Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Knowing Your Place

The second day of CGIE was taken up with a series of lively sessions about "Knowing Your Place: Experiential Spatiality of Games," which was organized by Nicola Bidwell, who works on projects about topography and topology that aren't as far from the topoi of classical rhetoric as one might imagine. Given my talk about how the classical, medieval, and Early Modern "Palace of Memory" was still relevant for understanding spatiality in the digital age, I enjoyed seeing a demo of the Digital Songlines project that looks at how the indigenous people of Australia superimpose knowledge on an ordered landscape in which memory functions with particular associations with particular loci.

There was a lot of controversy about defining "immersion." Furthermore, panelist Ulf Wilhelmsson refused to accept the distinction between third-person and first-person games, given his theory of the function of a "Game Ego" in play. Fellow curmudgeon Andrew Hutchinson questioned whether or not the Wii was really anything more than a mouse with a zed axis and thus offers relatively little spatial experience. I enjoyed his talk about "embodiment gaps," typified by the "where are my legs?" problem in game experience. Georgia Leigh McGregor was probably the best rhetorician of the bunch, with her work on how medieval style architecture can be constructed, interpreted, and experienced very differently in different games.

The day's tropes and oppositions: motion vs. locomotion, nature vs. artifice, perspective vs. mapping, identity vs. subjectivity, and spatiality vs. semiotics.



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