The abstract corresponds to 1. Introduction and problem statement of the expose.
Video games are manifestations of designerly intentions, which is the conscious and planned execution of a design into an output. People of all trades, from code to graphics, thus transform their knowledge and skills into a playable and meaningful experience. But as cultural products, video games communicate much more than these intentioned designs. They also capture unspoken and subconscious assumptions, bias and ideologies, as well as historical contexts.
This is equally true for the visuality of the video game, on which this proposal is concentrating. To analyse this, I will present an approach of critical reading of the transformation of code to images (rewrite this part after Sonia Fizek’s text). Drawing on critical code analysis and design rethorics, I combine methodologies from design research and the digital humanities. Critical readings serve the purpose of unearthing and dissecting power structures and the generation of meaning in and from our cultural artefacts. Such readings open up our research objects to a plethora of interpretations.
The images in video games differ from paintings or photographs. They are not materially fixed in time-space, but again and again computed, reacting on interaction and changes in the game state. If we take a closer look at the image of video games and accept it as an artefact that is calculated and constructed by code and computer hardware, we must conclude that the underlying technology is formative for its discourse and meaning. Respectively, that programmers and graphic designers alike are significantly involved in the circulation and formation of meanings and power relations through the image in video games.
In my approach assume a hitherto invisible rift between the research on the image of the digital game and its material base. The image of digital games brings with its own specificities. The constituted image, visible on the screen, is being born from the hardware’s calculation. It is interactive and as such holds within itself a plurality of different futures, actualizing itself upon the player’s input. Research on the image of digital games more often than not focuses either on the constituted and visible image, or its material basis – either on visuality or technology.
Following my assumption is the thesis that there is an unacknowledged interplay between the techno-historic limits of digital game development and the reception of the image, respectfully, the generation of meaning for the player. Working on this research question demands an interdisciplinary approach that can handle both domains, technology and visuality, halves of a proposed whole. The methods used in this project are lent from digital humanities, design research and video game studies and assembled into an interdisciplinary methodology of critical reading the visuality of digital games.