Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Personal Space

While reading Lev Manovich’s “Navigable Space” I was really interested by his theorizations of Myst vs. Doom, and the navigable spaces that they provide. While they are both “spatial journeys” (p. 245,) they are very different in how they ask the user to examine their spaces since they “obey different conventions” (p. 248.) When Manovich says that “new levels [of Doom were] widely available on the internet for anyone to download” (p. 245,) I realized that by removing the control that game developers usually exerted over their games id Software, Doom’s developer, made the game more readerly as they also “encouraged the players to expand the game, [and] creat[e]…new levels” (p. 245.) However, while the game is more readerly in the sense of it being more individual and more personal to the user, the user is still playing Doom on their computer and id Software is still getting the profits from the sale. While on the other hand, Myst, the more exploratory game involving the user to think, is seemingly very individual; however, “it is a closed…system…[which] only the original creators can modify” (p. 245,) so it gives the game itself a sense of freedom, but not a customizable one.

This made me think about what else is marketed as personal. The first thing that came to mind is the personal computer; however, we do have many options as the consumer to choose different products. Then HP’s slogan “the computer is personal again” popped into mind, so I thought of one item that is easily customizable. When you choose just one device whether it is a PC, and iPhone, or any other device that is customizable, you feel free to explore. Manovich’s concepts don’t just apply to video games, as we navigate through app stores, the Internet and other places to customize our devices. We are still buying into the system and companies that created the devices we live by, thus we are free to roam, but not free to leave. This theory also goes back to my last post; however, Manovich’s ideas further back up the point that I made by adding onto the idea of a control environment where the user has the illusion of freedom and customization.

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