Working Title:
(Better) Worlds: Pervasive Games, the Expanded Chronotope and the Aesthetics of Dislocation

Performance, public art, new media art, game art
Pervasive games, game studies, game design
Chronotope, aesthetics of dislocation

“With a game, the artist creates not the experience itself but the conditions and rules under which the audience will create its own individualized experience. The demand on the artist is greater, for s/he must plan the experience indirectly, taking into account the probable and possible actions and reactions of the audience. The return is far greater, for participation increases attention and heightens the intensity of the experience.”
(Chris Crawford, The Art of Game Design, 1986)

“How do we deliver artistic expression through our games?”
(Jason Rohrer, “The Game Design of Art”, June 24, 2008)

Digital culture is an area of intense interdisciplinary activity today (processes, activities, communication). Our everyday life is “technologically textured”, in the form of computers, PDAs, mobile technology and wireless networks (+ ATM machines, GPS, …). Clearly this is an area that is inherently multidisciplinary as it involves so many different academic disciplines, industries and competencies.

The aim is to develop a thesis in the crossing areas of game studies (understood as analysis of game elements, narratives, mechanics, representation, symbolic systems, etc. and parts of gaming culture as a cultural product with a certain language, etc.) and game design (understood as concepts, tools and techniques involved with actually making a game) with the areas of performance studies and public art.

The thesis should examine a set of broadly defined artistic practices based on public human interactions and center itself specifically around pervasive games. Especially for a set of practices that is so diverse and constantly evolving, the problem of “naming” will arise. It will be important to contextualize pervasive games in a broader context of art practices, namely performance and public art. The kinds of practices the thesis will address are (perhaps) not as formally specific or as deeply grounded in art-historical traditions as sculpture or painting, even in an already expanded field of understanding. It will be important to also present an awareness of new media technology-based artistic practices. Since these type of events, interventions, and interactions are by nature temporal and usually not object-based, and are often recounted by those who experienced them more in terms of language than in images, approaches to authorship and engagement with community should appear. However, in many cases, there is also recourse to the technology used to complete an analysis.

Chronotopicity (Bakhtin) is adopted into the analysis of pervasive game events in order to view player participation in the game as a dynamic process constituted through the interaction of past experience, ongoing involvement, and yet-to-be-accomplished goals. Theoretical implications of dislocation are brought as referential content (the dislocation of travel, of migration and exile, of urbanization, …) and as formal content (audio/visual montage, translation practice, and photographic manipulation, …) to articulate the disruptive nature of negotiating pervasive game dynamics and ordinary life.

The thesis research should advance a design framework for implementing an aesthetic concerned gameplay / artistic expression in pervasive games (working beyond the entertainment-focused mainstream, the game´s design should actually integrate the gameplay into the logic of the subject the game wishes to investigate).

(Some) Bibliography

Chris Crawford, The Art of Computer Game Design (avilable online).

Jason Rohrer, “The Game Design of Art”, June 24, 2008. []

MAT LeBLANC, “MDA: a formal approach to game design”.

Markus Montola, Jaakko Stenros, Annika Waern. Pervasive Games: Theory and Design (Morgan Kaufmann Game Design Books).

Ian Bogost, Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames.

Mary Flanagan, Critical Play: Radical Game Design.

Brian Schrank, Play Beyond Flow: A Theory of Avant?garde Videogames, PhD Thesis.

Jenova Chen, Flow in Games, MFA Thesis.

Jane McGonigal, PhD Thesis and other texts,

IPerG Project.