Readings

1) Transit

Transit brought a very interesting idea to the surface; that of the differences in experiencing space through different modes of travel.  The author argues that as technology makes it possible to travel faster and at different elevations (on the ground versus in the air, etc.), our experience of discovering space, particularly that “in-between” space between start in destination, has radically changed.  Further, he argues that the worlds created in video games bring us backwards in time by forcing us to discover these new worlds in the same way we discovered our world before technology.  I agree with this to an extent, and this makes it interesting to reflect on the “technologies” we have created to deal with these video game worlds.  Initially, it is true that gamers had to learn to traverse these new terrains on their own, but eventually tools were developed to help make this job easier.  For almost every big box video game nowadays, you can purchase a strategy guide or find an online walkthrough that lets you understand the game’s world before you discover it for yourself through the use of photographs, videos, or aerial views.  You still have the option to play on your own through complete discovery, but you also have the option to traverse the world more quickly using these tools.  Of course, this is true in real life too; no one is forcing you to drive a car, or take an airplane or a ship – it just make it a lot easier and quicker (or provides a way that never existed before, in the case of traveling over water) to get to another part of the world.  You can still explore places you have never been before by walking without using google maps – this is what hikers do all the time.  The difference between now and before we had technology is that we had no choice but to explore in the ways we did.  Taking all of this into account, I would argue that the worlds of video games don’t bring us back to a past time, but rather mirror the way we look at travel and exploration in the real world: we can choose to explore on our own but we have tools to help make this exploration easier.

2) Game Design As Narrative Architecture and Narrative Environments From DisneyLand to World of Warcraft

I found this idea of Narrative Architecture in games particularly intriguing, especially coming from an architecture background.  In my experience it seems that the definition of architecture varies depending on who you talk to, and as such I have developed my own understanding which, simply put, is the expression of an idea through through spatial experience.  In this way, I think that the environment of a game can definitely influence the understanding of the game.  The first of the two articles describes four possible ways that the environment of a game can be integrated with game play.  I think that these four can be further categorized into two simple characterizations: 1) games where the environment enhances gameplay, and 2) games where the environment is inherit to gameplay.  To me, the latter is the more interesting of the two and it brings me back to an open-ended question I began thinking about when I made the transfer from architecture to BCSA: how can we use virtual environment to create experiences that cannot be created in the built environment?  I think the answer(s) to this question can be explored and tested by creating these type 2 games.

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