gordon calleja


In-Game: From Immersion to Incorporation

MIT Press book link

In-Game tackles one of the most commonly discussed, yet vague concepts in the game sphere: immersion. Immersion refers to a player’s sensation of inhabiting simulated space. Overuse of this term has diminished its analytical value and confused its meaning, both in analysis and design. In this book I argue that in order to better understand a higher-order concept like immersion we need to first understand the its experiential precursors: attention and involvement.

At the heart of the book is a clear and structured overview of player engagement in the form of the Player Involvement Model. This model encompasses two constituent temporal phases: the macro, representing offline involvement, and the micro, representing moment-to-moment involvement during gameplay, as well as six dimensions of player involvement: kinesthetic, spatial, shared, narrative, affective, and ludic. The internalized experiential blend can culminate in incorporation, a concept that I propose as an alternative to the problematic immersion. Incorporation, I argue, is a more accurate metaphor, providing a robust foundation for future research and design.