Getting in the Cockpit

So, the second axis I wanted to have a look at is the place that you position yourself to drive your actions in the game. I’m going to talk about this a lot more in future posts, especially about the wording I’ve chosen to describe it: I and Other. For the sake of understanding this introductory post, remember that I am currently working on trying to map the body of play that I once (unsuccessfully) tried to shoehorn into the word immersion; Other could at some point have further application, and will definitely have a more detailed meaning than this, but for the sake of this one post, think of Other as your object in the fiction: your PC, a communal character that you inhabit in the moment, an NPC with which you drive the game as a GM. The I, of course is you as you (though even that will become a little more complicated later on).

You all (except maybe my Great Aunt Gertrude) will be utterly unsurprised to hear me say at this point that the first indicator of where you sit to drive your play is your socket. A person with a primary character socket and no secondary socket is likely going to sit right up at the top of this scale, especially if their goal is Kenotic, and their payoff has an escapist bent.

Likewise, a person who has, say, a primary system socket, a secondary social socket, and a tertiary story socket might never actually make their contributions to the game through a game object, but will instead, contribute directly to the game. I’ve heard some actual play recordings where the players involved never actually inhabited a character object all. Characters, PC or NPCs were never referred to in the first person, and never had an actual voice in play. Even if the character spoke and was not just paraphrased, the player narrated the speech as if it were dialogue in a novel, rather than a character to inhabit.

On the runway from the I to the Other, there are lots of ways to funnel participation through the character as a game object. I’m going to run some of them down for you using the best analogies I have at my disposal. I am peripherally aware that they are similar to some terms already in use in immersion theory. I want to be clear that I’m not at all trying to adopt those terms and their associated meanings (or baggage). Remember that I don’t read rpg.net or the Forge and I’m not a big forum girl. As such, please do your best when you read on to disassociate what you have been taught I might mean and to concentrate on reading them as simple analogies:

As a marionette, where the player does not inhabit the object, but dances it through the fiction with a directed will, there is a distinct emotional and sensory distance between the player and the character. The two share nothing; the marionette is nothing more than a tool with good aesthetic value.

As a puppet, the player inhabits the object only partially, all decisions are unmitigated by the puppet and are made for the direct, unencumbered benefit of the player or the story or something external to the character object (even if that benefit is the player’s sense of the character’s continuity in the story). The player has some amount of emotional investment in the character object and may have a very detailed blueprint of the puppet but is not influenced by the character object directly. Influence on the game is equally (qualitatively and quantitatively) made via the character object and directly without it.

As a mask, the player maintains a distinct identity within the character object, but has established an emotional, often empathic connection with the object and uses it as the primary vehicle to influence the game. The player is influenced and informed by the character object, and the character object is willfully given a measure of transformative power over the player as a goal of play. The player can take intentional action in the game that is uninfluenced by the character object, but optimally will do so only through the funnel of the character.

As a possessing force, the player abandons a personal identity and surrenders to the character object as a goal of play in order to directly, experience the full subjective reality of the character. The more intensely this is done, the less able the player is take any self-directed action as it does not originate from the (the player’s matrix) of the character’s subjective reality. This is all the way up the Other scale.

I / Other Scale

Once again, the purple dot is me (my trended behaviour, mind not an absolute that doesn’t exist). The empathic connection to character object is critical to my goal and my payoff, because it is in the ability to feel the emotionality of my character object’s response to the story that my impassioned engagement is fueled and the cathartic response is won. However, it is just as important to me to not then extend to allow the character to be a possessing force because to create really effective cathartic situations and get my Epicaric Virago on, I must have the freedom to manipulate the character and drive her towards badness and strife.Brand is the red dot again. He doesn’t need to be up close and personal with any particular character object in order to get his groove on. In fact, having to live within the confines of a character can sometimes hold him back from getting at his payoff. The character is a very rich source of story bits and momentum tools that make the story hot, but they are not usually gratifying to him in and of themselves.Also it’s worth noting that as a GM, Brand interacts with the Other as if it were a marionette, while as a player, he leans closer to being a puppeteer. I have a similar shift, though not as pronounced: As a player I solidly mask the Other, while as a GM I interact with the Other as both mask and puppet.

So, you can affect the game directly as your self, or you can affect the game funneled through an interaction with a character object. These modes of play are determined by the kind of payoff you are looking for, the kind of goal you set to achieve it and most importantly, by the socket that you use to engage with the game. Now that only two of you (of the original three) are still reading, I’d also like leave you hanging by noting, that while I’ve talked about the Other as character object, I do think it might be possible that other kinds of sockets can also become the Other. Setting is a particularly intriguing one when you think about how no-mythers might marionette the setting while deep setting socket folks (Elliot, I’m looking at you here) may well be considered to be possessed by the setting. If you have ideas on this, post them. Somewhere down the line I’ll likely be coming back to this.

23 thoughts on “Getting in the Cockpit”

  1. I don’t know if this is coming or what, but there’s some interesting dynamics that happen when players interact in play, since a single player often doesn’t have complete control of their own PC.

    The classic example, of course, is mind control, but there are also things like, say, social combat in Exalted or the battle of wits in Burning Wheel. Or even just resolution mechanics that require stakes setting. Or the GM just saying, “Looking out over the ocean, a deep melancholy washes over you.”

    I would predict that players often manipulate NPCs and other players’ PCs from a different place on this scale than the one they normally prefer for their own PC.

  2. Jonathan,

    Oh hells yes. Which is one of the places where play preferences can either break a game or need to be changed in order to enjoy a certain game. Because if you have, for example, a strong possesor mode as your default style of play then anything that takes control of your character away from you, even something as basic as being possessed by a demon NPC, can fuck up your ability to get at your payoff.

    Which, I think, is what a lot of folks who identify under the symbol of the artist formerly known as immersion are complaining about when they look at games with shared authority over PCs and the like. Because if you’re trying to climb up to the top of the scale here and are in a game that is desinged with the assumption that it should be played down near the bottom (or with a group that assumes that) then you’re going to get static. At that point you either need to change your mode or you need to change games.

    Ironically, I’ve found that a lot of Maskers have no trouble with things like the Duel of Wits in Burning Wheel, or “social combat” in Dogs. If they can see/feel the path that has gone on to change their character “organcially” they often have no problem internalizing that. It’s mostly when there is direct external control or control with no organic buildup, that they hit a problem point.

  3. Mo,

    I think it’s actually pretty hilarious that you anticipated me in your final paragraph. Cause I was totally going to ask about that. I find it problematic.

    So, I see how the scale works for characters. I take it that people are constructing intuitive mental black boxes that function in ways highly similar to our normal mental processes (we don’t have to, for instance, analyze whether we like something we’re eating, we can know first and analyze later if we want).

    And I see how it works for characters because it’s some sort of variation of psychological/sociological identity construction. We build a new or different ‘me’ modeled in part on the current ‘me’.

    However, I’m not seeing how this works for things other than characters. We don’t have a ‘possessed level’ model with settings or systems, do we?

    Hmm… Thinking about it, we do have black boxes similar to reactionary judgments though. I can roughly guage how far I can jump, I can solve certain math problems intuitively rather than having to analyze through them step by step…

    Did I just answer my own question here? Is that what you see ‘possessed’ play looking like? The use of intuitive models?

    Thomas

  4. Thomas,

    I think some people get to an equivelent state to masking for setting. Some of the things I’ve heard from setting socket folks talk about the way the setting works for them in a way very much like how masking works for a character socket folk. I don’t think youd’ get possesed by a setting, but you might get a “real” sense of actually being there. I’ve heard Tekumel junkies, for example, call it “smelling the cinamon.”

    However, they wouldn’t be exactly the same because this axis isn’t supposed to be universal to all RP. Remember the part of the post where Mo said “remember that I am currently working on trying to map the body of play that I once (unsuccessfully) tried to shoehorn into the word immersion?” Yea.

    For other types of sockets you could probably build a similar scale, but this one is specifically keyed to character, with potential for setting. System, I’d think would have a similar but different “engage only to facilitate story” going up through the ranks to “exploration of system is the main goal of play” bridge. Because you can’t tell me you’ve never known people whose primary excitement and investment into the game is through the system. Think about hard-core Hero players and point balancing their characters….

  5. Interestingly there was quite a lot of talk about “immersive gming” on rgfa back in the day. The discussions strongly suggest that there is an “Other/Setting” socket that people have plugged into.

    I used to GM that way myself, I think, pretty consciously so in the Amberway II pbem I ran. I think it has real risks if you’re playing with people way up at the Other/Character scale, IOW what we classically think of as immersive players. I’d go so far as to say I think it’s why Amberway II blew up – since I was immersed in the world I was a poor custodian of the players who were immersed in their characters, one in particular. The “Masks and Trance” chapter of Johnstone’s IMPRO really brought this home to me. His insistence that mask and trance play are inherently safe rests substantially on the presence of a guide who is above the fray, and able to “call back” the trance subject or recall the masked actor to herself, whether the priest at the voudun ritual or the director in the theater class.

    Of course, I probably shouldn’t overconclude from personal experience of one failed game. The rgfa threads suggest that immersive gming produced functional gaming for others.

  6. Interesting. I put a link in the phrase “immersive gming,” and it’s a working link, but any visual cue that it’s a working link is very very faint. So, anyway, there’s a link there.

  7. Jim,

    You know, that gives me a sudden and startling insight into why so many heavy um… character socket possesion players with a heavy emotional agenda players are so insistant upon the traditional roll of centralized GM authority. It has nothing to do with the narration rights, authoring, or GM fiat issues that are the traditional criticisms of Forge theory and much to do with the need for that call back guide.

    Fascinating.

    Okay, as for the Other/Setting thing… do people do this by becoming the setting, becoming part of the setting, or becoming a character in the setting? Because it has occured to me in the past (as in the discussion at Fair Games in which we talked about PC as avatar) that there are a lot of folks who get miscategorized as having a character socket because it seems like their character is so important to them, when in fact their character is only important because it allows them to plug into the setting. The character is just the gateway that gets them to their real socket: which is living in the setting.

    Does that match up with anything you’re seeing?

  8. Jim,

    It’s just that you have been to that page recently. Links that are in your browser’s history (“visited” links) fade into the background on this blog. For the rest of us, it showed up bright and orange.

  9. Brand,

    I think I’m with you. But now I’m wondering if all these different scales have something in common… Are they all constructed with something like ‘intuition’ at one end and ‘analysis’ at the other? Because that’s the sense I get from reading Mo’s description.

    Thomas

  10. Thomas,

    Well for character, possibly story and setting, there is often an element of “I and Other.” How deep do you go into a setting? Is it just pretty bits to use to tell an essentially unmodified story about your own issues (equivelent of marrionette, very I based), do you like to let it modify the story but keep a firm gasp on your own issues and statements (mid level I based), to let the setting sweep away and heavily modify anything you would have said in another setting (mid level other based), or to have the setting dominate everything you do in the game (high level other based)?

    For all of those sockets you can really see a level of how much you influence the game directly as your sole self, and how much you influence the game (or are influence by the game, I suppose) through the agency of an “other” of various types.

    I’m honestly not sure what there would be for other sockets. If you could “immerse” (to use the bad word) into rules, I suppose the rules could be the other — but I’ve never known anyone who got possesor level deep into rules. I suppose it could happen though. Perhaps a functional mode of “My Guyism” in a game like Pendragon could approach this — playing the Trait rules as other that dictates your interaction with play?

    Or, at that point, I suppose for system based folks the question could be “how much do you want system to serve your goals in the game” (I based) and “how much do the rules themselves serve as the reason you play” (other based).

  11. Jim: Thansk for the link, dude. I missed out on the rpfg stuff that happened back in the day. Interesting now to read it and see how some of it and what I’ve been mulling on have echos inside each other, but how they’re still quite differnt takes.

    All (esp. Thomas): To underline an idea in Brand’s last comment in my own words. I / Other is about how you apply your investment in the game (directly or funnelled through an agency) and to what extent you do or do not surrender your power to that agency.

    I think that there’s lots of room for some (maybe not all) other sockets to become the other, I’m just not sure how because I’ve had less opportunity to study them.

  12. Mo, no prob. There’s a wealth of goodness in the rgfa theory discussions, along with too much of me sounding like an asshat. Particularly when it comes to both immersion and “story-averse” play, two distinct concepts that sometimes got conflated, those old threads are an important starting point.

    Linnaeus: Thanks! I get it now.

    Brand: On the first issue, GM as trance-state callback guide, I don’t feel qualified to generalize. It’s a tentative conclusion on my part. The best people to talk to about it from experience are unfortunately folks who got alienated by the early phases of “diaspora immersion discussion.”

    On the socket aspects of “immersive GMing,” my limited experience and my memory of reading what people who really did it wrote is that it includes but is not limited to socketing to NPCs. It might be characterized as a mask/possession relationship to the subcreation as a whole, as well as to constituent parts including but not limited to characters. In Tweet terms, think of it as “intuitive karma” rather than “GM fiat.”

    Thomas: Wow. “I take it that people are constructing intuitive mental black boxes that function in ways highly similar to our normal mental processes” That seems like as good a way to characterize immersion-as-practice as any I’ve seen.

  13. Man, this feels weird…

    I feel sort of like I’m asking the same question over and over and either not getting or simply missing the answers… I’ll try this one more time to see if I can clarify precisely what I’m asking.

    The ‘other’ that Mo talks about isn’t some separate entity from the player. The ‘other’ is, in fact, some sort of mental model that exists within the mind of the player. Which isn’t to denigrate it or make it less. I think that there are valid understandings of personal identity that look very similar to this ‘other’ idea.

    Anyway, the ‘other’ is just the title we give to a mental black box of some sort. Input (in the form of a question ‘what does the other do now?’) goes in, and then it spits out an output (in the form of ‘this is what the other does’).

    I think that this is black box stuff works in ways that are fundamentally similar to how we normally make decisions. We can eat a new dish and know that we like it/don’t like it without any analysis. There’s some behind-the-scenes stuff going on within our own minds.

    So, that suggests to me that the ‘other’ is just a way of saying that we’re making decisions utilizing intuitive models. Am I right in thinking this? Is the ‘other’ just a sort of anthropomorphization?

    I ask because here’s what things look like to me if it is.

    Character stuff, like from Mo’s scale, is about constructing intuitive models that are basically similar to the models we use for making personal decisions. This is pretty familiar to most people, and thus (I think) more common and ‘natural’.

    Setting stuff is also pretty familiar. We all have these intuitive models of how the world works. Politics, social stuff, even physics (can I jump this gap? can I cross the street before that car gets here?)… We have these intuitive mental models that we refer to. Again, these are familiar and thus ‘natural’.

    So, assuming that I’m right that the ‘other’ is really just an anthropomorphization of ‘intuitive models’ then what do they look like for people with system sockets or story sockets? I’ve got some ideas, but I’m not sure…

    To restate my question which may have gotten lost: is the ‘other’ really just another word for intuitive models?

    Oh, Jim, I’m glad that you found it useful. This stuff up above is an expansion of what I was talking about. Does the expansion still match up, or did something get lost in there?

    Thomas

  14. Thomas,

    I really like it when you use the word black box, because black box (assuming that you’re using it in it’s computer programming sense and not the aerospace sense) implies nothing about the process that’s inside the black box except that it takes an input and provides an output to the game.

    What you’re asking here, is what’s inside the black box, and I’m not sure that there’s one single answer to give you, or if there is, that I know what it is just yet (especially if you’re looking for one to explain othering sockets apart from character). Yes, to some extent inside the box there’s a proprietary mental model that may or may not be intuitive, but I’m not sure what you’re aiming at with the word anthropomorphization. I’ll be going deeper into the Other in a post or two, so the best I can say is stick around for a post or two to see if it gets any clearer.

  15. Hi Thomas: I think I can largely assent to what you’re saying, with one bifurcated cavil.

    You use the word “just” a couple of times in reference to the mental models and black boxes. When I say that risks being deprecatory, I want to be clear that I don’t mean “It hurts my precious feelings.” I mean that it risks understating the centrality of it. After all, humans are a species that will kill and die for mental models.

    This relates to my other concern. There’s a sense in which “constructing a black box” is “saying it in your own words” in re understanding the concept, and that’s cool. But there MAY be a sense in which, by rephrasing the phenomenon in terms of what the player is DOING, that you risk misprision.

    What do I mean? IMHO, two layers of defensiveness bedeviled the first round of Forgeista attempts to discuss immersion. The first was at the level of game advocacy. A says, “You’ll like this cool game. B says, “This game breaks immersion.” A responds with a hundred varieties of “So? So?? Immersion suxxorz!” Varieties include “Immersion is a delusion”; “Immersion is selfish”; “Immersion is just a technique not an agenda”; “Why, I myself immerse, by which I mean something completely different than you mean and what a well-understood tradition of theorizing anterior to my own contribution means, so therefore the term must be too broad to be useful!” Garden-variety “porcupine advocacy” – when threatened, put up the quills.

    Now, you personally never curled up all tight and pointy like that and, as I construed your blogging, worked pretty actively to get beyond it, so I’m pointing no fingers your way.

    There’s a second level of defensiveness though, at the level of theory itself. Please keep in mind that I broadly accept the Big Model, and have found it personally useful. However, the Big Model is a fundamentally behaviorist theory, shot through with Ron’s behaviorist bias. As such it provides a reasonable vocabulary for talking about activity, but a poor one for talking about feelings. And feeling a certain way, subjectivity itself, is the POINT of roleplaying immersion. (John Searle wrote of behaviorist psychology that it started by saying, let’s concentrate on those aspects of human psychology we can measure and ended by defining everything we couldn’t measure out of existence.)

    You need look no further than the model’s reification of the “shared imagined space” over the individual imagined spaces of the players, and its emphasis on group reinforcement of creative agenda. (Plus Ron’s perpetual and not quite convincing, IMHO, attempts to distinguish “agendas” from desires and insist that the Big Model is not about the latter.) This has nothing to do with any bias toward narrativism. This is just a relative comfort with discussing things around the table and a relative discomfort with things inside the head. It’s good at talking about inputs and outputs but it’s always at risk of deprecating anything that can’t be expressed in terms of inputs and outputs.

    Immersion is a thing inside the head. It’s a subjective state. It’s something that may not come to group attention until after the session is over. The times I’ve had my most powerful immersive experiences gaming were very “quiet.” So I think that, on one level, the terminology you’re groping for here is accurate, but it may be accurate like a butterfly jar.

    Postscript: I realize our hostess has dropped the term “immersion” as such, and I acknowledge that as productive for her. We’re certainly getting some damned fine essays out of her decision. But I’m not following her all the way down that terminological road. Basically, when I say “immersion,” I mean playing way up Mo’s Other Scale.

  16. Mo,

    Yeah, I mean ‘black box’ in the computer programming sense. Input goes in and output magically comes out! How does it work? Who knows, who cares? It works.

    Of course I may be a bit too computer programing-y for my own good. Because you can always analyze a programming black box to see how it’s doing what it’s doing. You don’t have to, and a lot of the time knowing how it works doesn’t change anything, but you can analyze it if you want.

    As for ‘anthropomorphization’, I’ll try to clarify, but my plan is to wait to see what you have to say in later posts…

    What I’m getting at is this (and I come from an acknowledged point of bias: I think all forms of immersion are fundamentally structurally similar)… When talk of ‘immersion’, or of the ‘I’/’Other’ scale you’re using, come up they almost always end up couched in terms focused on human action. The ‘other’ character ‘makes decisions’ and ‘has emotional reactions’ and so on and so forth. Which, honestly, I think is pretty accurate as far as it goes.

    But with all that terminology set in terms of ‘people do these things, not places and not systems and not other stuff’ it becomes sort of fuzzy what immersion (or the other) would be in setting or in system or in color. At this point I’m thinking that the human-centric language is becoming something of a barrier… at least for me. Of course, and again, this is pretty much dependent upon my assumption that all ‘other’ and all immersion is similar on a fundamental level, which may be a terrible lie.

    Jim,

    I’m with you on the caveat. In fact, I struggled with finding a term that indicated centrality they didn’t sound deprecating. ‘Merely’ ‘Only’ ‘Nothing more than’… You can see my problem here, I think. I think it’s a reflection of my specific education that ‘just’ seemed most acceptable there.

    Anyway, yeah, I think we’re on the same page for the most part on that stuff. I did have one thing I was hoping you’d clarify, you said:

    ‘[Immersion is] something that may not come to group attention until after the session is over.’

    I think you’re saying ‘all the other players at the table may not notice that I’m getting my immersion on’, but it is possible to read the sentence as ‘no one at the table, including me, notices that I’m getting my immersion on’. The first I can totally get behind, but the second is more problematic for me. I don’t know that I reject it outright, but I’d take some convincing…

    Thomas

  17. Mo: *w00t!* Thanks!

    Thomas: In those times, yes, I mean I was aware, say, right afterward? It’s a tricky thing, right, to say “I’m aware I’m getting my immersion on,” right? Because you pretty much have to scare-quote the “I” don’t you? (Thought for the day: Some people who talk about how immersion is impossible are talking as if recent psychology, cognitive science and postmodernism generally haven’t thoroughly problematized the concept of the unitary self to begin with.) I suppose it’s more like, very soon after, I was like, “Hey, that’s what immersion is! Was.”

    Recognizing immersion in the act is sort of like realizing you’re dreaming while you dream. Maybe. It can happen, right? But it doesn’t always happen.

    Very stray thoughts that follow:

    * I’m neither the first nor the last person to talk to when it comes to learning about the phenomenon of immersion. I see myself as qualified mainly to say, “Based on my very limited experience with the phenomenon, what these other people are saying about their own experiences makes sense to me.” In all seriousness, immersion talk makes me want to “pull a Forge” and say “Go read a half-dozen of Mary Kuhner and Irina Rempt’s 1990s-era rgfa threads and THEN come talk to me,” in the same way Forge n00bs are referred to the essays and the Famous Five threads as a prereq to joining theoretical discussions there, or Chris Chinn wants you to play a particular set of games before commenting on his blog. An awful lot of work on understanding immersion has been done.

    All of which is me saying I only have so much authority on the topic and not more.

    * I think I do believe that trance states – hypnosis, religious frenzy, rpg immersion – are social phenomena, but since I’m a materialist, I figure that “social phenomena” doesn’t mean “no change in brain states.” So I think your black box model is fine.

    * Still recognizing that I haven’t quite answered your question! Because it’s a tough one!

    My experience is that I have recognized I was immersed before anyone else in the group recognized I was immersed. But what if you had a group that was not immersive that knew an immersive player’s characteristic behaviors well? Might they know before the immersive player herself? (In one of the rgfa threads, Mary Kuhner’s husband recognizes she’s been immersing in one of her characters in the lobby of a movie theater, but it’s not clear from her report that she DIDN’T know she was doing it.) I mean, a hypnotist can recognize you’re in a trance state while you yourself deny it, right?

    I guess, in principle, I see no reason why the group couldn’t know you were immersed before you did. Say: You’re availing yourself of a black box you only use in congenial circumstances. For whatever reason, using this black box precludes any other constituent of your Self contemporaneously remarking that this particular black box is in use. Stupid homonculous! BUT, availing yourself of this black box generates some combination of somatic, verbal and social cues that people who know you recognize as atypical. These people are your fellow gamers and they say, “There goes Thomas, he’s doing it again.”

  18. Mo: *w00t!* Thanks!

    Thomas: In those times, yes, I mean I was aware, say, right afterward? It’s a tricky thing, right, to say “I’m aware I’m getting my immersion on,” right? Because you pretty much have to scare-quote the “I” don’t you? (Thought for the day: Some people who talk about how immersion is impossible are talking as if recent psychology, cognitive science and postmodernism generally haven’t thoroughly problematized the concept of the unitary self to begin with.) I suppose it’s more like, very soon after, I was like, “Hey, that’s what immersion is! Was.”

    Recognizing immersion in the act is sort of like realizing you’re dreaming while you dream. Maybe. It can happen, right? But it doesn’t always happen.

    Very stray thoughts that follow:

    * I’m neither the first nor the last person to talk to when it comes to learning about the phenomenon of immersion. I see myself as qualified mainly to say, “Based on my very limited experience with the phenomenon, what these other people are saying about their own experiences makes sense to me.” In all seriousness, immersion talk makes me want to “pull a Forge” and say “Go read a half-dozen of Mary Kuhner and Irina Rempt’s 1990s-era rgfa threads and THEN come talk to me,” in the same way Forge n00bs are referred to the essays and the Famous Five threads as a prereq to joining theoretical discussions there, or Chris Chinn wants you to play a particular set of games before commenting on his blog. An awful lot of work on understanding immersion has been done.

    All of which is me saying I only have so much authority on the topic and not more.

    * I think I do believe that trance states – hypnosis, religious frenzy, rpg immersion – are social phenomena, but since I’m a materialist, I figure that “social phenomena” doesn’t mean “no change in brain states.” So I think your black box model is fine.

    * Still recognizing that I haven’t quite answered your question! Because it’s a tough one!

    My experience is that I have recognized I was immersed before anyone else in the group recognized I was immersed. But what if you had a group that was not immersive that knew an immersive player’s characteristic behaviors well? Might they know before the immersive player herself? (In one of the rgfa threads, Mary Kuhner’s husband recognizes she’s been immersing in one of her characters in the lobby of a movie theater, but it’s not clear from her report that she DIDN’T know she was doing it.) I mean, a hypnotist can recognize you’re in a trance state while you yourself deny it, right?

    I guess, in principle, I see no reason why the group couldn’t know you were immersed before you did. Say: You’re availing yourself of a black box you only use in congenial circumstances. For whatever reason, using this black box precludes any other constituent of your Self contemporaneously remarking that this particular black box is in use. Stupid homonculous! BUT, availing yourself of this black box generates some combination of somatic, verbal and social cues that people who know you recognize as atypical. These people are your fellow gamers and they say, “There goes Thomas, he’s doing it again.”

  19. Jim,

    Sweet. I think we’re pretty much on the same page. I’m sure we could have some exciting fights about minor details, but it looks like we’re mostly in agreement regarding the big stuff.

    Thomas

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