Ready, Aim, Fire: Legitimizing The Gaming Environment
Free (open access)
The digital gaming industry, perhaps to the chagrin of the architectural community, has become the epitome of modern business success, drawing in remarkable profits while leading a quiet revolution in youth culture. The systems that have become available in the last several years are sophisticated enough to not simply hint at virtual reality, but rather establish a surprisingly convincing world into which the participant is immersed. These effects are so stimulating that individuals engaged in a first-person shooter combat arena respond physically to the digital simulations, ducking and crouching with comical evasiveness to the virtual projectiles being launched at them. Given the spatial realism being achieved, one would expect that the architectural profession, identified with the crafting of space, would readily embrace these technologies, but the opposite seems to be the case. These environments are viewed as distractions with little value beyond entertainment, with minimal significance in the domain of critical space. The on-going research attempts to bridge this theoretical gap between architectural discourses on spatial perception and the fascinations of virtual immersion. The simulations of digital gaming are too profound to be dismissed, offering tremendous potential as critiques of digital culture, as well as exposing the sensitive underbelly of societal norms relative to the digital interface. While in no way attempting to act as an apologist for the gaming industry or its fixation with the grotesque, a critical examination of its spatial character brings to light an array of architectural origins, both theoretical and spatial. To this end, the fundamental tenants of game space finds resonance, or perhaps dissonance, within the most cherished of architectural experiences, and perhaps begins to devalue architectural poetics by collapsing the importance of physical time and space, making spatial simultaneity possible within the virtual seductions of the screen. Keywords: immersive environments, architectural representation, digital critique, labyrinths, Piranesi.
immersive environments, architectural representation, digital critique, labyrinths, Piranesi.