Immersion isn’t a mass market activity in that sense, because most people are comfortable being who they are and where they are. It’s us crazy dreamers who are unmoored, and who always seek out secondary worlds.
It’s just that games aren’t just for crazy dreamers anymore.
Please, always let there be people making pies for crazy dreamers. :(
P.S. In Koster's LegendMUD, I found the only virtual world I have EVER truly 'lived' in. The man knows what he's talking about, when it comes to immersion.
There were a lot of responses to Raph's post, and a lot of them arguing that he defined immersion incorrectly.
What really struck a chord with me when I read his post though, was that my idea of immersion is being able to actually live in a world. Where, much like being immersed in a good book - everything goes away. Even 'you' go away. 'You' can be someone else so not yourself, that it's like a vacation from yourself. Movies don't give me that - in movies, no matter how entertained I am, I'm always an observer. Same with MMOs.
It's also not so much needing to feel that your choices can affect the fate of the world in any dramatic way - seriously, I don't feel that in real life, and I live there some of the time! But more the feeling that your choices in the world matter to YOU on a personal and emotional level, as well as an economic one (woot, moar stats always shiny).
Immersion for me, is where the people you deal with have their contextual and emotional reality tied into the world you are both/all inhabiting, where everyone makes sense in the context of said world. Has a context in said world. Has a... meaning in said world.
This is not something any MMO has ever given me. No MMO has given me the feeling that the other people I've dealt with are a living and breathing part of the world we inhabited, that they were grounded in it, rooted in it, had a history in it, could not be the same anywhere else, in any other world. To be quite honest, the social side of MMOs that isn't tied to game architecture seems very much like a glorified chatroom.
...that's what I think of, when I think of immersion.
...that's what I've been mourning ever since I left LegendMUD.