Intermediality and Video Games: Analysis of Silent Hill 2

Intermediality and Video Games: Analysis of Silent Hill 2

Mehdi Debbabi Zourgani (Paris 5 Descartes, France), Julien Lalu (UFR SHA Poitiers, France) and Matthieu Weisser (UFR SHA Poitiers, France)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0477-1.ch004
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This chapter proposes to study intermediality in video games in order to highlight media interactions. The purpose is to analyze some intermedia processes to illustrate how intermediality can create signification. The chapter is focused on the survival horror game Silent Hill 2 (Konami, 2001). More specifically, it is about, but not only, two protagonists: James Sunderland and Eddie Dombrowski. Analyses follow three different intermediality levels that can be applied in video games to get a better comprehension of it. The co-presence shows what is played between the media included in the game. The transfer has an interest to the links between video games and other objects in order to find how its language is created. Silent Hill 2, as a Japanese production, includes many Japanese symbols. The emergence reveals what creates the specific identity of the video game as a medium by observing the interactions between the different media composing it.
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Kristeva (1974) defines intertextuality as “the transposition from a system of signs to another” (p. 59). It means showing influences found in a text and its relations with other texts. The notion of intertextuality allows the development of a different approach in text analysis. Following this emerging path, in the late 90s, this new kind of perspective needed a new term, a word referring not exclusively to a “text”. So academics chose the words intermedia (Higgins, 1967) and then intermediality. As Vos (2005) explains, Higgins uses intermedia to refer to: “[works] in which the materials of various more established art forms are conceptually fused rather than merely juxtaposed.” (p. 325)

Intermediality is generally theorized through concepts of intertextuality. However the term “intermediality” led academics to consider cultural objects in a different way. Thus it was, at the time, acknowledged to segment art works into different media phenomena in order to analyze them separately (Müller, 2000). Intermedial references suggest a crossing of media borders and medial inter-actions. Another difference is that intermediality sets itself apart from intertextuality by insisting on technological, media, and social elements, as well as the historical context associated with the object studied. It is important to consider the content of the analyzed artifact, its meaning, and how this content is used (Gumbrecht, 2003). Intermediality, in some way, takes place between media and can’t be confused with interartiality. The latter is being limited to the reconstruction of artistic links:

The sustained success and growing international recognition of the concept of intermediality, therefore, point less to new types of problems per se than (at least potentially) to new ways of solving problems, new possibilities for presenting and thinking about them, and to new, or at least to different views on medial border-crossing and hybridization ; in particular, they point to a heightened awareness of the materiality of artistic and of cultural practices in general. (Rajewski, 2005, pp. 43-44)

Rajewski (2005) explains that intermediality is “more widely applicable than previous used concepts, opening up for relating the most varied of disciplines” (p. 44). Intermedial analyses allow to understand how aesthetic experiences are used to connect different media together. Each medium uses a specific language and interacts with others in order to reach a consistent and understandable result. Each medium does not exist “beside” but “with” other different media discourses. Krämer (2003) considers that “[i]ntermediality is an epistemological condition of media-recognition [Medienerkenntnis]” (p. 82) while Müller (2000) explains about the conditions to become an intermedia:

A media product becomes intermedia when it transposes the multimedia side by side, the media quotations system in a conceptual complicity whose aesthetic ruptures and stratifications open other ways to experience. Then rebuilding intermedia relations is one of the interests of science and the media and semiotics history. (Müller, 2000, p. 113)

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the relationship of two characters through the scope of intermediality. Knowing that media discourses interactions can allow the player to live powerful and sensitive narrative experiences, we will try to observe how game designers choose to put all of these intermedial interactions together.

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