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Directory.Linking 2: /The Immersive State of Reality[Game]Play

Mez Breeze

[Cartesianscape Lusting]

#Acronym Unpack: First Person Shooters
#Primarily 1(st)P(erson)P(erspective) Gameplay
#F(ull)M(otion)V(ideo) Inserts
#C(orporeality)E(mulation)L(oading): High

1st person shoot-em-ups are pc/console-based games that evoke individualised player adrenaline spiking through a type of hierarchical reward-or-punish [kill-or-be-killed] system. Their design promotes pre-set directional interaction that provokes biological reactions based on fight-or-flight signallings. Most FPS gameplay begins with cardboard [pre-formulated] characterisation/narrative induction [via FMV inserts or limited avatar construction]. Character construction seem more about reflecting the competition edge induced via the gameplay template [ie Quake, Doom, HalfLife] than offering a a way of [albeit subtly] modifying the game trajectory as do many Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games or Real Time Strategy games.

The majority of FPS game-engineers present as being mired in a “more realism” desire loop – that is, that they deliberately construct games that closely as possible mimic a 3D Cartesianscape. The lure of the geophysical has lead hard-core FPS gamers to don Virtual Reality equipment such as Headsets or attempt a CAVE immersion; more contemporary conceptions centre around hardware shifts that make the game engines [and engineers] focused on accelerating game performance through software + hardware interplays. One FPS game component that illustrates this shift is High Dynamic Range or High Dynamic Range Rendering. The currently employed Dynamic Range is a ratio-based format that fails to account for uber-range values that effect the overall sense of realistic [ie 3D] game rendering. HDR tech attempts to mimic a 3Dimension reality perspective that accounts for light variants [ie when you move from an outside environment into an inside one and experience the phenomenon of light blindness]. This is just one instance where game engineers are displaying traces of _HyperDeveloper Mode: ON_ rather than striving to emphasise a radicalisation of time/space that doesn’t necessarily adhere to these strict 3D emulation strategies, such as playing and pushing through/exploding to [and potentially beyond] an n-dimensional perspective.

F.E.A.R is a game heavily drenched in de rigueur 1st person shooter elements, displaying blatant military/operational rhetoric in terms of game narrative, characterisation, pacing + direction. These elements act to personalise the “narrative engine” through the display of trauma expectation reactions/indicators as the gameplay unfolds, such as rapid + shallow breathing, repeated swearing, deformation of timescapes through the adoption of the slo-mo matrix-popularised perspective shifting/Japanese_horror stylistic riffing/adrenaline simulated timelapsings. Ironically, this too is a type of hyper-realistic mimicking – the architectural gameplay responses that interlace disruptive narrative components [eg game story blips such as static displaying on character’s headset] act to enhance the interactive “playthrough” aspects [gamer responses designed to move the game forward].

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#Acronym Unpack: M(assive)_or_M(assively)M(ultiplayer)O(nline) Games
#Primary Character Construction based on Avatar_Creation
#3(rd)P(erson)P(erspective) Gameplay with Potential to Toggle 1PP]
#C(orporeality)E(mulation)L(oading): Moderate [Projected]

Massive (or massively) multiplayer online role-playing games such as Ultima Online and Everquest echo Dungeon + Dragon game-templates. They are a specific version of Massive Multiplayer Online games such as The Matrix Online or World of Warcraft. Most MMORPGs traditionally follow a self-moderated or group[“clan”]-based goal oriented structure [“levelling”] with character construction, role-playing agendas and online character actions heavily influencing the narrative game components. The use of pre-set fantasy or sci-fi characterisations assists player synergism via collusive goal-setting through puzzles or quests embedded into the story-framework.

MMORPGs primarily adhere to a hierarchical game direction. These designated game-pathways [players may perceive them as manifest realities] are defined according to predicated structures, or via the intentions of the actual players [or self-generating gamer communities] as the game is let out of the pre-set corporate parameter-bag. Game trajectories can be altered or influenced via modifications of elements designed to enhance/further extend gameplay. Several of these can be used as techniques to truncate accepted game conventions, and hence, offer a non-intended gamepath that reflects a more curious/responsive player orientation. A game[r] response that illustrates how the trajectory of intentional game-play alteration can manifest is in Everquest:

Everquest gamers have previously used/abused certain game factors constructed to enhance in-game aspects via a beneficial manipulation of levelling [ie progress rapidly in the goal-orientated/hierarchical structure of the game itself]. One spell in particular was initially co-opted to redefine the game pattern from its hero-mandated quest-seeking directive towards a hyper-acceleration of this levelling objective. The spell was titled Clarity [or “crack” in game slang] and its demand resulted in those in the 1st Everquest loop, and those advocates of competing MMORPGs, christening the game EverCrack.

This example of players realigning pre-set MMORPG constraints/constructs in line with their own objectives, irrespective of intentional gameplay contingencies, illustrates a type of morphing beyond the constructed game reality. This, as well as the injection of synthetic MMORG economies into the geophysical sphere + “easter egging” shows levels of enhanced game contact [with]in “rl” [real life]. This too, like the hyperaccelerated push for 3D mimicking in FPS, displays a concrete pull towards physical reality as the ultimate reality layer, irrespective of the underlying game push-potentials.

[Active Narrative Gathering, anyone?]

#Acronym Unpack: Alternative Reality Games
#Game architecture based on Active Narrative Gathering:
# + Data Search Capabilities
# + Information/Puzzle Solving
# + Players ability to Media Trawl
#Primarily I(nformation)G(athering)P(erspective) gameplay
#C(orporeality)E(mulation)L(oading): Low

Alternate Reality Gaming involves players responding/reacting to story cues projected through media not regularly associated with game construction, such as movies, websites, physical engagements and chat technologies [eg I Love Bees]. ARGs are constructed via interconnected narrative threads/cues beyond exclusive parent forms or individualised game parameters. ARGs make players step outside the restrictions of mono-genre game boundaries and narrative-seek through the use of webtrawling, email, phone/sms contact, real-time interactions and extensive online engagement to glean cues + puzzle pieces. These games work within a collusive reaction principle; that arousal, curiosity and search-behaviour will result if info-schooled gamers are offered teasing data as narrative tip offs, similar to the concept of viral marketing. [eg One of the 1st ARGS was designed as an advertising adjunct to the 2003 movie “AI“]. This anomalous or quirky game information embedded in alternative media [such as movie credits, faux online newspapers or animation shorts/spin offs] will lead to exploration that adds to the narrative unfolding of the game itself, a radically different tilt in terms game-reality-mimicking. This utilisation of game/story cross-genre threading in ARGs is what I term ANG [Active Narrative Gathering]:

“The Animatrix” is comprised of 9 short animated movies which extend and reveal plot nuances of the second movie in the Matrix trilogy, Matrix Reloaded. 1 of the shorts [Kids Story] plugs a narrative hole evident in the movie structure – the gaping question of the origins/story point of the Neo-fawning-boy-child is essentially answered. This type of story cross-genre threading is an example of ANG that echos the type of search_+_blend jigsaw plot gathering used in ARGs. To attain a complete narrative unfolding [ie join-the-story-dots-campbellesqueness-hero-journey-style] you must connect with satellite media that enhance + complete the story jigsaw, such as playing the Enter the Matrix/The Matrix Online video games + viewing The Animatrix.
This type of ANG assembly could act to catapult the audience beyond their internalised story-parsing abilities and draw on other avenues of jig-sawing narrative production [ARGs, MUDs, or mobile-like txt plotlines that unravel + develop as a text or vlog-volley progresses, similar to PhotoShop Tennis].

[Question + (Construct Your Own) Answer]

#Acronym Unpack: Augmented Reality Tranposing
#Layered ART Architecture based on:
# + The projected Exploding of Campbellesque Narrative Neatness
# + A Reconceptualizing of the Constructs that Define Artistic Output
# + Reverse-Engineered Rethink of Contemporary Relevance of
# Digital/Networked Art in the Light of Contemporary Game-Popularity
# + Active Removal of the Monomedia Barriers that Load Artistic
Endeavours along an Individualised Canonist Line
#Primarily I(nformation)I(ntegration) + E(xpression) gameplay
#C(orporeality)E(mulation)L(oading): Unnecessary

/Does game + entertainment construction that utilises ANG portend a cultural tipping point of sorts for art itself [an antidote to commercial games acting increasingly as “reality” emulators]?

/Is the phenomenon of keeping games so completely embedded in consumer-strata via required/constant soft/hardware updates creating a gamer underclass? Upgrade envy is a gritty example of a dirty capitalism-induced curve where a user displays tendencies of needing [or desiring] constant upgrades in order to perpetuate the next gamer consumerist wave. This upgrade push is not exclusively restricted to game-heads – in terms of the latest networked art genres, are graphically-beefed projects enough to justify the constant software/plug-in consumer push + sensory/3D replication pandering? Do 3D sensory triggers [cf multimedia as opposed to text or code] dictate exclusive experiential fullness as opposed to those that utilize stripped-back contextual cues or simple search behaviours?

/Should art creation be shuttling towards the construction/discovery/investigation of information/media/data existing via [sociocultural or expressive] augmented builds that both enhance + project forms in ways that are unexpected + [hopefully] startlingly innovative?

/Should artists learn from ARGs ability to push genre-dimensionalities beyond the emptiness of forced sterile institutionalised [sanctioned] interactivity? Do many examples of electronic/digital/networked art encourage or epitomize such accessible seeking/searching behaviour or curiosity/blending-beyond-genre-boundaries? Does this [in part] also explain why art as a homogenised concept seems less potent [in our contemporary “globalised” mercurial/mismashed/colonised/hegemonic society] as a potential cultural modifier/constructor? The source point of interactivity is the imagination – is this growing trend of micro-economic assessment of our most basic cultural construction elements [ie imagination] reducing our ability to create artistic output that has corresponding contemporary relevancy equal to those products [ie games] that push a consumerist agenda? Does this in part explain why art seems so marginalised/undervalued in our contemporary setting and anything considered a consumerist artifact [ie games] isn’t? Could ARGs be illuminative here in terms of treading that line between art-reification + established information/data/genre enmeshment?