Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology

Volume 10, Issue 3, Spring 2007

Real and Virtual Places

Richard Bartle
Pages 39-54

Presence and Flow
Ill-Fitting Clothes for Virtual Worlds

Virtual worlds are a class of computer game in which large numbers of players access a shared environment simultaneously to have fun. What “having fun” means, however, is not obvious. Players talk about immersion, which suggests to some commentators that their fun may derive from the well-known psychological concepts of presence and flow. However, although these states of mind are indeed important factors in immersion, they do not capture what players themselves understand by the term. To describe fully what players are experiencing requires an examination of identity exploration – an exploration which strongly echoes the structure of ancient myth.