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Darkness in Videogame Landscapes: Corporeal and Representational Entanglements

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Robert Shaw


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Video games have a unique capacity to place a player within a landscape. The experience of gaming is often multisensorial and immersive in ways that other media struggle to be, combining the physical engagement with the game with discursive techniques of narrative and storytelling. This chapter looks at how engagements with darkness and artificial lighting in games both inform and are informed by broader corporeal interactions with darkness. I argue that games mediate players’ access to the world, doing representational work as one element of the assemblage of our subjective interactions with landscape. I also explore the representations within certain games, looking at the groups, people and places which feature. Drawing on examples from games such as Alan Wake, Grand Theft Auto and L.A. Noire, I show how some games contain darkness and nights of high ‘resolution’ – which bring life to the encountered landscapes, while others contain the use of darkness as a tool within gaming to immerse players within landscapes – and explore what this tells us, first, about gaming landscapes, and, second, about landscape more broadly. Specifically, this chapter explores the relationship between landscape and atmosphere, between urban landscapes within games and urban landscapes as experienced, and between embodied and psychological production of landscape. From ‘non-representational’ descriptions of landscape, this chapter argues that gaming landscapes add to the layers of urban space, and that darkness plays a key discursive and affective role in doing this.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Shaw R

Editor(s): Dunn, Nick Edensor, Tim

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: Rethinking Darkness: Cultures, Histories, Practices

Year: 2020

Print publication date: 29/10/2020

Online publication date: 29/10/2020

Acceptance date: 17/07/2020

Publisher: Routledge

Place Published: London


DOI: 10.4324/9780429259654-10

Notes: 9780429259654 eBook ISBN.

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9780367201159