Absorption, immersion, and consciousness

Joseph Glicksohn, Aviva Berkovich-Ohana

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


In this chapter, we contrast a mode of engagement in video gaming and other related areas, wherein the player retains full critical capacity-being able to judge to what degree the portrayed world is authentic, and being able to reflect on the unfolding events-with a mode of engagement wherein the player becomes absorbed or immersed in the portrayed alternative reality. In the first mode of engagement, the player retains psychological or aesthetic distance from the displayed virtual reality; in the second mode of engagement, the player is 'transported' to this virtual reality, losing herself inside this world, hence becoming immersed in this alternative reality. The predominant type of game that is found encourages an instrumental set, as players employ both tactical and strategic skills in solving problems along the way. Conceivably, the fact that trait absorption has not been found to be related to degree of engagement in video gaming or presence in immersive virtual reality is more of an indication of the type of video games in use, and the need to adopt an instrumental set in playing these, than in the expected relationship outlined in this chapter between absorption and engagement. The distinction between aesthetic experience (immersion) and aesthetic distance is similar to one we have recently drawn between trance and transcendence: Both trance and immersion implicate a severe restriction in reflective awareness-one's experience is dreamlike or hallucinatory in the sense that one is participating in an ongoing narrative (or, videogame) without reflective awareness (or, aesthetic distance). We address the need to consider three measures for assessing degree of immersion or engagement in the video game/virtual reality. These are the direct assessment of degree of immersion using a verbal report, the indirect assessment of this using a measure of time perception (time production), and an electrophysiological correlate of this change in state-with a focus on power in the alpha, theta and gamma bands.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationVideo Game Play and Consciousness
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages17
ISBN (Print)9781620811139
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • General Psychology


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