Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Virtual Realities

In the article "Navigable Space," Manovich argues that video games allow people to enter alternative realities and explore different environments. She writes: “In Doom and Myst – and in a great many other computer games – narrative and time itself are equated with movement through 3-D space, progression through rooms, levels, or words.” These games provide players the ability to navigate through space, allowing them to approach objects from various angles and interact with them directly. They are usually presented in a first-person perspective view, which creates a sense of control and immediacy. Graphically, they are designed to keep players within the diegesis; the beautiful images and special effects work together to cultivate a rich, immersive experience, one that places an emphasis on creating mood and atmosphere.

To connect this phenomenon to current events, think about James Cameron’s innovations in movie technology, particularly in regards to his newest film – Avatar. Cameron included both live-action sequences and digitally captured performances in a three-dimensional, computer-generated world. As viewers, we were required to wear 3-D glasses, which, in my opinion, removed us further from reality; with this virtual entertainment headgear, we watched our fantasies (the utopian world of Pandora) flash before our eyes. We felt more like participants than observers.

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