Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Love me in a box

Four main types of gameplay Immersion can be found in games: Spatial Immersion, Emotional Immersion, Cognitive Immersion and Sensory-Motoric Immersion. from Patterns in Game Design by Staffan Björk and Jussi Holopainen
Game designers work to create immersive experiences so that a player's consciousness is drawn deeply into game play. Immersion supports the consciously chosen suspension of disbelief by directly engaging subconscious systems that generate emotional and physical responses. For most people, it is easy to separate the authentic experience of emotions within games from the fabricated environment and narrative that stimulate the experience.

The line between fantasy and reality is not so clear-cut within virtual worlds. The highly immersive nature of the experience makes it almost impossible for us to separate the real beings we interact with from the fictional elements they are enmeshed within. In the fuzzy world of anonymous relationships, authenticity becomes equated
to some extent with character consistency. This seems to be especially true in romantic relationships.

In the atomic world, relationships often have difficulty when one person makes a significant change such as newly found religious observance or even an avid hobby that their partner doesn't take up. Physical change such as significant weight gain or loss can also put stress on a relationship.

It is not surprising that in virtual worlds, relationships are very vulnerable to changes from established norms. In the atomic world, your partner may now worship Allah instead of Jesus, but you know they have the same parents, siblings, job, gender, etc. In an anonymous virtual world relationship there is nothing solid to hold onto.

It seems to me that if you are not willing to let your partner change to pursue a non-destructive interest that doesn't break a core agreement such as fidelity, the relationship is grounded more in objectification than love. This applies to all worlds.


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A beautiful thought experiment personified through the imagined perspective of a self-aware avatar. My creator's site can is at