NLP - Association and Dissociation in games.

The gist

In Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), there’s something called association and dissociation.


The gist of it is that association means being present or fully immersed in an experience. In the case of a memory, according to Joseph O’Connor’s NLP Workbook, this can often mean experiencing the memory in first person and feeling like you’re in that moment - remembering how you felt and what you saw as if it was all happening again.


Dissociation is being external or perceiving yourself to be outside of your body in an experience or memory. This can mean looking at yourself in a memory and observing the memory more so than reliving it. Kind of like watching a scene unfold in front of you.

Thus, the NLP Workbook gave a good tip that’s worked for me a few times - if you’re remembering something like an embarrassing moment, or a bad experience, remember it in a dissociated state. Observing the scene from the outside as opposed to being in your body as it happens allows one to remain more objective and not feel the raw emotions so much.

If you’re remembering something good and pleasant, a positive memory you’d like to relive, it can be remembered in an associated state. Putting yourself into your body and viewing it through your own eyes can bring back detailed sensory memories you never even knew you stored. This makes the experience more subjective and personal and allows you to relive what you were feeling - from emotions to touch, smell, sound, etc.

POV in games

I wonder to what extent this can influence a player’s experience in a game - specifically character viewpoints. We’ve all seen FPS games where you walk around looking at yourself in third person and those where you’re playing in first person and viewing the world through the eyes of the character (and in some games you can switch back and forth depending on preference).

The question

Does the viewpoint make any difference to how a player experiences the game world and how he experiences the character he or she is playing? Being a game, you can’t actually physically experience more sensations no matter what POV is being used, but do you feel more immersed in the person you’re playing and in the world itself in first person? Do you feel more “separate” from the world, more like you’re on the outside looking in, when playing in third person? I wonder if some people actually recreate the feeling of the environmental elements in games if the immersion is deep enough, at least to an extent?

If the concepts of association and dissociation can be used to any extent in the game world, encouraging deeper immersion in the world and storyline through association wouldn’t necessarily always be the goal. For example, a dream sequence could work better as a dissociated experience, as might temporarily taking control of another character that you’re not actually meant to connect with.

Personally, as someone who doesn’t particularly like FPS games in the first place because she gets too stressed out and scared of the monsters, I find that I get even more scared and stressed out when I’m viewing the game world through the character’s eyes. That’s not saying that I think the first person viewpoint is necessarily better than third person - there have been plenty of times when I’ve been annoyed about not being able to see myself running around, or not being able to rotate the camera every which way around the character. For me personally being in first person at least makes the world seem more claustrophobic (probably at least partly because I can no longer have eyes in the back of my head).

© - 2021 · Liza Shulyayeva ·