Virtual World-Weariness: On Delaying the Experiential Erosion of Digital Environments

In A. Gerber & U. Goetz (eds.), The Architectonics of Game Spaces: The Spatial Logic of the Virtual and its Meaning for the Real. Bielefeld: Transcript. pp. 153-165 (2019)
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A common understanding of the role of a game developer includes establishing (or at least partially establishing) what is interactively and perceptually available in (video)game environments: what elements and behaviors those worlds include and allow, and what is – instead – left out of their ‘possibility horizon’. The term ‘possibility horizon’ references the Ancient Greek origin of the term ‘horizon’, ὄρος (oros), which denotes a frontier – a spatial limit. On this etymological foundation, ‘horizon’ is used here to indicate the spatial and operational boundaries that a (video)game environment affords its players. This book chapter discusses a particular feeling that emerge in relation to playful encounters with the ‘possibility horizons’ of videogames. I am referring here to the realization, as a player, that a game environment can be experientially exhausted and is, as such, ultimately banal. In other words, I will examine how our deliberate engagement with the interactive environments of digital games can trigger sensations that are analogous to what Romantic authors referred to as Weltschmerz (‘world-weariness’).

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Stefano Gualeni
University of Malta


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