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Corné du Plessis

In A Thousand Plateaus, among other texts, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari advance the value of producing a ‘body without organs’ which can offer a domain in which deterritorialisation of existing concepts can occur. Accordingly, the latter process can potentially lead to the formation of new experiences, which open up new possibilities for thought, by differing from those of tradition, insofar as they are active and creative instead of merely descriptive or representational. In this regard, Deleuze valorises certain experimental aesthetic products – such as the paintings of Francis Bacon – for their capacity to impel us toward new thought. Although experimental video gaming often employs comparably innovative features, it is potential to approximate a ‘body without organs’ has seldom been investigated. In the interest of addressing this deficit, this chapter will explore the extent to which certain experimental video games may operate as deterritorialising works of art that break free of the tropes of representational art, and pursue new ‘lines of flight’ toward spaces of radical creative alterity. Increpare’s Slave of God will be focused upon as a ‘body without organs’ that affects players at multiple levels, not only by rending old assemblages in relation to video games, but also through problematising the familiarity of a dance club, via an interrogation of the associated concept of shared or universal experience. This will be done with a view to appraising the potential of such experimental video games to provide a space for creative and complexity thinking, thereby affecting life itself.

Peter Wonica

Video games allow people to assume identities through avatars, reducing the cognitive and environmental difficulties present in identity development. They also shape our perceptions of self and our sense of identity. The concept of self-identity is important in the education as it affects how students view frustration and difficulty in pursuit of complex tasks. Video games could serve as tools to enhance or repair an adolescent’s self-identity through safe exploration, improving academic and/or emotional growth. Through interactions with an avatar, an adolescent can explore and develop their understanding of ideal behaviours. The avatar itself presents a unique topic in the development of serious games and identity. Current theories in pedagogy and identity, as well as research into the human-avatar relationship can better guide the development of avatars in serious games. The avatar can thus become an idealised self that an adolescent can project idealised characteristics onto in the process of creating a conversation between one’s real life self and one’s ideal self. Traditionally, self-identity is built through educational interventions and planned programmes, but it could be possible for technology to offer new benefits in making these programs more efficient and effective in teaching a new generation of digital natives.

Justina Gröber

Place is often seen as central to creativity. In adventure-, mystery- or science fiction novels locations often present conundrums, from which storylines develop. Seeing video games as a privileged field of hybrid spaces that blend together mental, physical and virtual worlds, the main goal of this chapter is to show, how experiences of space emerge from videogame’s interactions with Game situations. Although fictional by content, as mental spaces, adventure games engage through the metaphysical immensity of their settings that escape a player’s actual reality. Video games have recently had a rapid uptake amongst adolescents and have diversified into an array of specific genres that are now a convenient commodity forming a definite part of young people’s daily lives. Linking media space with geographical space, video games have the power to challenge conventional concepts of space, reinventing the role and meaning of location with respect to social interactions and digital networks. I shall apply Michael Foucault’s concept of heterotopic space to reinterpret the meaning of locality in adventure games as re-embodiment of a long lost continuous space. Foucault explains heterotopias as real sites that simultaneously represent, contradict and invert reality. Such threshold situations portray adolescence as well as the contemporary condition of inhabiting a fractured and disembodied world that weaves together experiences of media- social- and geographical sites.

Ben Hudson

Videogames can be comedies that are amusing as a result of artistic choice, but they can also be seen as artifacts: objects (or virtual objects) that have their own intrinsic man-made qualities that are often unintentionally funny or can be exploited for comic value. Players experience videogames by interacting with an imperfect simulation – virtual worlds pre-defined by rules and boundaries that govern the player’s ability to express their ideas and individuality. The virtual environment is therefore immersive, yet incongruous with the experience of reality. This chapter will examine this incongruity as a potential source of humour. By embodying avatars and inhabiting virtual realities, it will be suggested that individuals must confront what Bergson terms a ‘mechanical inelasticity... where one would expect to find the wide-awake adaptability and the living pliableness of a human being.’ This chapter will look at examples of online gaming culture, from shooters such as Valve’s Counter-Strike (2000) to experimental modifications such as Dean Hall’s Arma 2 ‘mod’ DayZ (2012), where communities of players have found comic ways to utilise artificially limited ranges of expression and draw on the game world as a shared reference-point for humour. Fan-made internet memes and ‘Machinima’ proliferate videogame-based humour, lampooning videogame tropes and logic for an audience familiar with their subjects, but discussion will also include the impact of videogame slapstick in popular culture, looking at the work of comedians such as Dara O’Briain and Seann Walsh who have recently parodied videogame content in their acts. Lastly, with reference to the practice as research presentation Ben Hudson, Live in Virtual Reality (2009), a Stand-up Comedy performance hosted in Sony’s online social network PlayStation Home, this chapter will examine the potential for virtual spaces to act as venues for comedy performance.

Tero Pasanen

The present chapter examines the first politically motivated computer game controversy in Finland, stirred by the release of Raid over Moscow and its subsequent review published in MikroBitti magazine in February 1985. The game’s open anti-Sovietism and certain utterances used in the review trespassed on the most notable taboo in the Cold War era Finland, and thus the case quickly gained both interest and notoriety in the Finnish media. The events took a political turn when a communist MP proposed a written parliamentary question concerning the distribution of the game. The USSR responded with an entreaty that demanded the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA) to restrict the marketing and sales of the game. The Soviet officials considered Raid over Moscow as war propaganda that advocated a space war against the USSR, whereas the review was perceived as an intentional provocation against the Finno-Soviet relations. The MFA conducted an enquiry about possible restrictions, but outdated legislation concerning digital games prevented the ban. The USSR objected the result of their entreaty and responded with a political protest concerning recurrent anti-Soviet expressions published in the Finnish media.

Edited by Tania Honey

Edited by Sue Gregory, Paul Jerry and Nancy Tavares Jones

Michael Andreen

The roots of mythology lie in the formation of human understanding. We take our fears, our hopes, our losses and our victories and exalt them, weaving them into the tales we pass down through the generations. The final, structured set of these tales for a given culture makes up that culture’s mythology, and as we look back on any given mythos, we gain a new understanding of its values and principles. As we learn more of these stories, we often take them and update or borrow from them in a manner relevant to our current society. We can see this in a variety of modern media, ranging from reinvigorated Norse gods in Marvel comics to Hollywood blockbusters such as Troy or Beowulf. These stories ring true to use despite their age, and we seek them out time and time again to be drawn deeper into worlds steeped in millennia of storytelling. This chapter will examine the incorporation of mythology and lore into the narrative structure of Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMOs), and how the depth of lore contributes to the player experience. Specifically, the chapter will investigate developer lore building and player-drive lore participation as they pertain to the classical formation of human mythology. It will further seek to understand the role of lore in the successful launch and sustainability of MMOs by looking at several high-profile games with varying levels of depth and public exposure.

Steven Billingslea II

Prejudice in videogames can be an uncomfortable subject to deal with. The idea that such a detestable issue could taint not just the game, but also the medium itself, makes some gamers very uneasy. With today’s current outlook on prejudice in America, some gamers prefer to ignore accusations of racism and stereotypical characters in games, telling critics that ‘it’s just a game’ and that they are ‘reading too much into it.’ The view that prejudice in videogames is fake because it does not target real people can cause gamers to believe that representations of cultures steeped in negative stereotypes is just a part of their world and that others would just have to learn to ‘deal with it’ or decide to quit playing. While I believe this approach is harmful, it is not surprising to see a blind eye turned to the subject. Dealing with such an issue would mean taking a look at the cause, and in effect, possibly changing the way videogames and the characters within are developed. This chapter aims to look at where prejudice in videogames, most notably games centered on war, crime and battle, and character design comes from, why it is such an issue, what type of effects it has on players, and what possible solutions there may be to resolve the issue.

Benjamin Čulig, Marko Katavić, Jasenka Kuček and Antonia Matković

Throughout history, the game phenomenon has been observed by scholars of various profiles. Today, the research focus is increasingly narrowing down from classic concepts of game and play to the relatively recent global phenomenon of video games. Numerous studies have pointed to a multitude of different conceptions of gaming and video games; therefore, one gets the impression that it is difficult to unambiguously define this seemingly understandable phenomenon. Following the phenomenological tradition and adopting the idea that each definition arises from subjective experience, we decided to conduct qualitative research with the aim of identifying the elements of video games that are universal and essential. For this purpose, we conducted focus groups and interviews on a maximum variation convenience sample of gamers. Focus group transcripts were coded using the open coding method and analysed as a whole, and the results were used to draft questions for semi-structured interviews. In the first stage, the interview transcripts were analysed using the in-vivo coding procedure, attempting to accurately record the original meanings ascribed to the phenomenon by gamers. At this level of generality, participants cited that by entering into the virtual world, they became absent from the real world as well as that they saw gaming as a hobby, means of relaxation and entertainment and a training ground for competition against each other and against themselves. In the second stage of the analysis the data underwent open coding procedure, which resulted in three major aspects of the video game definition: video game as a richly developed world, video game as a rule-bounded set of tasks or puzzles, and video game as a means of social interaction. Due to specificity of this type of research, the findings cannot be generalised on a larger scale, but can serve as a theoretical basis for future quantitative research.