Representations of the city in video games

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Schweizer, Bobby
Pearce, Celia
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This research strives to characterize the means by which video game players experience and understand the space of the game city during the course of play. Three-dimensional video game cities are neither static environments nor stationary views; rather, they are experienced through movement, action, and play. Our experiences of new places are not developed at a glance. Instead, they are cultivated through use over time. This work utilizes games that take place in constructed versions of New York City as a case study. By focusing on the ways players navigate spaces, we can understand how they construct spatial awareness and how this space is transformed into a meaningful place of play. In order to come to this understanding, this study asks a series of questions: How are these spaces arranged? How does the player move through the space and how does the game teach spatial navigation? What actions are performed in the space and how is gameplay adapted for the city environment? And how do of narrative environments contribute to a player's identification with the space? These questions are examined within a framework of urban, cultural, and game studies. I examine techniques that are employed by video game city designers to help players navigate space and make it meaningful. Additionally, this research poses areas for future expansion and experimentation with game cities.
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