Thursday 23 June 2016

Diegetic steering

Full immersion is the unreachable desire of many larpers. A reminder of our first larp. A demanding path that rewards with deeply moving experiences. But this approach is not free of danger, one of the most relevant being the possibility to prioritize the characters desires over the larp ones.
The steering technique allows to modify non-diegetically the direction and motivations of a character. This while useful, requires an extra effort for the participant and creates an immersion gap. Therefore a diegetic steering approach would be more desirable.

About one year ago I had an unpleasant experience when my best performance so far left me isolated from a larp1. Since then I'm unable to find the equilibrium between flow2 and excessive immersion.
While looking for solutions to my blockade I was refereed to articles3 discussing the steering technique. This technique intends to externally redirect the player back to the larp, leading to a more natural immersion, dramatic situations and enhance of other players larp. In short to improve the experience by a non-diegetical conscious reflection.
This idea presents great value but still is an additional inconvenience towards full immersion.

All definitions I have encountered present the steering technique as non-diegetical. Has it to be that way? Is it not possible to turn the steering into a diegetical tool? Why not grant the character the ability of steering? Steering becomes then a conscious capability for the character that can be repeated as much as desired while keeping the immersion.

Take for example that my character is quite thoughful and carries a note book where to write about past, present and future deeds. Now my character is vain and loves to speak in front of a mirror, what if my character is superstitious and carries the I Ching to foresee the future, or maybe a crystal ball or the tarot. It could even be a general technique inside the larp: a discussion with an organizer or a dead character that represents the memory of an old friend.

In case of character reconversion due to external knowledge4 some non-diegetical thinking will be required, but still the loose of immersion will be reduced by the diegetical tool carried by the character.

This raw idea, required of testing, could highly reduce the loss of immersion while still granting the benefits of steering.

1 It did allow me to experience what being a pariah means and how it leads to depression. Also granted me many congratulations due to my performance. But after 9 hours of almost zero interaction the depression and feeling of failure became real. An experience that hunts me so far.
2  Refereed to Somnia play to flow style.
E.g. in case of higher levels of transparency that grant the participant with additional information with the intention of improving the experience.

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