Meeting kin: does it spoil immersion in MMOs?
A month or so back various members of my LOTRO kinship decided it would be fun if we all met up in real life and spent some time together. So we all headed to Cambridge, played games, ate cake and had a fine time. It wasn’t the first time I had met people from my kin. I had already met a couple of them in a trip to Sweden and met another, who lived conveniently close to me, for coffee. Funnily enough this kinmate has an almost identical name to me, varying by a mere three letters, and is in almost exactly the same career…I’m still not quite convinced that we’re not the same person.
Anyway, a while later I was telling someone about the meet-up. One of the things that they particularly wanted to know was whether, now I had seen people and met them, had my view of their in-game character had changed. Had it somehow spoiled immersion within the game?
This made me think. The person Id been talking to thought it would for him. In the end, I thought for me, it hasn’t. I think meeting in real-life has given me more of an insight to the player behind the game, what they’re like, maybe feel closer (especially in TeamSpeak when I can hear them), but in-game, no, their character has stayed a character and a separate entity. I still see the dwarf in front of me and not the person playing him (or at least not any less than I did before). I’m not sure if this is because I have been a role-player for many years and so the concept of someone being different from their character is pretty ingrained. I know that my friends in Sweden somehow expected me to be like my first elven character; tall, graceful and academic. They told me cheerfully after meeting me, that I had turned out to be exactly the opposite..er thanks, though they did seem to think that this was a good thing! Anyway has the revelation that I am short, clumsy and vulgar affected their view of my in-game character, well it hasn’t seemed to..though maybe they are a bit less surprised when she falls off staircases and bridges!