Advanced Spatialities

Advanced Spatialities

Ulrich Gehmann, Martin Reiche
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 10
DOI: 10.4018/ijacdt.2013010105
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In this article the authors are going to explore a fundamental problem of modern spaces, and modern spatiality in general: their virtualization and final annihilation by augmenting them. There are two major domains where this happened and still happens: inside real space, and inside the virtual spaces of so-called location-based games. In both cases of its real and virtual appearance, space becomes efficient and therefore loses its uniqueness and identity, with concomitant effects on the user’s very own perception of reality. The authors will concentrate upon the case of gaming; here, augmentation re-shapes the perception of the real object in space (which is not originally part of the game) by making it an active element of the game, i.e. it utilizes the object (and furthermore the surrounding space) and thus frees it of its original meaning and utility. Furthermore, it gets incorporated into the artificial (virtual) space and acquires two new properties: it becomes interactive and as a result, interchangeable. The perception of reality thus gets augmented at the same time as it gets reduced to the bare minimum of information needed to reach the goal of the game. The authors will be providing a set of rules to address these phenomena in a generic manner.
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Augmentation of space, together with the concomitant creation and emergence of new spatialities, has a long tradition in Western modernity. It started with the reshaping of 19th century metroplitan areas through the implementation of infrastructural grids, leading to the phenomenon of the so-called gridiron city, i. e. to the functional zoning our present day-cities rest upon; the aim was to achieve the so-called unitary city ideal, man's place to live as a zoon politikon being performed into a matrix devoted to functions and rationality [1, pp. 55, 60]. Space, and in particular the space of man as the cultural animal, the city, was transformed into an augmented version: it became a structural format where such an animal had to live in. Then the process of augmentation went on via the conception of space in terms of process flows modelling spatial realities (e.g., Buckminster Fuller's concepts [2, pp. 16f., 198]), that is, it became a processual format structured alongside diverse functionalities; an abstraction of an 'original' reality rich in variety was transformed, via an abstract model, into a new reality – the space of the world is flow, structured flow according to functions, and it became not only an augementation device for a primordial reality already existing, but the reality, the world perceived as relevant. It started with the appliance of cybernetic models to shape the most diverse real issues, it continued to unfold with processes described in Manuel Castells' Information Society with its “abstract instrumentalism”[3, p.3], and it now ended with the type of game we want to describe.

What does this all mean? It means that we cannot understand the phenomena outlined in the examination to come without considering the historical context inside which they had evolved. Moreover, it means that the attempt to “augment” an existing reality, to meliorate it towards something perceived as better or (at least) more feasible has a long tradition inside our cultural sphere; in pursue of a myth of progress, the given reality has to be transformed (augmented), it is not allowed to stay as it is, for the respective time being, but has to be constantly improved, reworked. In its essence, it is a utopian approach in its literal meaning – the topos of the existing isn't enough, we have to establish models for a better reality by abstracting from the existing, and the abstraction – the augmented version of the being as a model – has to be then, has to become reality. This is the overall move the following findings ground upon.

Goal of this paper is to give a deeper understanding of the ability of the game to re-render the user’s perception of the city he lives in, as a concrete entity, and the implications this might have for the way he interacts with the places he visits. And aligned to it, our goal is to show that the actual destruction of space through augmenting it is not an isolated phenomenon restricted to “some” games but a general tendency of the historical epoch we live in. So, we want to show how the phenomena of games issued here are embedded in this general tendency, them being just one apex (amongst others) of this tendency.

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