Videogames and Alternative Worlds

Flusser‘s late – 1991 — essay “Digitaler Schein” (“Digital Semblance“) in Medienkultur (Media Culture) examines what he calls “alternative worlds,” specifically those that have just begun to appear on computer screens at the time he was writing.  I think any of us now would readily associate the idea of alternative worlds with videogames, constructed “realities,” that designate time and space and provide one or more “subject positions” for players.  But of course books and films have also been constructing alternative worlds for a very long time.

Given the range of games Rob Gallagher discusses in his book Videogames, Identity and Digital Subjectivity (Routledge, 2018), the term “videogames” will serve my purposes nicely.  I’ve been looking for a term for computer-facilitated worlds (something I know absolutely nothing about, but suspect is really important!), one that signals a specifically technical difference from “games” per se, but broad in terms of scale or type of interactivity, (e.g. single-player, MMORPG, etc.).  I somehow thought “video” would exclude, say, really sketchy animation. But I’m convinced now that it doesn’t. Videogames. 

These games seem to be where people consider, assert, enhance their relationships to the Apparat…actively or passively. There’s seems to be very little in the book about coding authorities, which I take to be the designers.

Author: Nancy Roth