A Failed and Unintelligible Analogy

The Phenomenology of Virtual Space in Kitty Horrorshow’s ANATOMY

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The virtual space of ANATOMY withdraws from players behind a barrier of static and screen glare where it becomes, in a Lacanian psychoanalytic sense, inaccessible to the process of narcissistic incorporation. In a subversive twist of convention, players are marginalized in order to hold space for the expression of digital-material agency, affecting a critical blow to the psychological processes, as digital media scholar Laurie Taylor theorizes, by which “the connection between the player and the player’s position in game space implies a type of identification.” Overtures of analog noise and VHS scan lines that scroll across the player’s first-person perspective articulate an aesthetic commitment to the affirmation of otherness. An unbridgeable distance stretches between us and ANATOMY, and into this distance tumbles that narcissistic fantasy of a video game designed to transport players inside immersive virtual worlds, where alien subjectivities are embodied firsthand and become sympathetically understood. Continue Reading

Greenshifting Game Studies

Arguments for an Ecocritical Approach to Digital Games

Essay - Greenshifting Games

Every time I talk or write about ecology as a tool or merely an inspiration for hermeneutic approaches to cultural artifacts, I feel like I need to start off with a confession: I am no hardcore, dyed-in-the-wool environmentalist. Not only do I have serious doubts about the compatibility of hardcore environmentalism and dyed wool, I find it hard to subscribe to any sort of Ism, doctrine, or universal approach. And still, with all the relativism of the comparatist whose only creed is that there are always two (or more) ways of looking at any matter, I have become deeply fascinated with ecocriticism lately. Ecocriticism, the application of ecological thinking to humanism (and especially literary studies) developed in parallel with game studies, starting in the late 1970s and coming to real scholarly prominence in the mid- to late-1990s. I have been engaged in game studies since the late 1990s, and when I propose here to introduce a Greenshift into our field, it is not a moral, ideological, or philosophical argument I want to make, but merely a practical one: I am confident that the blend of ecological ideals and humanistic hermeneutics developed by ecocriticism holds great promise for game studies. Continue Reading