The Navigator's Experience: An Examination of the Spatial in Computer Games
The following chapter investigates space in computer games. It asks what models might best be utilized to analyze the experience and pleasures of the players' navigation through computer games space. A basic tenet of the approach advanced here is that while computer games are visual worlds, to an extent perceived similarly to other visual media such as film, other traditions of navigation and spatiality can also be useful in gaining a more nuanced understanding of what it is to navigate computer game space. This account therefore seeks to bring existing notions of spectatorship into dialogue with accounts of spatial navigation drawn from other disciplines, including painting, film and landscape design. To do this, I first need to establish some of the critiques of the traditional Western conception of space. I then introduce the work of thinkers who have presented alternate conceptions of spatial experience, among them Henri Lefebvre, Michel De Certeau and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Considering examples from different traditions of garden design - from the formal Baroque gardens, to the 18th century English landscape gardens, and earlier Chinese scholars' gardens -- enables us to compare different aesthetic conventions regarding the representation of, and movement through space, and the respective subjectivities this engenders. In the final section, using single player 3D and isometric games as examples, I show how elements of these different cultural and spatial traditions have come together in the computer game player's navigation of virtual games space, considering the significance of this for a model of player experience.
The Pleasures of Computer Gaming: Essays on Cultural History, Theory and Aesthetics