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Ordinary Extraordinary Gamespaces :
Videogames as Transient Spaces of Everyday Life.

 

M.A. Thesis | Luis Hernandez Galvan. 
Communications and New Media.National University of Singapore.
Research Scholarship.

 

 

ABSTRACT

This thesis explores the concepts of space and time in videogames. From the designer's monitor to the player's screen, spatiotemporal elements shape the player's experience of videogame spaces, expanding on her perceptions of everyday life.

I draw on theories from art, architecture, geography and anthropology in order to understand how the spatiotemporal elements in videogames relate to contemporary approaches to space and time where the ideas of non- places and everyday life are paramount.

My central argument is that spatiotemporal experiences in videogames occur within the context of everyday life, rather than residing within the realm of “virtual reality”, a simulation that evokes the construction of a space of representation that can be related “as if” it were real, effecting a separation from the “really real”.

Everyday life happens within the context of non- places with unique characteristics and singular manipulations to which space and time are susceptible in videogames, thereby expanding on the player's field of everyday reality in particular ways. Henri Lefebvre suggested that every society produces a certain kind of space of its own and Marc Augé affirms that our supermodern times have spawned a new type of space: the non- place.

Non- places are transient spaces, devoid of relational and historical elements and Augé argues that they are the opposite of anthropological places, where inscriptions of the social bond or collective story can be seen. Anthropological places are being lost to supermodern non- places, and by using gamic examples, I will extend the concept of supermodernism to the experience of space within the game realm. These transient passages through videogames challenge us to adapt to new paradigms of interaction in space and time.

Rather than trying to conform gamespaces to notions of genius loci as in Michael Nitsche's influential model of game spatiality, I will argue that deterritorialized gamespaces are sites of perpetual transit, within each successive game title that the player explores. These gamic non- places reflect the way we experience multiple kinds of transience. Such non-places correspond to the emergence of dislocatednesses, which marks the experience of the quotidian.

My position is that we might as well enjoy the ride through such non- places, which can also inspire radical spatiotemporal approaches, urging us to change our lives and the way we interact in space and time. This research aims to contribute to videogame theory through the clarification of spatial paradigms in gamespace.

I will argue that the binary opposition of real and virtual was never valid in the first place, because of the way games dialectically influence reality and vice versa.

I propose that spatial experience is a continuous one and that videogames are capable of reconfiguring the spatiotemporal experience within everyday life. I also take a critical look at gamespaces such as Echochrome, Braid and others, from within contemporary spatial theories. Drawing on the notion of transience which is inherent to non- places will help me link the realities of gamespace to those of the physical world, or fleshspace.

 

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