The Game Body: Toward a Phenomenology of Contemporary Video Gaming, Timothy Crick

  • Based on a phenomenological notion that film is an ‘‘object–subject’’ that sees and is seen, both a ‘‘viewing subject’’ and a ‘‘visible object’’ for the filmgoer, she (Sobchack) sets up an argument that claims that there is a film presence or ‘‘film subject’’ that experiences a world from a subjective perspective. – ‘‘The scene of the screen: Envisioning cinematic and electronic presence’’
  • contemporary video-games are phenomenologically experienced in way that is as spatio-temporal, embodied, immersive, interpellative, visceral, mobile, and animate as that of the cinematic.
  • a Renaissance perspective represents ‘‘the visible as originating in and organised by an individual, centered subject. The filmgoer therefore experiences film as subjective and intentional’’ (Daniel Frampton)

  • video-game perspectives also implicate some kind of invisible ‘‘game body.’’ That is, the software-simulated mobile camera that follows (or inhabits) a game character in a virtual world serves double duty as the perceptive organ of a ‘‘game body’’ situated within the diegesis
  • third-person video-games – the avatar is usually seen at a distance, viewed from above or behind in a number of different possible perspective angles
  • during many third-person-style gaming experiences, the player is effectively in control of three bodies: the avatar’s body, his or her own body, and visual perspective of a ‘‘game body’’ or ‘‘game subject.’’
  • unlike third-person games, in ‘‘most first-person games, the player operates on the game world, but never within, which allows the world to be constructed from an imagined viewpoint’’ (Laurie Taylor) – it seems like the player is playing as themselves from an imaginary perspective because he or she is not placed into that field by means of a visible avatar.
  • So whereas a film body’s motility does not depend on any action on the part of the spectator, perhaps the main distinction between a film body and a video-game body is that the player’s action is explicit in its motility. In other words, a ‘‘game body’’ may exist by itself, but it does not exist for itself
  • although cinema’s perspective does not share a video-game’s competing ‘‘busy’’ elements (avatars, crosshairs, status bars, control pads, etc), the digital imagery in videogames need not necessarily represent, as Sobchack claims, a diffused, fragmented, and dislocated material existence for the player
  • a game’s virtual world is a space that can be roamed like the physical one and thus is experienced as an inter-enactment as well as an embodiment of vision.
  • Lev Manovich suggests, the video-game image can function as ‘‘a portal into another world … rather than staying on its surface, we expect to go ‘into’ the image. In effect, every computer user becomes Carroll’s Alice’’
  • Similar to filmgoing, video-gaming is a holistic experience and it is precisely our capacity as sensual embodied beings in the world that allows us to engage with a game’s artificial world in a way that would engage those senses in real life.
  • Perhaps, a measure of success in a video-game simulation would be the ease with which a player can cross the border between the real and the virtual.
  • the control device acts as an extension of the player’s body – the fundamental aspect that allows a video-game player agency in a virtual world
  • As Wood argues, ‘‘players with very good skills would not even notice themselves thinking about playing’’ – By becoming accustomed to the movements of the control device—enabling a fluent engagement with the virtual world—the avatar’s (and virtual camera’s) movement is incorporated within my corporeal schema and, as such, becomes an extension of my bodily basis of consciousness

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