Know Your Player Type continues on during the holiday season as we look at the opposite end of the spectrum from the Power Gamer, The Immersion Gamer. This is the type of player that loves to lose themselves in the story of the game. If a game doesn’t have a compelling story to it, they are likely to not be interested regardless of how robust the gameplay actually is. Where the Power Gamer is likely to play whatever is the best/most powerful in the game, the Immersion Gamer is much more likely to make attachments to certain characters and play them “how they would be” rather than worry about trying to make them optimized. This type will also be split into a couple variations on the overall theme. The Immersion Gamer can generally be seen in either The Actor or The Storyteller.
The Actor is the player that loves to really get into character with whatever their playing. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a character that they’ve created or even be in a game like an RPG that focuses on character development. The Actor will give you in character reasons for why they would use a certain item or dress a certain way in the game and gets upset when the game actively changes or contradicts the way they see their character. This is the player type that is going to look for roleplaying opportunities in any game. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they are looking to be the center of attention, though it will come up fairly often in this player type, but rather that they are looking to find the motivations for their character and play in such a way that makes sense for how they view it should be.
When you have an Actor in your game, it can be either a blessing or a curse depending on what type of game you are looking to play. If you want to run a hack and slash, murderhobo simulator then the Actor is probably going to bristle at the lack of interaction and character development. However, if you have a game that deals with story and character, then the Actor can be a great asset. They are the most likely to have detailed character information including story hooks for the person running the game. They are also likely to try to engage other players in character and get them more involved in the story that is being played. Keeping an Actor happy in your game is easy enough. All you need is to provide some opportunities for them to roleplay and showcase the character they’ve created. Just be wary of them attempting to hijack any game that you play and make it all about their special snowflake of a character that is way more interesting than yours.
The Storyteller shares a lot in common with the Actor. They are also concerned with the story and character development but what generally sets them apart is the focus of their attention. Where the Actor is almost entirely focused on giving life to a character, the Storyteller is focused on the setting as a whole. The Storyteller loves to soak up the lore of a game and will generally be more enthusiastic about “world building” than getting the stats right. This is the type of player that doesn’t just want to play a game but wants to read all the tie-in novels and discuss the historical context for the actions of the NPCs. They are the most likely to be the person that will run a table top game and probably be a setting that they either came up with entirely themselves or tweaking the main setting to more proper fit what they have in mind for the story.
Pretty much any table top RPG group is going to want to have at least one Storyteller in the mix because they are the most likely to run the game and not hate it. At their best, the Storyteller takes the other players into an expansive and interesting world. They give intriguing plots and there is plenty of background information for those that go looking for it. They can show you the world. Shining, shimmering, splendid. At their worst, the Storyteller can get so bogged down with the world and the people and events going on in it that they often lose sight of the players. They can also often forget that the other players either don’t care as much about the setting as they do or just don’t know as much. This can be especially bad in player created settings as they will often want you to interact with their world without grasping just how much still only exists in their head. They are also likely to want to talk lore with you which can range from interesting (Mass Effect) to headache inducing (D&D: Forgotten Realms).
It’s probably fairly easy to find common ground with the Immersion Gamer when you are playing together. We, as humans, tend to love narrative and seek it out in books, movies, television, comics and games. While it may not be the reason we are playing a particular game, we all have favorite stories and understand the urge to get lost in a fantasy. Being focused on playing for the story or the characters is definitely fine, though if you’ve ever had some gamer come up to you and randomly start telling you about his awesome Half-elf Bard Lorellywn the Light-footed then you know that there is a limit. However, taking a game and adding in these intricate settings and people can make it go from being just a fun pastime into being a truly memorable experience that you will be discussing for years to come. But seriously, I don’t want to hear about your Half-elf Bard.