The inaugural post



So, the inaugural post. This blog has been a long time coming, whether I knew it or not. So now that I’ve spent hours fiddling around with settings, creating a beautiful header, and organising links to some of my favourite places on the internet, I actually don’t have too much to say. I’m not going to plan too much how I approach this, but I do know that I primarily want to use it as a place for my thoughts that I can’t put elsewhere – my own voice of sorts.

Most importantly, I just handed in a thesis on videogames, and I’m eagerly awaiting the result. It was titled From above, from below: navigating the videogame, and I hope to make it available online to all who misguidedly wish to view it at a later date. As it is, I feel slightly indebted to Ben Abraham, who also recently finished a videogaming thesis and posted his abstract to whet our appetites for the full thing. It’s only fair, then, that I retaliate: below is the abstract of my thesis, for better, or for worse. I’m not sure when I get the result, but I do know that I have to make up my mind in the next two weeks as to whether I want to do Masters by Research or a PhD next year, which of course, requires a proposal to be worked on…

The study of videogames is still evolving. While many theorists have accurately described aspects of the medium, this thesis seeks to move the study of videogames away from previously formal approaches and towards a holistic method of engagement with the experience of playing videogames. Therefore, I propose that videogames are best conceptualised as navigable, spatial texts. This approach, based on Michel de Certeau’s concept of strategies and tactics, illuminates both the textual structure of videogames and the immediate experience of playing them. I also regard videogame space as paramount. My close analysis of Portal (Valve Corporation, 2007) demonstrates that a designer can choose to communicate rules and fiction, and attempt to influence the behaviour of players through strategies of space. Therefore, I aim to plot the relationship between designer and player through the power structures of the videogame, as conceived through this new lens.

Hopefully that hasn’t scared you off, and that one day I’ll post something here worth commenting on. If that miracle does come to pass, then please feel free to leave your thoughts. In other words: I like commenters. Do you like commenting?



Filed under study, videogames

5 responses to “The inaugural post

  1. Wow, that sounds genuinely interesting – and i’m not just saying. Looking forward to the full text becoming available!

  2. Ben sent me this way and I’m looking forward to your future posts. I’m also writing a thesis about spatial exploration in games, dealing specifically with the construction of urban and city space. One thing I’d be interested in seeing is your list of works referenced–I’m always looking for new good stuff to inform my writing.

  3. subjectnavigator

    Wow, Bobby, I had a quick look at your blog (now added to my RSS reader), and your thesis topic sounds absolutely fascinating. I wrote an undergrad essay on a similar topic, but that would hardly compare with what you are undertaking. I think the city in the videogame is an absolutely fascinating concept, and for my MA/PhD/whatever I do, I was thinking of applying notions of the miniature in order to conceptualise it. Very interesting stuff. I would give anything to be where you are, studying in that atmosphere.

    In terms of works referenced – that’s a six or seven page document at the moment, and not all would be relevant, but it’ll certainly be up with the full text. You’ll have probably read most of what I refer to anyway, but here are some highlights just in case:
    – Jenkins, “Game Design as Narrative Architecture”
    – Jenkins and Fuller, “Nintendo and New World Travel Writing”
    – Guiliana Bruno, “Atlas of Emotion”
    – Anne Friedberg, “The Virtual Window”

    I also used Debord and the Lettrist International’s concept of Psychogeography, which is worth looking into if; there’s a few anthologies out there worth tracking down.
    Similarly, if you haven’t yet read de Certeau’s “The Practice of Everyday Life”, go find it now – I consider it essential, especially the chapter ‘Walking in the City’.

    Oh, and I haven’t yet managed to get hold of it, but the collection “Space, Time, Play” looks brilliant.

    Also, thanks for the kind words and the first ever comment, Ben!

  4. Thanks for all the reference feedback! I did already use a few of them, but I’m definitely going to check out the ones I missed.

  5. I’ve found your blog through Corvus (thanks!) and will be following it closely. Keep up the great work!

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