Game space topology revisited: A review of labyrinthine terminology

Bakkerud Frederik
2022 DiGRA ’22 – Proceedings of the 2022 DiGRA International Conference: Bringing Worlds Together

This paper addresses the concept of game space topology – the arrangement of space in games – with regard to the established literature’s dependence on spatial metaphors such as labyrinths or mazes. I argue that despite their prevalence in humanistic game studies, these metaphors widely conflate space topologies with aspects of representation, perspective, teleology, and sequentiality. One can rarely tell what specific aspects of the game are addressed by research on this subject. Indeed, labyrinths are ambiguous and highly connotative words, and as such they are unproductive for the classification of game space topology. This paper intends to facilitate more rigorous research on the subject, starting by building on clearly delineated elements of the game world.


Final Fantasy VII Remake: In Search of Queer Celebration

Heijmen Nicky Vosmeer Mirjam
2022 DiGRA ’22 – Proceedings of the 2022 DiGRA International Conference: Bringing Worlds Together

Inspired by the notion that online sources had declared Final Fantasy VII Remake as a celebration of queerness, this study analyzes the ways in which the game has been adjusted. After an exploration of the concepts of queergaming and queer representation, the promotion of homophobia and heteronormativity that was abundant in the original FFVII is discussed. An in-depth description of main character Cloud Strife is provided in which his androgynous masculinity is viewed from the perspective of specific Japanese aesthetic traits. By focusing on two scenes that have their roots in the 1997 original - and were rewritten for the remake - the representation of (non-)heteronormative identities, desires, and practices is analyzed. It is concluded that although the term ‘queer celebration’ may be exaggerated, by drastically removing FFVII’s efforts to degenerate any form of homoeroticism, at least the most prominent of disadvantageous social dimensions in the game have been considered.


Towards a Language for Artistic Realism

Weichelt Sebastian
2020 DiGRA ’20 – Proceedings of the 2020 DiGRA International Conference: Play Everywhere

Realism has been a very vague and broad concept and term regarding videogames. While many related concepts are often subject of study, like representation, presence, historical accuracy, or immersion, there still is no language that can be used to talk about realism in a productive and precise manner. However, the term and concept have been discussed and analyzed in art theory and some language exists in that field. This paper reviews perspectives on realism in art theory and analyzes their applicability to videogames. The result is a concept of counterfeit realism, the quality of how well an artwork resists inquiry of its properties. The artwork can be said to be realistic to the degree to which the inquiry is unable to detect the artwork as a representation.


“Who thinks beating a child is entertainment?”: Ideological Constructions of the Figure of ‘The Child’ in Detroit: Become Human

Reay Emma
2020 DiGRA ’20 – Proceedings of the 2020 DiGRA International Conference: Play Everywhere

This article draws on sociological and anthropological theories relating to cultural constructions of the figure of ‘the child’ to determine whether Detroit: Become Human by Quantic Dream affirms or subverts ideological beliefs about children. It argues that much of the backlash Quantic Dream experienced following the premiere of the game’s trailer, which featured a scene of child abuse, can be understood part of a broader moral performance that relies on the sanctity of ‘the child’ to function as a touchstone for the modern Western society. It concludes that far from challenging dominant narratives about the moral value of ‘the child’, Detroit: Become Human replicates a conservative, reactionary, paternalistic view of children’s position within society.


Flow It, Show It, Play It: Hair in Digital Games

Ivănescu Andra
2020 DiGRA ’20 – Proceedings of the 2020 DiGRA International Conference: Play Everywhere

This paper proposes digital hair as a lens through which to explore a number of issues surrounding culture and representation in videogames. While the difficulty of creating hair which looks and moves in a photorealistic manner is notorious in both animation and digital games, the effortless ability to create hair which carries with it social and cultural meaning has not been examined with the same fine-tooth comb. Sociologists and anthropologists from Sir Edmund Leach to Emma Dabiri emphasise how hair can carry a multitude of social, cultural and political meanings, and this paper argues that many of these are carried over into digital worlds. These meanings are examined here in terms of the colour, length, and texture of digital game characters’ hair in relation to culture, gender, and race, providing further avenues for the exploration of representation in digital games.


Polygonal Modeling: The Aestheticization of Identity

Kerich Chris
2019 DiGRA '19 - Proceedings of the 2019 DiGRA International Conference: Game, Play and the Emerging Ludo-Mix

Starting from the assumption that the skin is a complex organ that carries with it a depth and cultural history that cannot be easily understood, it follows that one must also come to reckon with the technologies that are used to represent skin in digital formats. By far, the dominant computational paradigm for representing 3D objects of any kind is “polygonal modeling”, a system which represents 3D objects as the combination of two things: a mesh and a texture, also known as a “skin”. You can also read articles which may contain 3d rendering meaning to deepen your knowledge about 3D. This seemingly innocuous technological paradigm carries with it important ideological, political messages about identity and visual representation. I approach the analysis of these messages in three ways. First, I briefly examine the history of computer graphics, and polygonal modeling in particular, to show how the engineering values of efficiency and functionality ultimately drove and determined the development of polygonal modeling, and emphasize the cultural and critical reflection absent from that development. Next, I examine cultural practices surrounding 3D models in video games, specifically players skinning characters and the economy of skins, to show how the affordances of polygonal modeling as a paradigm lend themselves to the aestheticization and commodification of identity in digital spheres, advancing a neoliberal ideology that holds identity as an aesthetic commodity to be bought and sold. While it’s unlikely that this technology will radically transform in the near future, it’s important to identify, and reflect on, the assumptions that underlie it and the ideological effects it has. In doing so one can start to imagine new ways of interacting with it, or even start to imagine new technologies with new paradigms that govern them.


Romance Never Changes…Or Does It?: Fallout, Queerness, and Mods

Howard Kenton Taylor
2019 DiGRA '19 - Proceedings of the 2019 DiGRA International Conference: Game, Play and the Emerging Ludo-Mix

Romance options are common in mainstream games, but since games have been criticized for their heteronormativity, such options are worth examining for their contribution to problematic elements within gaming culture. The Fallout series suffers from many of these issues; however, recent games in the can be modded, offering fans a way to address these problems. In this paper, I examine heteronormative elements of the Fallout series’ portrayal of queerness to demonstrate how these issues impacted the series over time. I also look more specifically at heteronormative mechanics and visuals from Fallout 4, the most recent single-player game in the series. Finally, I discuss three fan-created mods for Fallout 4 that represent diverse approaches to adding queer elements to the game. I argue that one effective response to problematic portrayals of queerness in games is providing modding tools to the fans so that they can address issues in the games directly.