Jane over at Game Girl Advance recently had a fascinating debate with herself on the level of immersion experienced by WoW players. While on the one hand she says that she often does other things while playing WoW (checking her email, instant messaging her friends) she also says that about 10 percent of the game requires most of her attention. Perhaps, she asks, the non-immersive nature of the game is what makes it so popular?
But then she counters he own argument, stating that WoW is extremely immersive, sucking you in for blocks of hours at a time without you ever realizing it. I suppose I would have to agree with her, err both of her really. While I spend a lot of time alt-tabbing to check email for work while I game, I also find that WoW is the sort of game that draws you in. Not the same way a movie in a dark theater does. I wouldn't exactly say that I tend to forget the world around me, unless I'm in an intense instance group or perhaps a raid.
I think that the variety of gameplay is one of WoW's keys to success. You can dive in as deep as you like when you log in. You can log in, head to the nearest dungeon, and play for hours on end, or you can quest for 30 minutes to an hour and then go do something else. The nature of an MMO means that you will spend a lot of time playing it, but WoW doesn't require you to spend all your attention on it while you play.