Science Fiction Film & Television

How sf is embodied in level structures

Singular space in computer game interiors and game mechanics

Science Fiction Film & Television (2021), 14, (2), 209–234.

Abstract

The experience of game intrinsic space is an architectural mode of perception more congruent to actual experiences of physically real architecture than to filmic space. This paper thus centres on the aesthetics of production, concerning the game worlds’ geometry, level structures and game mechanics, within the broader context of how sf and computer games are inextricably merged. This is to investigate how game intrinsic spaces communicate properties of sf or a media-specific ‘science fiction-ness’ through their aesthetics and digital condition. By first building a foundation on the topic of singular space and its liminality, I will then proceed with a few remarks on sf theory, sf imagery and the staging of (im)possible worlds in relation to the concept of ontological possibility space. For this purpose, I refer to two authors of sf theory: Vivian Sobchack and Simon Spiegel. Based on these two sections, I will give an introductory overview on game intrinsic space, its non-linear properties and the incorporation of the player. Here, differences between filmic and game intrinsic space will also be emphasised through a brief discussion. Thus, sf theory and film theory are interwoven with spatial theory and game studies in order to analyse the ontological possibility space that goes beyond the player-character’s everyday experience in actuality. Several examples clarify the theoretical groundwork while Portal 2 (2011) and Echo (2017) function as case studies.

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Bonner, Marc