Immersion Therapy: Keeping the In-Game Atmosphere

Hey there, friends. This is JoeFro, with a little friendly advice on gaming in an immersive environment. I have been to my fair share of games, run by all manner of people, in a variety of settings, and with a multitude of rules. And if there is one thing I have noticed, one beast that can turn any game sour like milk under a heat lamp, it is the creature known as immersion.

To explain a little more, Immersion, in a game setting, is going through the motions to make a game feel less like nerds in costumes, and more like a world where Elves, magic, and knights are real. It is the ambiance of a setting, the little touches that make the world seem to come alive, that make some people truly enjoy they experience of crawling through a tunnel to the heart of a dragon’s lair. And this can all be ruined by the person in back, wearing a pair of Adidas and making “That’s what she said,” jokes.

There are some more egregious examples of breaking immersion, like the above example. These are usually offences made by people who either don’t care about the environment, who are only there to swing a boffer and call numbers, or by people who might not know better. First time LARPers may slip up, and make some statements that can break immersion, or might not have the proper costuming or phys-reps for the character or environment. Other times, stress or environmental factors can cause people to begin to lose their character, immersion, or motivation.

He could just be writing at a table, drinking Redbull and talking about football… But that defeats the purpose of LARPing, now, doesn’t it?

It is important, when dealing with situations where somebody is severely breaking the game’s environment, to assess the situation before deciding on a course of action. Is this a first time LARPer, who might only need a little guidance, advice, or a simple push in the right direction? If so, setting the example is the most important step you can take; make your resurrection ceremony have a little extra flair, or  break out the full tool-kit when engineering up some guns. Let the players see you going the extra mile, or take a minute out of your time to tell them where they can get an awesome pair of boots for an affordable price.

Now, let’s say that the person has been coming to the game for a few months, yet is constantly guilty of breaking the game environment. I know, from personal experience, how frustrating it can be when your character is having a great scene, and somebody stumbles up to you and says something as shattering as, “Whaddup, brah?” It’s enough to make you want to scream, and you are completely justified in feeling this. However, it is important that you handle the situation in a civil manner. And if the player still doesn’t get it, approach a member of your game’s staff. They are there to help.

Before I wrap this up, there is one more thing I would like to touch on regarding immersion. It might not seem big, but there are little things that can help make a huge difference. Seeing an empty Red Bull can sitting on a table of the Inn, people making a pop-culture reference to a scene or character, or somebody singing a modern song, while all innocent infractions, are just as removing as the other examples given. Little steps like putting your drink in a cup, or putting duct-tape around the can will help keep an environment just as much as somebody in $300 worth of garb.

Take some time, at your next event, to look around your game, and see if you notice anything that might help immerse your game even more. Something as simple as turning the bic pens floating around the Inn into feather quills with costume feathers and yarn, just helps the game that much more. And the better your game’s environment is, the more likely everyone is to enjoy themselves.

Until next time, friends,

JoeFro

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