On Video Game Space

When playing games, people tend to take into consideration the geometry of the gaming space. Examples include the size of the playable space, its borders and such. Alongside this, games also focus on new ways to evaluate space and being able to interpret it in other more creative ways. Games and the process of play are interconnected and the concept of play-space and gaming-space are similar, yet distinct elements of a game. Play-space can be for example a location in which the game takes place. On the other hand, the game space represents the rules that govern the play spaces and is responsible for dictating what can and cannot be done within the play-space.

Space Representation

When it comes to playing video games, it is mostly about interaction, exploration, manipulation and transformation of objects and elements within the game space. Game developers can use elements within the game environment to give important information to the player. A few examples can include lore books and other context items within games. While finding and interacting with these elements is optional and left to the player’s choice, it can provide a lot of context about the play space of the game itself so that the players can be fully immersed. Two video game scholars, Henry Jenkins and Kurt Squire say that game space and spatial design can be used to tell a story to the player, a design feature known as visual storytelling. This can be done through objects being placed intelligently through the environment, guiding the player, or conveying information about the world presented.

For players to understand the play-space, it is a necessity to project the right context, presentation and meaningful functionality to make the virtual space navigable. Many approaches have been made to analyze video games, each of them presenting different layers or planes of understanding. The question has been, how we, as humans, are positioned concerning space and how do we perceive space in general as cyberspace is a recreation of people’s experiences? Gaming spaces truly differentiate themselves from different mediums due to the possibility of player agency and decision-making. The game gives the players, the possibility of changing the action. Video games cannot be experienced on their own, as without the player there is no game to experience. This is one of the factors of why the idea of gaming as an artform is skewed.

An Evolving Artform

Many video games, just like any other type of art form, are crafted as a form of expression. The difference lies in the tools that are used to craft the art form. As video games evolved more and more genres of these games were created, each of them bringing their different elements. Many people have agreed that video games should be looked to as a form of art, especially as postmodern art. The idea seems hard for some people to comprehend as one of the main functions regarding art is to manage and transmit an idea to as many people as possible. What makes video games stand out is that it is a medium that brings together different art forms to create a whole. Composers, designers, artists, and writers all come together, united by a vision proposed by a game director to bring the world of the video game to life.

Cyberspace is a widespread term that can be assigned to interconnected digital technology. It was introduced to the world by art and science fiction and it is known to be a widely used term describing the domain of the global technology environment. In modern times, the term is ascribed to anything related to the internet and internet culture. However, it should not be confused with the internet itself. Martin Dodge and Rob Kitchin pointed out when they first introduced their work “Mapping Cyberspace” it was noted that cyberspace is not one homogenous space, but a plethora of emerging virtual worlds, each one of them providing different forms of interaction. This concept largely refers to video game spaces with various forms of interaction and communication. The earliest forms of video games such as Spacewar! And Tennis for Two could not have been created without the computer featured graphics based on which later titles will emerge.

Game Space and Dimensions

Space within games is always represented through the use, or recreation of physical space features, physics and such. In the 2D era of games, there were mostly “impossible spaces”. The game Asteroids, for example, had its space created with the use of a 2D plane. The asteroids featured in this plane would reappear on the opposite side of the screen the moment it reached the edge. This is an excellent example of how a 2D space could be used to create an “impossible space” which are in stark contrast to the newer and more realistic spaces, using 3D.

There are many layers used when creating a video game space, even with online casino games, we can see several different approaches used to create the casino environment. For slot machines, both 3D and 2D graphical approaches can be used. In many cases, the background is rendered in 2D combined with 3D objects used for the game’s interactive objects. An online slot machine design can be separated into different sections: background 2D graphics, individual slot graphics, and various animation, from spinning reels to other effects applied during certain stages of the game. Different methods are used for different individual casino games to be able to recreate the game space that resembles the look and feel of a casino. Other casinos make heavy use of 3D elements and going so far as to create an entire 3D virtual casino, each of the players being represented by an in-game avatar, similar to a character in an MMORPG. As mentioned before, game space is, in most cases, a recreation of the human experience, a detail which can be found in other artistic expression and mediums.

The use of 3D makes the gaming space and spatial dimensions appear more natural and realistic. This is not necessary for every game. Many 2D games that have been recreated with the use of 3d rendering have been received very poorly, as the original game’s mechanics were created to fully use the 2D environment. poorly, as the original game’s mechanics were created to fully use the 2D environment. All in all the space in a video game should be used to serve the game and it’s mechanics, as well as narrative, as well as providing the player with a pleasant environment to immerse themselves in.

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