Writing. Design. Social Change.

Posts tagged ‘Video game’

 Dan Harries. The New Media Book. London: BFI Pub., 2002.

In the preface to The New Media Book, the term new media is questioned. The author determines that it has become an effective catchword both as a description of the digital delivery of media via the internet, DVD and digital television and as a reference to the ‘newness’ such technologies have brought to media more generally. But what makes new media ‘new’? Is it the ways in which we interact with media? Is it the new convergences (and bundling) of media technologies? Or is it the increasing interdependence (and overlap) of various media products? In short, the answer it that the ‘newness’ of new media can be attributed to all of these factors.

In the essay “The New Intertextual Commodity” by P. David Marshall, references the new ‘play aesthetic’ in regard to video games. However this ‘play aesthetic’ is never really defined—but I infer that it has something to do with entertainment and the centrality of play in today’s video game market. It also has to do with interactivity with cultural forms. The authors are using aesthetic for something like ethos or philosophy or culture. The new play ethos. The new play philosophy. The new play culture. Here aesthetic aspects of play do not figure in the discussion. (Pages 78, 80). What are they? The author doesn’t address this. I find this ludicrous.

In “The Impact of Digital Technologies on Film Aesthetics,” Michael Allen looks at the effects of the digital on previous media technologies, such as celluloid film in order to “examine the ways in which digitally produced images have changed the formal parameters of the modern film text.” [It seems to me that something I can work toward is an examination of the ways in which new media has changed the formal parameters of engagement with texts—and part of this is a revisioning of the aesthetic]. Halfway through the essay Allen mentions aesthetics for the first and only time. He theorizes that narrative (in a new media context) has three functions: the aesthetic, the ideological and the cognitive. He states:

Aesthetically, the function of the narrative is to arouse emotion or give pleasure; to create a simulacrum of the world or preserve one’s experience in the face of death. The key question is which stories arouse the greatest range and depth of response (121).

Where does this theory come from? What is its basis? How can it be applied? 

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Ron Burnett. How Images Think. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2004.

The interaction of images with human imagination, human communication, and human culture influences behavior so profoundly that the metaphor of ‘thinking images’ might not be too far off.  Burnett employs Latour and a host of others to argue that images have agency within the hybrid space of digital environments (a third space which is neither total reality nor total fantasy). Burnett argues that brain scans, the Internet, Virtual Reality, robotics, and computer games all use digital images which interact with individuals and cultures in ways that can potentially change the actors. As Burnett claims: “It is not so much the case that images per se are thinking as it is the case that intelligence is no longer solely the domain of sentient beings.” Burnett raises the question that  viewers play a part in the creation of the images through the choices they are offered — yet who has the agency here? It’s not entirely the user, but it’s not entirely the technology either.

There are tensions among gamers and creators, and an increasing desire among users to control more fully every aspect of the games they play. An entire subculture has arisen devoted to transforming the look and feel of computer games through “hacking” and “patching” in order to overcome the organization of the game as well as the coding (Burnett 186). Burnett questions the aesthetic choices made about the interfaces that both separate and invite users into digital worlds. “When players talk about the look of a program, in this case a game, what are they talking about? It would be useful to develop some taxonomies of the “look” of digital games as well as digital environments (Burnett 189).  By the way, who has done good research on video games and aesthetics? 

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