April 25, 2004

A little immersion goes a long way

As Janet Murray of Hamlet on the Holodeck fame discussed her dream that Star Trek's holodeck will be realized, she claimed that an immersive environment would be, to paraphrase, a pretty neat thing.

I think not.

I've already discussed my general lack of interest in a holodeck-type game, but overall, I don't understand quite why great extents of immersion are necessary for computer games, or any kind of entertainment, for that matter. Aren't current levels of immersion enough?

For example, I like it when I am immersed in a book. When a book is a "page-turner," you stay up all night to finish it, and maybe even make up your own stories about the characters, or at the very least, tell someone you know that you read a great book.

TV can also be immersive. I think soap operas and serialized primetime dramas are a great example of this. Websites have cropped up all over with spoilers and discussion threads about characters. This, my friends, is weird. It's okay to read spoilers if you're missing entire blocks of shows or want to know the ending to a cliffhanger, but getting too involved in a story makes you absolutely creepy.

For example, on one soap website, it appears that people too immersed in the show get a little wacky on message boards. Here's the disclaimer from one of them (I chose a funny one for your enjoyment).

I used to have a long disclaimer here for the confused and manners-challenged people who don't know the difference between a "rumor" or "gossip" and an actual spoiler, but screw it. Angry, bitter, small minded people will always talk their trash to compensate for their own 1st chakra frustrations and inadequacies.

When you read those vicious people on the message boards, just shake your head and remember they aren't getting any play, so they're grumpy. Pity them, then dismiss them.

Now, imagine crazy soap fans on the holodeck. Yikes.

Immersion exists in tons of different forms, healthy and unhealthy. I don't see any reason why we need a VR immersion tank to confuse matters worse. Sure, no one will probably forget that real life exists outside of the holodeck, but do you really want an interactive soap opera? What will the message board disclaimers look like then?

Posted by Julie Young at April 25, 2004 04:15 PM

I like what you write about the whole immersion thing. And how some people can take it way too far with their favorite shows etc.

But I think the whole thing about immersion and the want for a future device similiar to a Star Trek Holodeck is a facinating idea.

I mean you can take your absolute favorite book/movie/or even time period and place yourself in to it without a "prose portal" or a time machine. You can interact with Heathcliff and Katherine on the moors.

I don't know i just think that would be a really neat thing.

Posted by: Allison W. at April 26, 2004 02:02 PM
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