Advertisement

Virtual Subjectivities and the Existential Significance of Virtual Worlds

Chapter
  • 143 Downloads

Abstract

Drawing upon the existential philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre and upon work on ‘existential ludology’ in game studies, this chapter introduces the notion of ‘virtual subjectivity’, to refer to the subjective sense of ‘self’ that relates to one’s being-in-the-virtual-world. It articulates a projectual understanding of subjectivity (according to which we strive towards the kind of being we wish to be) and proposes the term ‘virtual project’ for the existential projects we take on in the virtual world. It proposes an understanding of virtual subjectivity as standing in a nested relation to the individual’s subjectivity in the actual world, arguing that this relation allows virtual world experience to gain existential significance. This paves the way for understanding the transformative, self-transformative, and therapeutic possibilities disclosed by virtual worlds.

Keywords

Subjectivity Virtual worlds Sartre Existentialism Projectuality Game studies 

References

  1. Aarseth, E. 2007. “I Fought the Law: Transgressive Play and the Implied Player.” Proceedings of the 2007 DiGRA International Conference on Situated Play. Tokyo (Japan), September 24–28, 2007.Google Scholar
  2. Avalanche Studios. 2010. Just Cause 2 [Sony PlayStation 3]. Digital game directed by Nedfors, M. and published by Eidos Interactive.Google Scholar
  3. Avedon, E. M. & Sutton-Smith, B. 1971. The Study of Games. New York (NY): John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  4. Bayliss, P. 2007a. “Beings-in-the-Gameworld: Characters, Avatars and Players.” Proceedings of the Fourth Australasian Conference on Interactive Entertainment. Melbourne (Australia), December 3–5, 2007.Google Scholar
  5. Bayliss, P. 2007b. “Notes towards a Sense of Embodied Gameplay.” Proceedings of the 2007 DiGRA International Conference on Situated Play. Tokyo (Japan), September 24–28, 2007.Google Scholar
  6. Calleja, G. 2011. In-Game: From Immersion to Incorporation. Cambridge (MA): The MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Camus, A. 1955. The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Stories. New York (NY): Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  8. CD Projekt RED. 2015. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt [Sony PlayStation 4]. Digital game directed by Tomaszkiewicz, K., Kanik, M. and Stępień, S., published by CD Projekt.Google Scholar
  9. Costikyan, G. 2002. “I Have No Words and I Must Design.” Proceedings of the Computer Games and Digital Cultures Conference, ed. Frans Mäyrä, 9–33. Tampere (Finland): Tampere University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Croteam. 2014. The Talos Principle [PlayStation 4]. Digital game directed by Hunski, D.; Ladavac, A.; Tomičić, D., published by Devolver Digital.Google Scholar
  11. Foucault, Michel. 1982. “The Subject and Power.” In Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics. 2nd ed. Dreyfus, H. L. and Rabinow, P. (eds.). Chicago (IL): University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  12. Foucault, M. 1988. Technologies of the Self: A Seminar with Michel Foucault. Martin, L. H., Gutman, H., & Hutton P. H. (eds.). London (UK): Tavistock Publications.Google Scholar
  13. Foucault, M. 2007 [1997]. “What is Critique?” In Hochroth, L. (trans.). The Politics of Truth. Los Angeles (CA): Semiotext(e), 41–81.Google Scholar
  14. Gadamer, H. G. 1989 [1960]. Truth and Method. London (UK): Sheed & Ward.Google Scholar
  15. Galloway, A. R. 2006. “Warcraft and Utopia”. In Ctheory, 2 (16).Google Scholar
  16. Gee, J. P. 2008 “Video Games and Embodiment.” In Games and Culture, 3, 253–263.Google Scholar
  17. Gregersen, A. & Grodal, T. 2009. “Embodiment and Interface.” In The Video Game Theory Reader 2, ed. Bernard Perron and Mark J. P. Wolf, 65–82. London (UK): Routledge.Google Scholar
  18. Grodal, T. 2003. “Stories for Eye, Ear and Muscles: Video Games, Media, and Embodied Experiences.” In Wolf, M. J. P. & Perron, B. (eds.). The Video Game Theory Reader. London (UK): Routledge, 129–155.Google Scholar
  19. Grosz, E. 2001. Architecture from the Outside: Essays on Real and Virtual Space. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  20. Gualeni, S. 2014. “Freer Than We Think: Game Design as a Liberation Practice.” Proceedings of the 2014 Philosophy of Computer Games Conference. Istanbul (Turkey), November 13–16, 2014.Google Scholar
  21. Gualeni, S. 2015. Virtual Worlds as Philosophical Tools. Basingstoke (UK): Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gualeni, S. 2016. “Self-reflexive videogames: observations and corollaries on virtual worlds as philosophical artifacts.” G|A|M|E - The Italian Journal of Game Studies, 1 (5).Google Scholar
  23. Gualeni, S.; Dini, D.; Gomez Maureira, M. 2013. Necessary Evil [Windows]. Digital game developed by Gualeni, S.; Dini, D.; Gomez Maureira, M. Available online at: http://evil.gua-le-ni.com
  24. Heidegger, M. 1962 [1927]. Being and Time, trans. John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson. San Francisco (CA): Harper & Row Publishers Inc.Google Scholar
  25. Heidegger, M. 2008. Basic Writings. New York (NY): Harper Perennial – Modern Thought.Google Scholar
  26. Juul, J. 2005. Half-Real: Video Games between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds. Cambridge (MA): The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  27. Kania, M. M. 2017. Perspectives of the Avatar: Sketching the Existential Aesthetics of Digital Games. Wroclaw (Poland): University of Lower Silesia Press.Google Scholar
  28. Keogh, B. 2018. A Play of Bodies. Cambridge (MA): MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Key, E. & Kanaga, D. 2013. Proteus [Windows]. Digital game developed by Key E. and Kanaga, D., self-published.Google Scholar
  30. Klevjer, R. 2006. What is the Avatar?: Fiction and Embodiment in Avatar-Based Singleplayer Computer Games. Doctoral dissertation, University of Bergen (Norway).Google Scholar
  31. Klevjer, R. 2012. “Enter the Avatar: The Phenomenology of Prosthetic Telepresence in Computer Games.” In The Philosophy of Computer Games, ed. John Richard Sageng, Hallvard J. Fossheim and Tarjei Mandt Larsen, 17–38. Philosophy of Engineering and Technology 7 (2012). Dordrecht (The Netherlands): Springer.Google Scholar
  32. Leino, O. T. 2009. “Understanding Games as Played: Sketch for a First-Person Perspective for Computer Game Analysis.” Proceedings of the 2009 Philosophy of Computer Games Conference. Oslo (Norway), August 13–15, 2009.Google Scholar
  33. Leino, O. T. 2010. Emotions in Play: On the Constitution of Emotion in Solitary Computer Game Play. Doctoral dissertation, IT University of Copenhagen (Denmark).Google Scholar
  34. Leino, O. T. 2019. “God is a Game Designer – Accelerating ‘Existential Ludology’.” Proceedings of the 2019 DiGRA International Conference. Kyoto (Japan), August 6–10, 2019.Google Scholar
  35. Linden Lab. 2003. Second Life [Windows]. Digital game directed by Rosedale, P., and published by Linden Lab.Google Scholar
  36. Maxis. 1989. Sim City [Windows]. Digital game directed by Wright, W., and published by Maxis.Google Scholar
  37. Nintendo. 2017. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild [Nintendo Switch]. Digital game directed by Fujiyabashi, H., and published by Nintendo.Google Scholar
  38. Nørgård, R. T. 2011. “The Joy of Doing: The Corporeal Connection in Player-Avatar Identity.” Proceedings of the 2011 Philosophy of Computer Games Conference. Athens (Greece), April 6–9, 2011.Google Scholar
  39. Nozick, R. 1974. Anarchy, State, and Utopia. New York (NY): Basic Books, Inc.Google Scholar
  40. Parker, F. 2011. “In the Domain of Optional Rules: Foucault’s Aesthetic Self-Fashioning and Expansive Gameplay.” Proceedings of the 2011 Philosophy of Computer Games Conference. Athens (Greece), April 6–9, 2011.Google Scholar
  41. Payne, M. T. 2008. “Interpreting Gameplay Through Existential Ludology.” In Ferdig, R. E. (ed.) Handbook of Research on Effective Electronic Gaming in Education, 621–635. Hershey (PA): Information Science Reference.Google Scholar
  42. Poster, M. 2013 [2001]. The Information Subject. Oxford (UK): Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. RobotLovesKitty. 2014. Upsilon Circuit [Windows]. Digital game directed by Stolzer, A. and Goble, C. This ephemeral piece of software is no longer accessible.Google Scholar
  44. Sartre, J. P. 1966 [1943]. Being and Nothingness. Trans. Hazel E. Barnes. New York (NY): Washington Square Press.Google Scholar
  45. Silcox, M. 2019. A Defense of Simulated Experience: New Noble Lies. New York (NY): Routledge.Google Scholar
  46. Subset Games. 2018. Into the Breach [Windows]. Digital game directed by Ma, J. and Davis, M., published by Subset Games.Google Scholar
  47. Suits, B. 1990. The Grasshopper: Games, Life and Utopia. Boston (MA): David R. Godine.Google Scholar
  48. Taylor, T. L. 2002. “Living Digitally: Embodiment in Virtual Worlds.” In Ralph Schroeder (ed.), The Social Life of Avatars: Presence and Interaction in Shared Virtual Environments, 40–62. London: Springer-Verlag.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. United States Army. 2013. America’s Army: Proving Grounds [Windows]. Digital game directed by Kuykendall, D., and published by the United States Army.Google Scholar
  50. Van de Mosselaer, N. & Gualeni, S. 2020. “The Implied Designer and the Experience of Gameworlds.” Proceedings of the 2020 DiGRA international Conference. Tampere, Finland. June 2–6, 2020.Google Scholar
  51. Vella, D. 2015. The ludic subject and the ludic self: Investigating the ‘I-in-the Gameworld’. Doctoral dissertation, IT University of Copenhagen (Denmark).Google Scholar
  52. Vella, D. 2016. “‘Who am ‘I’ in the Game?’: A Typology of Modes of Ludic Subjectivity.” Proceedings of the 2016 DiGRA and FDG (joint conference). Dundee (UK), August 1–6, 2016.Google Scholar
  53. Vella, D. & Gualeni, S. 2019. “Virtual Subjectivity: Existence and Projectuality in Virtual Worlds.” In Techne’: Research in Philosophy of Technology, 23 (2).Google Scholar
  54. Westerlaken, M. 2017. “Self-Fashioning in Action: Zelda’s Breath of the Wild Vegan Run.” Proceedings of the 2017 Philosophy of Computer Games Conference. Krakow (Poland), November 28–December 1, 2017.Google Scholar
  55. Wilhelmsson, U. 2008. “Game Ego Presence in Video and Computer Games.” In Extending Experiences, ed. Olli Tapio Leino, Hanna Wirman, and Amyris Fernandez, 58–72. Rovaniemi, (Finland): Lapland University Press.Google Scholar
  56. Wreden, D. 2015. The Beginner’s Guide [PlayStation 4]. Digital game developed by Everything Unlimited Ltd. and published by Everything Unlimited Ltd.Google Scholar
  57. Zhu, F. 2015. “The Implied Player: Between the Structural and the Fragmentary.” Proceedings of the 2015 DiGRA International Conference. Lüneburg (Germany), May 14–17, 2015.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Digital GamesUniversity of MaltaMsidaMalta

Personalised recommendations