28th Feb 2023 - Dissertation and Project Contemplation

As a preparation for a first dissertation meeting with my supervisor, I note my expectations, thoughts and questions here.


My expectations towards the research project

How can my supervisor support me?

Direction of my dissertation

Within the research group I’m part of, I hold two positions:

  1. PhD student with an independent dissertation
  2. PhD researcher on History of Visual Design of Early Swiss Video Games, defined as such

The aim of this dissertation project is a historiography of graphic design in the games developed in Switzerland during the observed period. By focusing on the visual rhetoric and the iconography of the games, (trans)national historical continuities and transmedial influences are to be elaborated on the one hand. The aim is to create a critical catalogue of visual design that enables us to recognize connections and discrepancies. But the aim is also to work out the creative means that determine design. The loading screen of the text adventure game Züri (1992), for example, is oriented quite closely to the motif of the tourist city panorama, while the construction game Traders (1991) uses a comic style that is rather unusual for the genre. To what extent can local influences be identified in the graphic style, interface but also in the packaging and advertising in computer journals?

The goals for the researching position would be:

  1. A database will be created with images from the game but also from the paratexts (box, advertisement, etc).
  2. These images will then be analyzed with the tools of Rhetorical Design Analysis and compared to other dominant graphical sources in Swiss popular culture.

My own position as a PhD student is somewhere at the intersection of

I have the feeling, as of right now, that this intersection is huge and I’m not very sure, where exactly I want to stand. That said, I know that I don’t want to solely make a rhetoric analysis of the image material. My background as a software developer is too valuable in the light of the particularities of the image in video games. Given the state of literature I could observe by now as well as that video games as cultural heritage is a rather young approach, I’d say that emulation, virtualization and preservation are things I want to have a good look at. Although I don’t know, how to get from there to the image of video games.

Do I need to consider having my dissertation about something completely else? As in, purely speculative, the non-human representation in video games?

Questions and thoughts