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Poetic discourse in videogames

Even though ludologists suggest that in the videogames studies film theory, like narratology, semiology and some other theories, should be narrowed down and functionally subordinated to the ludic aspect, this paper builds on an assumption that film theory is applicable to some types and some aspects or segments of videogames. Unlike films, where the viewer has to discern the type of film discourse and the kind of attention the particular film calls for, so as to understand what is important for the film’s meaning; in videogames the activities of the user/viewer are governed foremost by the rules of the game. It is partly because of that pragmatic functionality that possibilities of visual presentation in videogames are limited and less fluid in comparison to those found in film. On the other hand, the predetermination of scenes and their sequential nature allow for the discussion of cinematic discourse in relation to videogames, even though videogame discourse sharply differs from that in film. In other words, scene parameters in videogames are determined by both game rules and assets of cinematic discourse. From four modes of cinematic discourse – description and narration (scenic discourses) and argumentation and poetic discourse (interpretive discourses) – the poetic one seems to be the most arguable and least present, even in non-interactive, cinematic segments of games. Games demand activity that is opposite to poetic, contemplative moods – constant activity, incessant reactions on visual surroundings. However, examples laid out in this paper and their analysis show that poetic mode of cinematic discourse is present in videogame kinematics, and that poetization (“poeticizing” = adding poetic values to the other types of discourse, mostly description and narration), can be recognized even in interactive, playable segments of videogames. Example of poetic mode of cinematic discourse in this paper is taken from the opening cinematic of Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer 6, which is compared to the short experimental films of Norman McLaren, and from Blade Runner (Virgin Interactive, 1997), game based on Ridley Scott’s 1982 film.

Ilija Barišić

The concept of poetic discourse
How to understand experimental film – cognitive approach
Poetization in music videos by Michel Gondry

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