Immersion has a number of meanings in larp. It is usually taken to mean the act of "becoming" the character so that their emotions feel real and suspension of disbelief and role-playing becomes unnecessary. In some (mostly US) contexts it is used to refer to the 360 degree illusion. This has been referred to as "outer" or "physical" immersion, contrasted with "inner", "psychological" or "character" immersion. Some theorists also postulate a third sort of immersion, "narrative immersion", of belief in the story. Because of these different definitions, some have argued that the term is useless.
Lauri Lukka suggests that (character) immersion is a dissociative state, in which the player uses empathy and theory of mind to imagine the game setting through the eyes of the character. This state can be strengthened by a supportive physical setting (e.g. the 360 degree illusion), and in the right circumstances, it can become self-reinforcing for limited periods of time. In less supportive physical settings, immersion requires self-suggestion. Mike Pohjola stresses this self-suggestion element; immersion is the player "pretend[ing] to believe she is the character".
- What does full immersion mean?, Last Hope Larp. Retrieved 5 February 2016.
- Nathan Hook, "A Social Psychology Study of Immersion Among Live Action Role-players". In Sarah Lynne Bowman and Aaron Vanek (eds), WyrdCon Companion 2012, p. 109.
- J. Tuomas Harviainen, "The multi-tier game immersion theory". In Morten Gade, Line Thorup, and Mikkel Sander (eds), As Larp Grows Up: Theory and Methods in Larp. Knudepunkt 2003.
- Matthijs Holter, "Stop saying “immersion”!" In Jesper Donnis, Morten Gade, Line Thorup (eds), Lifelike. Knudepunkt 2007, p. 19-23.
- Lauri Lukka, "The Psychology of Immersion: Individual Differences and Psychological Phenomena Relating to Immersion". In Jon Back (ed), The Cutting Edge of Nordic Larp, Knutpunkt 2014, p 85-86.
- Lukka (2014), p. 87.
- Mike Pohjola, "Autonomous Identities: Immersion as a Tool for Exploring, Empowering and Emancipating Identities". In Markus Montola and Jaakko Stenros (eds), Beyond Role and Play, Solmukohta 2004, p. 84.
- Hook (2012), p. 108.