An Embodied Cognition Approach for Understanding Role-playing

Article by  Simo Järvelä & me about embodied cognition and role-playing is out.


The article proposes that the theories of grounded cognition and embodiment can be utilized in explaining the role-playing experience. Embodied cognition theories assume that cognition is not only a feature of the brain, but the body as a whole and it is interaction with the environment it operates in. Grounded cognition proposes that an action, perceiving an action, and thinking about an action rely on the same processes. Moreover, knowledge is inseparably grounded to bodily states and modalities. Based on the grounded cognition theory and especially embodiment, we argue the character immersion and bleed are natural consequences on how the brain works. Also we illustrate how the operation of simulators explains some of the central features in the creation of fiction and it is similarities to our everyday experiences. In general, grounded cognition provides a rather simple explanation how fiction is experienced as in this theoretical framework action and thinking about an action largely utilize the same brain mechanics and so are phenomenally similar.

Citation information:

Lankoski, P. & Järvelä, S. (2012). An Embodied Cognition Approach for Understanding Role-playing. International Journal of Role-Playing, 3. Available at

Published by lankoski

Petri Lankoski, D.Arts, is a Associate Professor in Game Studies at the school of Communication, Media and IT at the Södertörn University, Sweden. His research focuses on game design, game characters, role-playing, and playing experience. Petri has been concentrating on single-player video games but researched also (multi-player) pnp and live-action role-playing games. This blog focuses on his research on games and related things.

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