Call: G|A|M|E (Game as Art, Media, Entertainment) – 3D issue

G|A|M|E – Game as Art, Media, Entertainment

CFP for G|A|M|E n.2/2013 (

Deadline for abstract (max. 500 words): November 2nd, 2012

Technology evolution and perspective innovation – 3D and spatial depth today and yesterday.

The second issue of G|A|M|E| will investigate 3D technologies and their implications for the video game world. The concept of 3D, in this context, refers to both stereoscopy and, more generally, tridimensional systems of representation that have been dominant in video games since the early 1990s. The issue welcomes all contributions dealing with these graphic technologies and their influence as representational and aesthetic tools.

While the history of 3D and stereoscopy is long and varied, the past few years have witnessed an increasing diffusion and commercialisation of stereoscopic devices, from the rise of stereoscopic cinema to the spread of 3D home screens and projectors. As a consequence, the concept of 3D, in relation to film production, distribution and exhibition, univocally identifies the phenomenon of stereoscopic vision. On the contrary, this same concept is problematic when applied to the video game medium. On the one hand, the definition of 3D in video games historically addresses the shift from bidimensional to tridimensional graphic engines. Nevertheless, this term has more recently been adopted in its cinematic acceptation – the one of stereoscopic vision – in relation to the video game medium. In a time when 3D presents itself as a problematic and ambiguous conceptual label, G|A|M|E intends to investigate its nature as both tridimensional graphic and stereoscopic vision.

In this context, we want to investigate the concept of tridimensionality intended not only as the development and the implementation of the stereoscopic vision, but also as a regime of representation that has been dominant in video games since the early 1990s. According to this vision, we want to investigate both the objects, artefacts and products around which this innovation took place and the evolution process of the polygonal graphic.

We aim to develop this analysis on two layers: the first layer is external to the text and questions the nature of the video game as dispositif, a structure that requires a configuration between the player, the interface, the machine and the roles played by perspective, tridimensionality and depth in this process; the second layer is internal and envisions an analysis within the text and its contents, thus working to critique the development of spatial depth and perspective in video games.

Furthermore, we propose a first research line that focuses on the influence of the medium’s structure (the gaming machines and devices) over the spatial dimension of the text. We question whether there are any differences (and which would they be) in terms of creating a sense of spatiality and depth between playing on different devices such as: arcade machines; tablets; conventional home-consoles; PCs; VR helmets etc. We want to trace the history of the means of spatial representation and depth from pre-cinema screens, through cinema, up to modern game consoles.

We are also interested in researching the technological, aesthetic and functional reasons behind the shift from the bidimensional to the tridimensional and polygonal graphic that took place in the early 2000s. Taking a historical perspective, we are interested in analysing the early productions based on polygonal engines comparing them to the ones of the second generation (for example, we want to study the innovations brought by games such as Battlezone, Shadow of the Beast, Hunter and Midwinter, Wing Commander on the 16 bit machines; Wolfenstein 3D on MS-DOS; Super Mario 64 and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time on Nintendo 64; Tomb Raider on PlayStation), ending with an analysis of contemporary productions in which the structure of the polygons is covered in textures and hidden by mapping effects and shaders.

Furthermore we inquire as to why some specific genres (FPS, simulation games) have been particularly linked to the realistic representation of depth and space achieved through the use of polygons, whilst other genres (such as puzzle games and adventures) have shown a stronger tendency towards abstract forms of representation. What are the strategies that tie each genre to a polygonal or bidimensional representation, with particular regard to those games in which this choice affects the structure of the text (as in RPGs and fighting games)? What is the relation between abstraction/metaphor and realism in video game representations of space and depth?

The second research line enquires the aesthetic and linguistic repercussions of the rise of 3D as stereoscopic vision in video games. We want to analyse the aesthetic (graphic related), functional (gameplay related) and economic reasons behind the development and commercialisation of stereoscopic devices such as the Nintendo 3DS. We also want to investigate the content of those video games that allow for stereoscopic vision, highlighting its benefits and the disadvantages.

Finally, on a comparative perspective that aims to investigate the relationship between video games and other forms of art and media, what are the relations between stereoscopy in film productions and in video game productions? What is the relation of video games’ spatial and depth representation with other forms of art? Is it possible to talk about a “ludic” representation of spatial perspective in other media? How did the evolution of perspective and space representation in video games affect the “ludic” character of other media?

Scholars are invited to submit 500 words abstracts by November 2nd, 2012, dealing with the development of tridimensional perspective and the commercial, expressive, and artistic impact that this technological shift has had on video game production and reception. We also welcome studies on retro-gaming and video game history, as well as the evolution of hardware and the expressive results for videoludic productions. Finally, we encourage a reflection on the role played by 3D in establishing and/or reinforcing the relation between video games and the contemporary mediascape.

Suggested key questions and issues

  • Virtual worlds and the role of 3D (as stereoscopy and tridimensional graphics) in shaping perspective and sense of depth that affects the fruition/immersion in the virtual environment.
  • Devices and platforms for stereoscopic gaming: portable consoles from Nintendo Virtual Boy to Nintendo 3DS; from smartphones such as LG Optimus 3D to Google Glasses prototype; from the 3D gaming on PC to the evolution of VR-headsets).
  • The development of the spatial depth in early video games up to contemporary productions.
  • The shift from a bidimensional depth to a tridimensional one.
  • From Leon Battista Alberti to Need for Speed: the perspectival space from arts to video games. The shift from a bidimensional to a tridimensional ludic screen (from cinema screen to virtual reality).
  • Genres and spatial depth representation.
  • Relations between stereoscopy in video games and in other media.
  • Analysis of stereoscopic 3D video games: potential advantages and disadvantages.
  • Is there a connection between depth’s formal representation and narrative structure in video games? How does the spatial depth affect gameplay?
  • What are the relations between the realistic representation of depth in video games and abstract ones?
  • Spatial depth in non-3D video games: formal analysis and case studies.
  • What are the differences between the non-stereoscopic and the stereoscopic versions of video games (for example Super Mario 3D Land and Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D)? What are the spatial effects of remakes such as Mortal Kombat or Double Dragon, which adopt the perspective of the original titles?
  • 3D and issues of taxonomy: how do we define specificity and continuity between 3D graphics and 3D stereoscopy?
  • Stereoscopy and its characteristic within video game texts: how does stereoscopic vision affect game playing?
  • 3D distribution and diffusion: what are the problems in the reception of this new technology, and what are the reasons behind its difficulties in being taken up by the market?
  • The impact of 3D hardware development on software: what are the affordances of stereoscopic video gaming consoles and how do they affect game design and programming?
  • Historiography of 3D and tridimensional engines: how does the shift from raster to vector and poligonal graphics affect the evolution of the medium of the video game?
  • 3D engines: what kind of artefacts are 3D graphic engines and how can we analyse them?
  • 3D as marketing vector: in what ways has the video game industry used 3D (in both its meanings as stereoscopic vision and tridimensional graphics) as a marketing tool?
  • The role of tridimensional graphics in enforcing the relation between video game and cinema – the advent of cinematic games.

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