Immersed in Difficulty: The problem of suspension of disbelief in Transmedia and VR experiences

Dalby, James R ORCID: 0000-0002-9948-3975 (2016) Immersed in Difficulty: The problem of suspension of disbelief in Transmedia and VR experiences. Online Journal of Communication and Media Technologies, 7 (Sep SI). pp. 67-85.

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Presupposing the somewhat ‘negotiable’ concept of ‘suspension of disbelief’ and its associated psychological concepts are necessary for audience immersion in traditional fictional narratives, this paper examines the potential conflicts we encounter when attempting to create similar immersion in cross-platform, multi-touchpoint Transmedia storytelling. Beginning with Holland (1960) and the notion that ‘suspension of disbelief’ requires firstly a ‘frame’ to partition the narrative from everyday experience, and secondly that audiences are not expected to “act as a result of literary or artistic expression”, we begin to see the potential dichotomy inherent in all Transmedia projects; namely that participants/audiences are asked to interact with a ‘lean-forward’ storytelling concept, actively being called upon to make decisions and remain in the ‘planning to act’ mode that Holland asserts must be bypassed before immersion can take place. Not only this, but the concept of a story existing across multiple touchpoints and platforms – technologies with ‘frames’ – ensures that audiences are continually reminded that the whole narrative is ‘artificial’, again providing a potential obstacle to immersion. This paper will examine a number of potential responses to this problem, concluding that immersion and even ‘suspension of disbelief’ is still fundamentally possible – and necessary - in Transmedia storytelling, and using the lessons learned from Ludology and ‘gamification’ theory as part of the response.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Additional Information: Paper presented at the 5th International Conference on Communication, Media, Technology & Design (ICCMTD), held in Zagreb 27 - 29 May 2016. Paper delivered on May 28th.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Suspension of disbelief; Virtual reality; Transmedia; REF2021
Related URLs:
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Creative Arts
Research Priority Areas: Creative Practice and Theory
Culture, Continuity, and Transformation
Depositing User: James Dalby
Date Deposited: 25 Oct 2016 10:03
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2023 19:31

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