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Oct 24, 2004



Other vaguely ludic art news:
http://www.hydropia.org/john/index.htm>John Paul Bichard has a few new works out including http://www.hydropia.org/middle04.htm>The House in the Middle a ” set of photographic prints resulting from an in-game photo shoot that documents a series of constructed disasters”.

Also http://www.rgbproject.com/>RGBproject have SOLIDlandscapes.04, in their own words “ The effort of decoding the last meaning of the videoludic image is also at the base of the last series called Solid Landscapes (2004): a work that raises and at the same time turns upside down the videoludic spaces ........................... Solid landscapes records the particular features of the polygonal landscape, substitute of a reality shaped on the cinema, comics and literature spaces. ”.



This year’s work includes a piece by Langlands & Bell titled The House of Osama Bin Laden. It’s a multimedia piece commissioned by the Trustees of the Imperial War Museum where the artists have recreated one of Osama’s actual residences using the Quake engine.

To me the piece is just the latest in what is becoming a tradition within multimedia art of virtually re-creating a space so that viewers can experience and engage with it and a set of issues in a range of ways.

Fascinating, this cuts across questions I've been wondering about recently:

1.) do MMOGs (and games) over-use 3d space as a presentation / world metaphor?

2.) (related to first) are 3d MMOG spaces more immersive?

3.) what does immersive mean in this context?

My personal suspicion of (1.) is that yes, we are far more than is justified outside of player/historical expectations are asked to present ourselves and manipulate a 3d space to play in an MMOG.

Perhaps this is more "immersive" - after all we live our real lives in a 3d world. However, outside of interface complications (newbies find it difficult to navigate such spaces), when translated into an MMOG experience, what kind of "immersion" is this?

Does immersion mean aesthetic player empathy with the space? If so, what is the nature of this empathy? Does it mean a space that the player can somehow relate (e.g. pleasurably) to in terms of real-world spaces?


But what is the relationship of immersion to fun and engagment? For the point of discussion, might I suggest cryptically that while the two are not unrelated, but they are a lot less related than we may be led to believe.

A story for illumination. I play Eve-Online: a "3d" space-opera MMOG featuring combat and industrial mayhem in the large stillness of outer space.

On the one hand, it is graphically likely one of the most beautiful and aesthetic spaces in the business. What makes it interesting is that it is not a very detailed space (outer space is sparsely populated) - but every view is framed against gorgeous plays of light and color and shimmering hues...

Great stuff, and sometimes (often) I just like to kick back and just soak it in for just what it is - some kind of immersive artwork.

But what is the relationship of this with the game play? Likely very little (I assert). In point of fact, in combat, I find comprehension and manipulation of the 3d context to be bothersome: more work than seems justified. Sure, after a while one becomes good at it - but in some sense, one is gaming the interface to insure timely information and decisions.

Now, it should be pointed out that Eve does not try to restrict players a "first person" experience. I used to play Flight Sims and really enjoyed 'em for what they were trying to do - capture that messiness of situational awareness and 3d combat in the real world and project that into a game...

In Eve's case (at least my use of it), the 3d space allows one to experience countless beautful scenes. It is beguiling, and I know of a person who recently quit the game but said they hung around much longer than they might have, because they were loath to give up this aesthetic.

So the immersive might qualify player's perception of the game world, e.g. for the better. But that is not the same thing as saying the game world is a construct best served via a "3d" world interface. Can immersion get in the way of fun?

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