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  • Student Thesis: From Above, From Below: Navigating the Videogame

    [01.20.09]
    - Daniel Golding
  • Screenshot from the game Portal Daniel Golding
    "From Above, From Below: Navigating the Videogame"
    BA honors thesis, Cultural Studies in the school of Culture and Communication, The University of Melbourne
    Supervisor: Dr. Fran Martin
    October 2008

    Abstract
    The study of videogames is still evolving. While many theorists have accurately described aspects of the medium, this thesis seeks to move the study of videogames away from previously formal approaches and towards a holistic method of engagement with the experience of playing videogames. Therefore, I propose that videogames are best conceptualized as navigable, spatial texts. This approach, based on Michel de Certeau's concept of strategies and tactics, illuminates both the textual structure of videogames and the immediate experience of playing them. I also regard videogame space as paramount. My close analysis of Portal (Valve Corporation, 2007) demonstrates that a designer can choose to communicate rules and fiction, and attempt to influence the behavior of players through strategies of space. Therefore, I aim to plot the relationship between designer and player through the power structures of the videogame, as conceived through this new lens.

    Contents
    Abstract
    Acknowledgments
    Chapter One: Introduction
    Chapter Two: The Videogame from above: the designer as strategist
    Chapter Three: The videogame from below: the player as tactician
    Chapter Four: Conclusion
    Bibliography

    [Thesis available as PDF download (288Kb).]

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