[ISEA2020] Paper: Nick Alexander — The Problem with Immersion

Abstract (short paper)

Keywords: Absorption, communitas, embodiment, engrossment, experience, immersion, praesence, presence

Existing terminology is inadequate for the study of immersive design theory. This paper proposes alternatives for the catch-all term “immersion” and suggests a structure for reliably deploying immersive practice. Absorb/engross replaces the general use of “immersion”, the distinction between engrossment by form and engrossment by transportation is highlighted, and embodied praesence is proposed as a term that engages with the sublime experience of an alternate reality that is at the heart of immersive design practice.

  • Nick Alexander M.Des. is a director, writer, and mixed reality interaction designer specializing in uncanny immersive experiences. A graduate of the Digital Futures program of the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD, Toronto, Canada), Nick has created escape games at Casa Loma, immersive theatre as co-founder of Truesight Collective, and mixed reality performance at the National Film Board of Canada. Their practice situates participants inside immersive fictions and invites them to play in altered realities. By inhabiting fictional worlds we might, perhaps, come to better understand the real one. Their website is nickalexander.ca.