It's not that I resent more people liking pie. It's just that I want there to be my particular favourite flavour of pie, too.

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.

Moar thoughts:
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.

Virtual Homesickness

A while back, I bought a beautiful illustrated edition of the poem Beowulf, translated by Seamus Heaney and John D. Niles. I plopped down on the couch and stuck my nose into my lovely new book, with all the wonderful heft and flop that only good paper has. I hadn't gone beyond the first five verses before I was hit by a terrible wave of homesickness... for LegendMUD.

I could suddenly see Hygelac's mead hall, with women of the Geats wandering about. I could hear the songs praising Hygelac as a gold-giver. Vivid memories of crawling along a ledge above the lava to peer down at the dragon Fadhmir, with death just a mis-step away (thanks to that deathtrap in the lava...) washed over me. And I abruptly missed the world of LegendMUD so much my heart felt like a stuffed toy clutched by a distraught child. =/

Very often, when people talk about virtual worlds, they say that it's the people that contribute to them sticking around. That the social connections and people they meet mean more than the world, in the end. In terms of MMOs, I think it's certainly true. But for me and LegendMUD... I'm not so sure. The things I miss so much, that my nuggetty heart fills with longing to see again, that - honestly, if melodramatically - I'm still brim-full with love for, are not the players. If I had a chance to mosey around a LegendMUD empty of people, to visit all my old haunts, and just totally sink into that rich world again - I'd take it in a heartbeat. Oddly enough, it's very much the fact that I might still know some people there, or even worse, that they might know me, that makes me certain I'll never go back again.

Don't get me wrong. I love LegendMUD very, very much. For a newbie, the community is superb. I've been saying for years to anyone who'll listen: if you only ever play one MUD, make it LegendMUD. It's that good. And having played at least 750 MU*s over my MU-ltiverse hopping nuggetlife, I'd say I have a fairly decent gauge of which MUDs are worth playing. LegendMUD is the best MUD I've ever played. It may be one of the best games I've ever played. It is certainly the best digital world I've ever lived in. I'd go so far as to say it's the only digital world I've ever lived in.

I'll recommend LegendMUD to anyone and everyone... but I also tell the recommendees that I simply cannot and will not go back. Not even to show them around.

This, naturally, leads to a certain amount of, 'Uhh, but nuggeet. If it's so great, why won't you go back and play wif me?' =/

And then it gets hard to explain. But since I've spammed this much, struggle gamely on I shall, and without any regard to political correctness!

To a nugget, LegendMUD is like the girl you thought you would spend the rest of your life with... until she broke your heart into so many teeny tiny pieces that even crazy glue + an OCD sufferer could never be able to put it back together again. You still love her so, so much. You want only good things for her. And you can never stand to see her again.

I left LegendMUD just over 5 years ago, after playing for 8. And you know, I think I'm still not over her. Maybe you never get over that girl. You might grow wiser, older, and more peelosopical... but there's always an empty room in your heart where she used to be. this nugget can't go back.

...but she can sure feel homesick down to her very bottomest batterbits. :(

Which leads to the pondering - could it be that people so often cite the 'community' and 'social ties' as reasons that keep them to a world, especially with regards to MMOs, precisely because those worlds are so hollow? Comparing MMO worlds to LegendMUD (or any decent MUD) is like comparing Twinkies to a full course meal. The difference in depth and richness is that great.

If we had more digital worlds that our minds could live in, instead of just chasing achievements and pretty graphics, would there be more people citing the world as a thing to love, and a reason to stay?

Or is this nugget just Not Normal?