Play the story: Embodiment and emplacement in the video game


Harvey, Colin 2009. Play the story: Embodiment and emplacement in the video game. Thesis University of East London
AuthorsHarvey, Colin

In this PhD thesis I construct a method for the analysis of video game media based upon
the concepts of affect and the body of relations. I explore the interrelationship between
play and story in the video game medium through an approach that emphasizes the
connected and contingent ideas of embodiment and emplacement, as defined by the
cultural studies critic Chris Rojek (2007). I suggest that game play needs to be
understood as simultaneously processural and relational.
I argue that the body of relations can be used as a means to understand a player's
embodiment and emplacement in relation to video game media. The body of relations is
constituted by the physiological, autobiographical, cultural, social, materialist, energetic,
and economic aspects through which video games and video game players are
constructed. Each element of the body of relations exists in a synergistic, dynamic
relationship with the other aspects of the body of relations.
In talking about embodiment I utilise the concept of `affect', the drives and motivations
that characterise all human endeavour. The version of affect I employ was originally
outlined by Baruch Spinoza and has more recently been re-conceptualised by the
contemporary neuroscientist Antonio Damasio (2003).
I connect this definition of affect with the phenomenological approach as outlined by
Maurice Merleau-Ponty (2007) and the idea of the 'extended mind' of Andy Clark and
David Chalmers (2002). The resultant method suggests the necessity of conceiving
`configuration' - the process by which a player interacts and interprets video game media - in affective as well as relational terms (Aarseth 1997; Dovey and Kennedy
2006; Eskelinen 2001; Giddings 2007; Moulthrop 2004; Murray 2005; Woolgar 1991).

Keywordsvideo game media; media analysis
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Deposited18 Aug 2010
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This thesis supplied via ROAR to UEL-registered users is protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights, and duplication of any part of the material is not permitted, except for your personal use for the purposes of non-commercial research and private study in electronic or print form. You must obtain permission from the copyright-holder for any other use. Electronic or print copies may not be offered, for sale or otherwise, to anyone. No quotation from the thesis may be published without proper acknowledgement.

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