Existential Hermeneutics and the Tragedy of the Art Game

Research output: Conference Papers (RGC: 31A, 31B, 32, 33)33_Other conference paper

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Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPresented - 12 Apr 2021


TitleGameCult Talks
LocationOnline / University of Jyvaskyla
Period12 April 2021


Building on computer game studies, phenomenology, existentialism, and art history, I address the technological specificity of computer games as an expressive medium. Based on on Gadamer's notion of risk in gameplay, and, Sartre's duality of freedom and responsibility, I identify the 'gameplay condition', the player's responsibility for their freedom in the computer game. I argue that this can function as a baseline for an existential hermeneutics for computer games, rendering the possibility of failure, rather than for example fiction, gameness, or rules, as the origin of intersubjective significance in computer game play. I will situate computer games on the art-historical trajectory of interactive art, and note how computer games, as manifesting a gameplay condition, differ from interactive art in terms of the roles of the artist and the audience, and the artworks' ways of offering themselves for being performed upon and interpreted. This allows the expressive form of computer games to be described as distinct from that of interactive art. However, looking at contemporary 'art games', I observe how they fall back on interactive art by relying on conventions such as 'navigation' and 'exploration'. While this undoubtedly revivalist style is celebrated by some as 'poetic' and 'artistic', if not even 'innovative', it is nevertheless symptomatic of an unresolvable tension between between satisfying the player and satisfying the artist, a tension due to which 'art games' can always only address meaninglessness and futility as their themes. This enables me to conclude that 'art games' are tragic.

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Existential Hermeneutics and the Tragedy of the Art Game. / Leino, Olli Tapio.

2021. GameCult Talks, Jyvaskyla, Finland.

Research output: Conference Papers (RGC: 31A, 31B, 32, 33)33_Other conference paper