Self-reflexive videogames: observations and corollaries on virtual worlds as philosophical artifacts

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Self-reflexive videogames are videogames designed to materialize critical and/or satirical perspectives on the ways in which videogames themselves are designed, played, sold, manipulated, experienced, and understood as social objects. This essay focuses on the use of virtual worlds as mediators, and in particular on the use of videogames to guide and encourage reflections on technical, interactive, and thematic conventions in videogame design and development. Structurally, it is composed of two interconnected parts: 1) In the first part of this essay, I will discuss NECESSARY EVIL (Gualeni et al., 2013), an experimental videogame that I designed as a self-reflexive virtual artifact. With the objective of clarifying the philosophical aspirations of self-reflexive videogames – and in order to understand how those aspirations can be practically pursued – I will dissect and examine the design decisions that contributed to the qualities of NECESSARY EVIL as an example of “playable philosophy”. 2) Taking off from the perspectives on self-reflexive videogames offered in the first part of the essay, the second half will focus on virtual worlds as viable mediators of philosophical thought more in general. In this section, I will argue that, both through the practice of game design and through the interactive experiences of virtual worlds, twenty-first century philosophers have the possibility to challenge the often-unquestioned understanding of written discourse as the only context in which philosophical thought can emerge and be developed.
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Archival date: 2019-05-22
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