In-Game: From Immersion to Incorporation
(In-Game: Immersion & Incorporation, Gordon Calleja, MIT Press, 2011)
From the tranquil exploration of gorgeously drawn landscapes to the deeply cognitive difficulties given by strategic simulations to the adrenaline thrill of competitive team-based shoot-outs, digital games offer a wide range of fascinating experiences. A reader's interaction with literature or a moviegoer's experience with a film are vastly different when it comes to digital gaming.
Gordon Calleja analyses what makes digital games so engaging, and proposes a new, more precise, and game-specific definition of this involvement in In-Game. Immersion—a player's experience of inhabiting the space shown onscreen—is one of the most often used yet ill-defined notions in the industry and academia. In both analysis and design, overuse of this phrase has lowered its analytical value and muddled its meaning. Calleja sees immersion as a synthesis of multiple experiential phenomena made possible by engaging gameplay, rather than a single experience.
He presents the player engagement model as a framework for describing these phenomena (based on qualitative research). This model includes two temporal phases: the macro, which represents offline participation, and the micro, which represents moment-to-moment involvement during gameplay, as well as six player involvement dimensions: kinesthetic, spatial, shared, narrative, emotive, and ludic. Incorporation—a notion proposed by Calleja as an alternative to the problematic immersion—can result from the heightened and internalized experiential mix. He claims that incorporation is a more accurate metaphor, as it provides a solid framework for future research and design.