Understanding Immersion

A UiS Research Project. The quality of being immersive is increasingly held to be a desirable experiential characteristic. Immersive experience has been studied in considerable depth in the context of digital media, but there is now a need to conduct interdiciplinary research into its nature as a general phenomenon and into its many important manifestations in communication, action and social contexts.

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About the project

This project aims to explore the analytic potential of the notion of immersion as a general phenomenon, and to publish a volume with new contributions from renowned scholars in fields such as philosophy, sociology, music, literature, games, architecture, cinema and psychiatry.  We address questions such as: What is the nature of immersive experiences? How does the specific medium manage to facilitate them? What is their moral, aesthetic or political value?

Project coordinators
Tarjei Mandt Larsen
John R. Sageng
John R. Sageng
Tarjei Mandt Larsen

Associate Professor UiS Business School

E-mail: tarjei.m.larsen@uis.no
Phone: (+47) 51 83 37 57

John Richard Sageng

Game Philosophy Network (ekstern)

E-mail: j.r.sageng@gamephilosophy.org

" Immersion is a metaphorical term derived from the physical experience of being submerged in water. We seek the same feeling from a psychologically immersive experience that we do from a plunge in the ocean or swimming pool: the sensation of being surrounded by a completely other reality, as different as water is from air, that takes over all of our attention, our whole perceptual apparatus".

Janet Murray , Professor Georgia Tech

Volume on Varieties of Immersive Experience

The research group is presently working a volume on immersion. In this volume, we aim to provide the first authoritative attempt to explore the analytic potential of the notion of immersion as a general phenomenon.

Photo by Kelvin Han on Unsplash

This volume will address the following questions:

1. What are immersive experiences? Do they share a common psychological structure, or does the word designate disparate phenomena that merely exhibit family resemblances? We are interested in philosophical contributions that explore the connections to notions such as subject position, imagination, perceptual horizon, embodiment, phenomenal character, enchantment, action, flow, embodiment, selective attention, social frames, affective attitudes, and constitution of the self.
2. How do context specific determinants shape immersive experiences? In particular, how are they shaped by the affordances and constraints provided by the medium within which they occur? We call for contributions from the humanistic and social sciences that analyze such elements as improvisation techniques, music, action, avatar-presence, ritual practices, cinematic techniques, therapeutic methodology, narrative devices and so on.
3. What is the significance or value of immersive experience? How are immersive experiences beneficial or detrimental to their respective contexts? We are interested in moral, political and value-oriented discussions that touch on normative roles such as fun, escapism, trust, personal transformation, participation, persuasion, manipulation, criticism, modes of epistemic access, ideological framing, and knowledge-acquisition.

The volume is edited by Tarjei Mandt Larsen and John R. Sageng”. For the full "Call for Submissions" to this volume, use the link: Call for Papers: Varieties of Immersive Experience


UiB emblem

November 18th, at the University of Bergen

Location : Room 514 Infomedia, University of Bergen


  • 12.00 Why Immersion is a Useless Concept (at Best) in the Study of Video Games and Virtual Reality, Rune Klevjer
  • 12.30 All Roads Lead to Immersion, Joachim Munthe
  • 13.00 Perceptual Content for Immersive Experiences, John R. Sageng
  • 13.30 The Perceptual Basis for Atmospheres, Tarjei Mandt Larsen
  • 14.00 Break
  • 14.15. Augustine and Heidegger on Immersion, Mysticism, and Everydayness, Espen Dahl
  • 14.45 Many Senses of Transcendence/Immersion, Hari Narayanan
  • 15.15 Presence Breaks in Immersive VR: A Phenomenological Perspective, Joakim Vindenes
  • 16.00 Drinks and food at Kafe Spesial

Workshop in Berlin, June 23 - 24, 2023

The workshop venue, Regenbogen Fabrik

36 Jahre in SO36: Geburtstagsprogramm der Regenbogenfabrik - Kreuzberg
Regenbogen Fabrik Berlin


Regenbogenfabrik, Lausitzer Straße 21a, 10999 Berlin

Friday June 23

  • 10.00 Dimensions of Immersive Experience , Tarjei M. Larsen
  • 11.00 Theatre of Engrossment: Audience Involvement in Immersive Theatre, Theresa Schütz
  • 13.00 Lunch
  • 14.00 Consumption of Extraordinary Experiences: The Dynamics of Immersion to the “Roof of Africa”, Frank Lindberg
  • 15.00 Presence as a Novelty Effect of Immersive Virtual Reality: A Phenomenological Analysis, Joakim Vindenes
  • 15.30 The World as an Experiential Structure, John R. Sageng

Saturday June 24

  • 10.00 Dimensions of Immersion and Episodic Simulation , Ying-Tung Lin
  • 11.00 Everyday Immersion, Edmund Dain
  • 12.00 Flow, Unreflective Immersive Action, and the Fringe of Consciousness, Simon Kittle
  • 13.00 Lunch
  • 14.00 Being-in-Situ. Immersion as a Fundamental Tendency of Human Experience, Tom Poljanšek
  • 15:00 The values of immersive reading experiences: the reception of Knausgård’s My Struggle, Knut Oterholm
  • 16:00 When Is a Work Immersive?, Nathan Wildman
  • 17.00 Closing session

Standard format is 25 minutes for presentation and 25 minutes for discussion. For some first manuscript drafts, see a list below.

Manuscript drafts and presentation materials

Saturday, June 3, 2023, 17:00 - 18:00, Venue; Loftet, Tou

Panel Discussion: The Value of Empathy and Alternative Experience Spaces

What makes it so easy for us to immerse ourselves in the fiction of art or the fictional worlds of video games? What motivates us to seek out alternative spaces for experiences, both real and imaginary?

Wonderful World Festival
External site in Norwegian for the Wonderful World Festival 2023

Wonderful world is a nordic festival and the program was mainly in Norwegian, and so was the contribution of Siv Helen Stangeland & Reinhard Kropf, architects, partners and creative directors at Helen & Hard; John Richard Sageng, Philosopher and researcher at the Department of Information and Media Studies at the University of Bergen (UiB) and Tarjei Mandt Larsen, Associate Professor of Philosophy at the UiS Business School and leader of the research project "Understanding Immersion."