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Videogames and American Society: America's disposition toward virtual environments and hyperreality

Videogames have existed for nearly thirty years. In those years, the associated industry has grown from small enterprises to a multi-billion dollar industry. Software sales for the USA amount to more than 7 billion dollars for the year 2003.1 Research analysts estimate this figure will dramatically rise in the coming years. Furthermore, the Forrester research institute predicts that in 2005, more than 70% of American homes will have a video game console. In 2001, this figure was nearly 50% (49 million).2 These figures indicate that electronic entertainment industry at least equals the motion picture industry in size and revenue. It can be expected that this new industry will eventually have the same influence on American society as the motion picture industry currently has.

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Preface When I was very young, my parents used to tell me bedtime stories, giving me my first experience with imaginary and alternate worlds. My first encounter with videogames occurred much later, when I was about ten years of age. The leading department store in my hometown had set up large displays, and gave potential customers the ability to try this new mode of entertainment. It was unlike anything else I had experienced in my short life. The ability to control another entity (albeit in the rudimentary shape of a colored square) in a completely different reality blew me away. Although a comparison with the imaginary worlds of the fairy tales I knew might prove too much for some people, I felt that they overlapped in certain areas. Both offered similar forms of alternate realities, with one method using the processing power of the mind, and the other method using the power of the machine. These forms came together when I played my first textual adventure in the late eighties. Machine-driven texts supplemented with mental imagination married controlled interactivity with an imaginary reality. During the nineties, computer networks allowed multiple people to simultaneously share the same intangible environment. Better processing power eliminated the need for imagination as the texts became graphical representations. These graphically rich environments were also networked. At the same time, it seemed that new communication methods were introduced every 6 months. Using not a few features of videogames (modes of presentation, control schemas, and network capabilities), the boundaries between real and imaginary realities began to blur. We are at the threshold of a new communication revolution. This revolution is not so much driven through technological methods of communication, but through the new methods of representation. Man and machine have become entwined, married to each other in their quest for immediate communication. When such a symbiosis occurs, who can tell what is real and what is not? More to the point, does it even matter? Here's to Dariel, White Russian, Dr. Murko, and Mark Baskerville, who all depict some facet of myself. They are all digital clones, yet they are all so different. My gratitude goes to Professor Doctor W.M. Verhoeven for his patience and knowledge. He gave me the opportunity to finish this last academic hurdle in what proved to be a difficult year. Y. was instrumental in guiding me through this project. I owe more to her than I care to admit. A lot of accolades go to my friends and family for feedback and support. Many hours have been spent discussing the vague definitions of perceived reality. A final thanks goes to the big H., for making this effort possible. And, of course, all errors are entirely my own. Mark Murkes, September 2004 5

International thesis/dissertation

Autore: Mark Murkes Contatta »

Composta da 55 pagine.


Questa tesi ha raggiunto 215 click dal 14/02/2007.

Disponibile in PDF, la consultazione è esclusivamente in formato digitale.