, but as I contemplated it further, these concepts were found to be applied everywhere, bringing into existence the concept of Immersion Accords. I was forced to change my understanding and thus this article’s original draft. It was quite a delight to discover!
Stay tuned for further writing and thoughts and many thanks for your attention and interest.