SEV as a holistic and immersive SEM experience?

Throughout this chapter 1 have followed Smith & Campbell’s (2016) approach of “recognizing reason/cognition, affect/emotion, and memory as being mutually constitutive and reinforcing of each other” in “heritage sites, history education, and memory practices” (452). This lays the groundwork for further analysis of RH+TRPG+LARP as encounters with heritage.

The mixed Calleja/Bowman/Schmitt/Wang model from Chapter 1 demonstrates the complex interdependence of multiple layers of experience, seen from multiple perspectives on experience, authenticity and immersion. Its complexity reflects Matos & Barbosa’s (2018) vision of heritage authenticity as a complex gestalt of the objective, the constructive, and the existential (see Chapter 1.1). This helps in finding answers to two questions implied in the title of this section: 1) Can SEV use all SEMs holistically? 2) Can SEV afford immersion?

According to Schmitt (1999), experiential marketing may make use of single-SEM experiences, or hybridise two or more, or aim at holistic experiences engaging all five. The multidimensionality of the SEV experiences - as discussed in this chapter - includes perception of space, physical movement and manipulation, cognition, emotion, and social interactions on-site and off-site. The more interactive forms of SEV, providing visitors with tactile manipulation of objects, conversations with living history interpreters, and participation in staged events, can become truly holistic SEM experiences. Cerquetti (2018. 164) illustrates this with the Poggibonsi Archaeodrome in Italy:

  • 1 Sense: albeit in the absence of real artefacts, which are fragmentary or preserved elsewhere, visitors can “touch” the past, i.e., reconstructions made from the same materials used in the Carolingian Age (e.g., soil, water, straw, wood, hemp, etc.), and smell or taste medieval food during, for example, historical tastings and dinners
  • 2 Feel: visitors participate in different situations from everyday life in a Carolingian Age village (e.g., ceremonies such as funerals or marriages)
  • 3 Think: visitors are critically engaged, by thinking, questioning, and learning about history; this process also involves scholars
  • 4 Act: visitors act and interact with historical characters during their visit asking questions and sharing their knowledge
  • 5 Relate: visitors relate to historical characters and other visitors during and after the visit (i.e., through social networks)

Showing that SEV can be designed as a holistic five-SEMs event, Cerquetti (2018) wants to inspire heritage managers to follow the example. What 1 want to demonstrate with the mixed C/B/S/W model is how the previously-dis-cussed ‘glass case’ site visitation contrasts with highly interactive and participatory SEV like the Archaeodrome. Soon (Chapter 3) 1 will examine how traditional SEV contrasts with RH+TRPG+LARP.

In the meantime, the mixed model helps me answer two questions raised before:

  • 1 Yes, Cerquetti (2018) shows that one SEV can holistically use all SEMs. In addition to that, linking Schmitt’s SEMs to Wang’s heritage authenticities, I suspect that such SEV experiences may be holistic in both meanings. In other words, engaging all five SEMs may translate to all five authenticities.
  • 2 Aligning these with forms of game involvement/immersion, 1 may analogically conclude that all five SEMs translate to nearly-holistic immersion in the environment of the heritage site. Why? Because the SEMs correlate with five (out of six) Bowman’s types of immersion in role-playing, adapted from Calleja’s layers of involvement in video games.

Summing up the line of thought, a SEV engaging all five SEMs may activate all five heritage authenticities and five (of six) forms of immersive involvement.

 
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