CfP beantwortet: „Violent Urbanscapes: Urban Poverty and Violence in Videogames as Functional Stereotypes“

Zu dritt für die gute Sache – folgenden Call for Papers galt es zu beantworten:

In English

//Eugen Pfister, Institute of Culture Studies and Theatre History, Austrian Academy of Science
//Rudolf Inderst, Chief Editor Resort Games at
//Arno Görgen, Department of the History, Philosophy and Ethics of Medicine, Heinrich-Heine-University, Dusseldorf

Cities in digital games are more often than not represented as urban structures in aesthetic, sociopolitical and moral decay. Apparently, they were designed with the singular aim to confront the players with violence and poverty, not only as an aesthetic or narrative device but also to implement a game mechanic for conflict. In terms of game mechanics, the city – as an arena for the player – offers the developers many advantages like its natural spatial limitation as well as opportunities to construct mazes or routes for the player’s transition. In terms of the game world, the mis-en-scène of cities can tap a seemingly infinite back catalog of aesthetic and narrative traditions of popular knowledge to bring the journey of the player to life and to create an evocative space, which naturalizes the artificial environment.

Negative imageries of the city are used to create an immersive environment in which the stigma of an impoverished, ‘violent urbanscape’ is semantically refigured and functionalized in terms of creating the illusion of authenticity for the player. In our paper, we want to investigate, how these representations of the city differ between different game genres. After a theoretical introduction to ‘urbanscapes’ in games, their functions and forms, we will present two specific examples of genre-
specific imaginations of violence, poverty, and decay in fictionalized urban environments:

While beat’em ups instrumentalize comparable subcultural aesthetics and imaginative perceptions of older action movies of the 1970s and 1980s, role playing games and action-adventures often implement imaginations which rather build on dominant historicized class stereotypes of urban poverty and violence. In both cases, the aesthetical design of the games aims at the same functional idea: to evoke a need of the player to spatially overcome the critical situation by changing the causes of the negative urban surroundings.

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