June 3, 2018

Architectonics of virtual spaces (Switzerland)

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IDG's Stefano Gualeni is one of the invited speakers at the seminar:

The architectonics of virtual spaces: Architecture and urbanism in video games and virtual reality

The event will take place on the 9th of June at the Werner Oechslin Library in Einsiedeln (Switzerland), and is organized in collaboration with the Institute of Urban Landscape, ZHAW Winterthur (Switzerland).

Below is the abstract of Stefano's talk.


TITLE: BIG TROUBLE in Little Cities

ABSTRACT: Traditional forms of expression such as literature or film contribute to shaping our beliefs and perceptions in ways that are relatively stable: they follow narrative and representational canons that we are largely familiar with. Unsurprisingly, this is why we call them ‘traditional media’.

According to American scholar Ted Friedman, the specific ways in which space and interaction are presented, framed, and manipulated in videogames introduce new, uncharted expressive paradigms. This does not mean, of course, that these paradigms are free of old ideological baggage.

In ‘BIG TROUBLE in Little Cities’ I explain that videogames are built upon technologies of control and quantification, and how their means-ends rationality pervades how they are made, understood, and valued as social objects. Focusing on ‘simulation videogames’ and ‘turn-based-strategy videogames’, I identify some of the latent ideologies that underpin videogame franchises such as SimCity, The Sims, and Civilization.

The ‘BIG TROUBLE’ discussed in this talk consists in the fact that our experiences of digital ‘little cities’ force us to internalize (and operate upon) what are, at heart, capitalistic values. Unwittingly, contemporary videogames tend to reinforce very limiting (and very dangerous) principles and ideas concerning power, politics, the environment, and what constitutes a good life.

As a game designer who is passionate about philosophy, and as a philosopher who makes videogames, I intend to show that other expressive paradigms for videogames are possible. I argue that we can - and probably should - design that virtual spaces and experiences that promote critical thinking rather than constitute an obstacle to it: videogames that can encourage us to actively understand and prefigure our collective future(s).


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  4. Gualeni, S. (2015). Virtual worlds as philosophical tools: How to philosophize with a digital hammer. Springer.
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