a psychological sense of being in a virtual environment

Immersion provides the boundaries within which place illusion (PI) can occur.1

1. Slater, M. “Place Illusion and Plausibility Can Lead to Realistic Behaviour in Immersive Virtual Environments”. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2009 Dec 12; 364(1535): 3549–3557 Pg 6.

…immersion clearly has links to the notion of flow and cognitive absorption and all three use things like temporal dissociation and awareness of surroundings as indicators of high engagement. However, immersion is concerned with the specific, psychological experience of engaging with a computer game. This need not be the most optimal experience, often falling far below being a fulfilling experience, nor even representative of a person’s general experience of playing games. Immersion rather is the prosaic experience of engaging with a videogame. The outcome of immersion may be divorced from the actual outcome of the game: people do not always play games because they want to get immersed, it is just something that happens. It does seem though from previous work that immersion is key to a good gaming experience.2

2. Jennett, C. Cox, A. Cairns, P. Dhoparee, S. Epps, A. Tijs, T. Walton, A. “Measuring and Defining the Experience of Immersion in Games”. UCL Interaction Centre. 2008 Pg 7-8.

The VR Immersion Scale

In their paper ‘A Grounded Investigation of Game Immersion’ Emily Brown and Paul Cairns define three phases of immersion and six barriers of entry.
The VR Immersion Scale