According to Ernest W. Adams, author and consultant on game design, immersion can be separated into three main categories:
- Tactical immersion
- Tactical immersion is experienced when performing tactile operations that involve skill. Players feel "in the zone" while perfecting actions that result in success.
- Strategic immersion
- Strategic immersion is more cerebral, and is associated with mental challenge. Chess players experience strategic immersion when choosing a correct solution among a broad array of possibilities.
- Narrative immersion
- Narrative immersion occurs when players become invested in a story, and is similar to what is experienced while reading a book or watching a movie.
Staffan Björk and Jussi Holopainen, in Patterns In Game Design, divide immersion into similar categories, but call them sensory-motoric immersion, cognitive immersion and emotional immersion, respectively. In addition to these, they add a new category:
- Spatial immersion
- Spatial immersion occurs when a player feels the simulated world is perceptually convincing. The player feels that he or she is really "there" and that a simulated world looks and feels "real".