Director of Game Studies and Engineering at Alpen-Adria-University Klagenfurt
The term ?experience? is the proverbial elephant in the densely cluttered room of video game coverage. Used by journalists to promote the uniqueness of upcoming video games – for whatever that may mean – and constantly squeezed into scientific model depictions of immersion, the term blew up into a vague umbrella term. Due to its utmost constituent nature in our personal understanding of reality, perception, and knowledge, experience is an elusive concept. For that reason, it must be fundamentally investigated in order to be of use for the study of video games.
The talk aims to provide an elementary definition what a video game experience is to add such a pivotal core definition to contemporary video game studies. Central to this undertaking is an analysis of both stems of this compound term: ?video game? and ?experience.? Both cases demand a research journey beginning with 18th century philosophy and ending at modern cultural, literary and media studies. Arriving at the conclusion that experience is the liminal ground between who experiences and that which is experienced, the experts research reveals that the video game studies consists of two layers that span dimensions of empiric and non-empiric proportions. It shows that while the prior dimensions are well covered in contemporary research, the latter ones are rarely touched and if, as in the case of journalism, are often provided in a contextual void.
The talk answers the inevitable follow-up question of how video games do facilitate experiences in reliance to the experts dissertation?s follow-up assumption: there are culture-specific art traditions which intent to convey these experiences and the unique remediation of video games allows us to explore them. Examples from the British independent game developer The Chinese Room highlight the Britishness in its games, show how cultural principles guide us through virtual worlds and provide the experiences we seek.
Felix Schniz is a PhD candidate at the Department of English of the Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt. His dissertation focuses on British videogames and the phenomenology of videogame experiences. Furthermore, Felix is the current director of studies for the master?s programme Game Studies and Engineering, head of the Klagenfurt Critical Game Lab, and regularly holds media competency trainings about videogame pedagogy for Austrian teachers.