Worlds of affect: virtual geographies of video games
Ian Graham Ronald Shaw
Video games are virtual worlds, each with its own, distinctive spatiality. This paper suggests that there are two interrelated conceptual dimensions to the study of video games. First, there are the representational issues concerning the worlds depicted in video games, such as those portraying hypersexualized women or Orientalist depictions of Arab enemies. We suggest, however, that these cultural, sexual, and political representations are not the only forces doing work on the player within the virtual world of a video game. This paper complements a purely representational approach by considering ‘affect’ as a precognitive force which disrupts and delights the player with reactions ranging from fear to joy. We argue that, as the spatiality of video games has evolved from simple two-dimensional to complex three-dimensional worlds; the importance of an affective experience to the player has become paramount. Exploiting and manipulating the player’s sensory experience is now the central strategy for many game designers. The paper is divided in two interrelated sections: the first tackles representational issues from culture to violence, while the second section contributes to our understanding of video games as ‘worlds of affect’.
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