Cuttell [Abstract]

Arguing for an immersive method: Reflexive meaning-making, the visible researcher, and moral responses to gameplay [Full text]

Joanna Cuttell [1]

Abstract:  This article argues for the adoption of an immersive-participatory method when analysing interactive media. It builds upon and extends existing theorisations of immersion and applies them to the development of new methods of analysis. This paper theorises immersion during gameplay as an affective, embodied state, which is both active and passive and achieved via both visual and imaginative engagement with the game world and haptic communication with the player character. This article’s argument is fourfold: firstly, it situates and negotiates the tensions surrounding the major debates, discussions and analyses in the study of immersion, both within gaming and in wider contexts; secondly, it argues for the inclusion of a participatory immersive method to be undertaken by the researcher when analysing media (especially interactive media such as video games); thirdly, it outlines the ways in which this method could be implemented by researchers, and finally, it draws on examples from my own research journal and discusses the possibility of a moral habitus which allows the player to engage in violent gameplay without experiencing the moral dissonance that can disrupt immersive states. Ultimately, this article aims to render the position of the researcher visible in order that we might gain critical purchase on the immersive praxis of gaming and the ethical/political responses of the player. In so doing, it is hoped that this article will aid theoretical and methodological innovation in this field and provoke discussion in a wider media studies context.

Keywords: Immersion, interactive media, reflexivity, autoethnography, ethical response, habitus

[1] Department of Sociology, University of Warwick, United Kingdom,