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

Virtual Bodies in Virtual Worlds

A phenomenology of play in video games

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Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s project in Phenomenology of Perception is to overcome what he calls the classical prejudices (1–93)—mostly, the belief in an objective world—by calling for a return to a proper description of phenomena. This can only be done by putting our unquestioned belief in an objective world aside. This leads to the discovery that the body, as an ambiguous and undetermined being, is our fundamental way of being in the world, and that all consciousness is perceptual. I will use this methodology to undergo a phenomenology of play, and describe the experience of playing a video game. Hopefully this will shed light on experiences of play considered marginal today. Continue Reading