Popular discourses around digital games have long made the claim that games can grant the experience of ‘being someone else,’ letting us step into the shoes of heroes, adventurers, rogues and champions. This presentation shall take this apparent promise as its starting point: what does it mean for a game to grant us the possibility of being someone else? How can a game construct us as a different subject? To address this question, this presentation shall touch upon the link between play and freedom in the philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre and Eugen Fink, before drawing on work in game studies on avatars, identity, subjectivity, agency and game aesthetics to discuss, in more concrete terms, how games structure particular ways of being for players to inhabit during their play. Finally, the presentation will end with an interrogation of the promise itself, asking: what are the ideological assumptions behind the idea that a game can let us ‘be someone else,’ and what potentially problematic implications are contained in this promise?
Dr. Daniel Vella is a senior lecturer at the Institute of Digital Games (University of Malta). He is the co-author (with Stefano Gualeni) of Virtual Existentialism (Palgrave Pivot, 2020) and has published a number of papers and book chapters on subjectivity, aesthetics and space and place in games. He is also a narrative designer for board games with Mighty Boards, and his writing credits include Posthuman Saga (2019) and Fateforge: Chronicles of Kaan (forthcoming, 2023).
What? Talk on video game subjectivity by Dr. Daniel Vella (University of Malta)
When? Friday, April 21, 4pm-5pm
Where? TAG Lab (EV11.435, 1515 St Catherine W)
Who? All are welcome!