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Kraaijenbrink, J.

Department of Theoretical Philosophy

Building Worlds

The phenomenological story of video games

Video games are a relatively new medium, offering a host of new possibilities for creative expression. However, this novelty also brings with it conceptual confusion and a lack of understanding and appreciation of what makes video games a unique medium.

In my thesis, I attempt to counteract this by isolating a unique property of video games: the ability to tell stories through feelings and emotions, or in other words: through phenomenological states. Video games allow us to be a protagonist in a more real sense than any other medium by creating a magic circle in which we can lose ourselves in the reality of the game. They are able to do this through their ability to build worlds. The game's world can present the player with an alternate reality that is in a sense independent of the player. We can contrast this with the alternate reality of a non-digital game, e.g. golf, which is at all times dependent on the player's lusory attitude, the attitude by which the player knows and accepts the rules. Without this attitude, the magic circle within which the world of golf exists collapses, and the game simply becomes an unintelligent way of getting a ball into a hole.

In the final chapter of my thesis I connect these ideas to my internship at Liquid Flower OY in Finland, where I helped develop the game Qbeh-1: The Atlas Cube, the design philosophy of which formed the basis for this thesis. Because the game has since been released commercially, I have taken the unique opportunity to analyze different perspectives on the game and compare how we developed and envisioned our game to how it is received by reviewers as well as people who upload videos of themselves playing the game to Youtube.

Last modified:21 September 2015 12.10 p.m.