Eccentric Gameplay: Simulating the Digital Any-Space-Whatever

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

Our paper will address issues related to aesthetic gaming and the way in which concepts of the literary are being reconfigured in a new genre of videogames that we have termed eccentric games. Using games such as Achron (forthcoming 2010), Braid (2008), Cursor*10 (2008), Echochrome (2008), levelHead (2008), Game-Space (2008-09), and Portal (2007), we suggest this genre can be characterized by game mechanics which manipulate space and time in such a way that the player must access a logic indigenous to digital environments. Eccentric games can be further described through their reliance on filmic interface as an apparatus for modeling eccentricity, tutorialized presentations of gameplay, and its common classification within the overextended "puzzle" genre.

Our analysis of eccentric space games borrows heavily from Mark Hansen's reading of Gille Deleuze's cinematic any-space-whatever. We map his concept of the "digital ASW" on to digital eccentric space. Using Robert Lazzarini's skulls (2000) as a metonymy for speaking about the ontological status of new media in general, Hansen emphasizes how the spatial regime of skulls is an impossible space for any human subjectivity to inhabit. While a work like skulls emphasizes the failure of the viewer to grasp these forever skewed and uncanny objects, the eccentric games cited in this paper engineer the reverse response by attempting to make safe the digital ASW and to provide the fantasy of mastery through the successful completion of goal-oriented tasks. The "alien topology of the computer" is no longer figured as the cryptic skull viewed out of the corner of the eye, but rather embodied in these technological prosthetics designed to augment our consciousness. We will problematize this fantasy of mastery over eccentric space and the way in which these objects attempt to colonize a new home in what was once uncanny borderland.

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Audun Andreassen