Emotional immersion

At the Living Games Conference a few weeks ago J Li (of Shifting Forest Storyworks) game a short talk on “emotional immersion”. You can watch it here (~19 minutes)

The game she uses as an initial example - Argentin - is one which has a very bad reputation in our community. But having listened to the talk, I now understand the design goal. Possibly doing it as a Nordic framework game (and without that one, highly problematic character) would have worked better, but that design paradigm hadn’t been popularised a decade ago when that game was written.

On the broader topic, emotional immersion is one of the things I’ve really enjoyed in larps - though I’ve usually had it in “ordinary” theatre-style games rather than purpose designed ones. Li does suggest stripped-down, focused games for producing it, and you can see that in the Nordic games (e.g. The Tribunal), but I don’t think its necessary if you have characters with rich relationships and emotional lives. But I guess it depends on whether you want the game to produce a particular emotional experience, or a range of them.

There’s also a shorter followup with Claus Raasted where she talks more about the concept of a character’s “root”, the core of a character. This isn’t usually something I think about when designing - I tend to throw down functional roles or relationships and build up from there. But I find it useful as a player to have a short (three or four word or one sentence) slogan version of a character so I know clearly what they’re all about. Its not a concept which is solely of use when designing for emotional immersion though.

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