The Peyton Enhanced Reality Immersion Grid

Mapped Business Applications (Featured in Blue on the grid)


For this visualization, I wanted to somehow simplify the complex world of immersive digital technology. With hundreds of new devices, software applications, virtual communities, augmented reality experiences and the like, my hope was to try and create a grid that would compare many of these technologies side-by-side. You can explore the interactive version of this grid on Tableau Public.

My first question was to explore what ‘Immersion’ actually means and try to establish some core components. Wikipedia outlines virtual reality ‘immersion’ as “the state of consciousness where an immersant’s awareness of physical self is diminished or lost by being surrounded in an engrossing total environment.” Webster’s dictionary simply defines ‘Immersion as ‘deep mental involvement’. So what are the psychological forces that help drive an immersive experience or help to create ‘deep mental involvement’?

Famed researcher, Csíkszentmihályi outlines six factors that he feels contributes to immersive experiences or ‘flow’. They include (Nakamura & Csíkszentmihályi, 2001):

  • Intense and focused concentration on the present moment
  • Merging of action and awareness
  • A loss of reflective self-consciousness
  • A sense of personal control or agency over the situation or activity
  • A distortion of temporal experience, one’s subjective experience of time is altered

A more simplistic view of immersion, as outlined by James Madigan, includes the concepts of spatial presence and involvement. Spatial presence is the ability for the media user to feel they are actually a part of the digital environment. Involvement measures the amount of agency or freedom the user experiences in the environment. In other words, how much they can alter or impact the narrative or plot. Madison outlines factors that can contribute to both creating the sensation of spatial presence and involvement, they include (Madison, 2010):

  • multiple channels of sensory information
  • cognitively demanding environment
  • strong narrative, plot, or story
  • consistent behavior from things in the game world
  • interactivity with items in the game world


Keeping these concepts in mind, I have drafted a grid that attempts to show a scale for the values of involvement or agency on the Y axis and a scale for the amount of digital technology on the X axis. I have then plotted several real-world examples (shaded blue) of both augmented and virtual reality applications on the grid.


Nakamura, J.; Csikszentmihalyi, M. (20 December 2001). “Flow Theory and Research”. In C. R. Snyder Erik Wright, and Shane J. Lopez. Handbook of Positive Psychology. Oxford University Press. pp. 195–206. ISBN 978-0-19-803094-2. Retrieved 20 November 2013.

Madigan, J. (2010). Analysis: The Psychology of Immersion in Video Games  Retrieved from: