Questo numero monografico nasce per raccogliere alcuni degli interventi prodotti per il convegno "LOADING... Videogioco, arte, media", curato da Elena Di Raddo e Ruggero Eugeni presso l’Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Milano il 5 marzo 2012.
In quell’occasione si è indagato il videogioco da un triplice punto di vista: come forma culturale, come medium e come arte. A premessa di tale confronto è emersa l’idea che il videogioco sia, a tutti gli effetti, una forma di linguaggio che appartiene intimamente e in modo universalmente accettato alla contemporaneità. È possibile quindi studiarlo e analizzarlo con strumenti che consentano di verificarne la portata all’interno dell’attuale sistema linguistico e sociale, superando qualunque tipo di pregiudizio etico-morale. È questa, del resto, un’opinione condivisa in ambito accademico. Dalle analisi di stampo psicologico degli anni Ottanta, infatti, studi di tipo semiotico, sociologico, culturologico e mediale si sono susseguiti con grande frequenza. Punto chiave di tali ricerche è stata la rinuncia alla ricerca dei presunti effetti del medium sui suoi fruitori, in favore di analisi approfondite e maggiormente stratificate.
The notion of “canon” within transmedial universes has a problematic nature, which is reflected in the literature about fandom. The imprecision is due in no small part to the lack of a model regarding its workings and nature. To this end, we propose a model based on the spatialization of the structure of transmedia universes in term of centre/periphery relationship, and discuss the canon as one of the modalities to arrange this relationship. The paper illustrates the concept with some examples in universes which feature video-ludic elements at their centers. The analysis allows the emergence of key differences between universes with “ludic” centres with respect to universes with other kinds of centres: namely, that universes with games at their centres feature less stabilized models of canonization and feature peculiar canonizations such as “non-narrative canonization” which is largely based upon the affordances of video-ludic texts.
The “Surveillance society” is a popular concept that, from classic surveillance studies, moves towards a broader media studies context. The reason of this diffusion lies in the growing spreading of surveillance services and tools in new fields, and in the recurring representation of its dynamics among new media. In this work we will demonstrate how some visual qualities of the videogame experience, coming from both gameplay and framing choices, precisely replicateproper dynamics of the “Surveillance society”. “Shooter” and “Strategic” game genres will be observed, recognizing two different kinds of relation with the diffused contemporary “controller sight”.
This intervention aims at dealing with the analysis of some case studies, reconstructing the critical debate and starting from how digital landscapes are used, with modalities that you can confront with those of the nineteenth-century flâneur who wandered aimlessly through the city just to experience it. The translations of landscapes and contemporary urban imaginaries acquire aesthetic and design-related values to the extent that in some cases they represent another experience for the player, as interactive possibilities not strictly related to the main gameplay. A reconstruction of the models and of their cultural meanings is particularly important, restarting from studies such as the Century City exhibition held at the Tate Modern in London, who investigated the particular importance of some cities in a given period and connected to a specific cultural scene. Thanks to a project-related culture dedicated to the digital city, it has been possible to follow the spread of a phenomenon, the diffusion of different sorts of tourism in videogames, interpreted from time to time as a “prize” for the gamer, a diversion or a parallel activity, often user-generated, compared to the main action of the game, or characterized as interstices in the main action and narration, until recent cases in which the act of looking and documenting coincide with the game itself.
The article aims at analyzing the representations of the city and the urban space that are proposed in videogames. To this end, we identified four different “models and specific ideologies” of cities that can be found in a videogame: “city as a mirror of modernity”, “literary city”, “myth-city” and “film city” verifying how videogames do not simply tend to produce more detailed cities, but adapt the design according to two orders of choices: the gameplay and a background ideology and culture.
Along the last years, the debate around videogames as art got momentum. Unsurprisingly, this debate included many misunderstandings and cross wires, usually related to the meaning and the cultural dignity (or lack thereof) one applies to the key words of this discussion: “art”, “game”, and “videogame”. Most of these misunderstandings are not new, but resurfaced any time Western culture had to face the problem of accepting the artistic nature of a given new medium, from photography to cinema and video. After briefly considering the legitimization dynamics of these media, the author discusses the definition – now widely accepted – of “art games”, suggesting a distinction between videogames as an autonomous artistic medium and “art world”, and the use of videogame as a medium in the field of contemporary art.
This essay examines Codes of Honor ‒ a narrative-based machinima on arcade culture produced by Jon Rafman (b. 1981) in 2011 ‒ through the lenses of Vilém Flusser (1920-1991) and William Gibson (b. 1948). Specifically, Bittanti suggests that the Canadian artist exemplifies what media philosopher Flusser called “envisioneer”, “non-spectacular revolutionary”, and homo ludens in Into the Universe of Technical Images, published in 1985. According to Flusser, in the emergent telematic society, a new generation of artists ‒ envisioneers ‒ will create novel images in unexpected ways through playful, global dialogue. Likewise, in his 1984 novel Neuromancer, Gibson described a new kind of subject that manipulates images in a rhizome-like electronic universe, subsequently revealing that the inspiration came from watching arcade gamers. The essay investigates the surprising affinities between narrative and theory, videogames and Game Art. In this context, Code of Honor is discussed a paradigmatic text in which these threads create a meta-dialogue.
The article analyzes two recent video games, Super Paper Mario and Paper Wars: Cannon Fodder, in order to trace a possible history of how video game gained awareness of itself as a cultural medium. A history comparable to the much longer one of traditional artistic mediums. Both games feature an ironic, metalinguistic use of 2-D images within a fully three-dimensional space: a pastiche of formal elements from the past into advanced technology and gaming. Video game foregrounds its history, staging it in a way similar to that used by much postmodern painting. A degree of awareness which has always characterized such a complex medium, whose evolution has been modeled – with an acceleration typical of technological development – on that of painting. The relation between the two has alternatively been serious or ironic, yet always driven by the influence of a shared culture.
The article is about SIBI The Playroom, an installation by the Pauli Accola Collective presented in Asti (Italy) in September-October 2012. During this period the Collective has opened a Playroom that allowed the audience to try SIBI, a software that can generate thousands of instructions for the production of creative artifact. The creative practice emerging from the use of SIBI, a peculiar hybrid of play and artistic creation, questions the relevance and permeability of these two notions. The article traces the experience of the Playroom and presents some theoretical hypotheses that emerged while experimenting with SIBI.
Warco is a video game developed by Defiant Development in collaboration with director Robert Connolly and photojournalist Tony Maniaty. Even as a yet unrealized project, the game constitutes an interesting case study, giving new perspectives on the very way the ludic, interactive dimension of video game is conceived. Instead of killing the usual amount of enemies, the player is asked to assume the identity of Jesse Demarco, a female photojournalist working at a fictional war front in the Middle East. The concept itself is very innovative: the game’s mission is to make a video and photo report and send it to the broadcasting station. Photography, then, is not just an instrument available to the player, but the only means for the completion of the game. Warco offers a rare opportunity to think about the task of the photojournalist, showing how it can be accomplished, even if just virtually, by whomever might play the part.
The touristic film (film turistico) is one of the most interesting, underestimated subgenre of the Italian comedy of the fifties. Such films as Racconti d’estate (Franciolini, 1958), Vacanze d’inverno (Mastrocinque, 1959), Vacanze a Ischia (Camerini, 1957) or Souvenir d’Italie (Pietrangeli, 1957) not only attest Italy’s admission to the stage of ‘mass tourism’, but also trigger the general mobilization of the Italians towards seaside and mountain resorts, spa towns and cities of arts. Vacanze a Ischia by Mario Camerini – first step of a cycle completed by Appuntamento a Ischia (Mattioli, 1960) and Ischia operazione amore (Sala, 1965) – deserves special attention in the light of its representativeness. This essay aims at studying the film as a agent of turistization, highlighting the tendentious work of narrative integration of consumers, consumption and patterns of gaze for promotional purposes.
Dance is one of the performing arts that has been promoted the transformation of artistic research. In spite of its ritual origin, dance must be seen as an art form within the scope of the twentieth-century spectacle, as a part of leisure time and entertainment, to deal with the market and the public, as well. And it is the viewer’s gaze to come into play in analyzing communicative spectacular event. In fact, far from being the target of the proposed expression, the viewer is the actualizer of the potential meaning of the scenic event, increasingly stressed by abstract forms, less didactic, not subject to linear fruition, from cognitive and emotional challenges which must be more generally considered within contemporary art. On this basis the theater spectators were the subjects of an exploratory research on contemporary dance sponsored by the c_a_p Collective committed to the promotion of contemporary dance in the territory of the province of Rimini. The article aims to focus on the findings of the open request of the questionnaire asking for their point of view on dance both as an art form and a cultural product. The answers allow to identify a typology of attitudes towards dance ranging from the definition of it as an artistic form to the idea of it as a particular area of the relationship between the supply of live performance, the production and fruition strategies. Then, in relation to the goals of the empirical research, the article sides with the viewer and his/her observation. Finally, the paper tries to show how a marketing approach, suitable to contemporary dance, depends on the need to recognize and synchronize with the specific forms of this particular cultural object and its publics.