Task immersion vs. character immersion:
Task immersion is about being really focused on and interested in the fiction, in this case. I’m immersed in the task of playing an RPG. Character immersion is all that, but while inhabiting my character, bleeding their feelings into mine (and probably vice versa), trying to embody their quirks and foibles, and making my decisions from their point of view.
If I’m inhabiting my character, say her name is Anna, I want to make my decisions based on my Anna’s internal motives. So if you ask, “Diana doesn’t come out of the bar for a long time. What do you do?” I can answer, “Crap! I go in after like 15 minutes and look around.” That’s what Anna does. Anna isn’t micro-managing, but she’s alert to risks here. So she gives Diana time, just in case, but after too long? She’s going in.
Now you ask me to paint the scene. “It’s a dingy faux-Irish pub that’s seen better days. What do you see that tells you it’s a hive of scum and villainy?” Are you asking Anna or Jon?
If I am making the decision to add a scene element from Anna’s internal motives, there is only one answer. “I see Diana. She lost track of time talking to the bartender.” Anna wants to see Diana safe and sound, so that’s what I want to be thinking about as a player. If you ask me what Anna wants, that’s what she wants.
If I am making the decision to add a scene element from Jon’s perspective, I want to use the opportunity to add complications, add interesting color, or control the scene’s tone. Thinking about it, Jon wants the story to be dark and mysterious. “I see a well-dressed raven-haired woman drinking a whiskey. At the empty seat next to her is a half-empty bottle of Shiner Bock, Diana’s favorite beer from her time spent in Texas, but there’s no money on the bar.”
“I see Diana” is all Anna wants.
“I see signs that things are going bad, but also a way to get more information” is all Jon wants.
Some people are OK switching stance rapidly. They can jump into director and back to actor in the blink of an eye. I can switch to Director easily, but it takes me a few minutes to switch back to actor stance. I don’t think I’m that unusual. Getting into someone else’s head is a lot harder/slower than stepping back into my own.
So when I play RPGs that give me a lot of directorial control, I spend the whole time in director or author stance. I start referring to my character in third person. And that’s fine. That’s fun. I think I usually prefer it, in fact.
But if your goal is to run a campaign that encourages a lot of bleed and actor-stance play, you’re going to fail with me if you keep taking me back up into director stance. I will probably still have fun, but it won’t be what you wanted.
Does that make sense?