Direct it

Direct it - Arcade games as a qulitative urban weave
EURAU 12 Public Space and Contemporary City
European Symposium on Research in Architecture and Urban Design


This paper investigates the representation of the urban environment through the technologically mediated world of videogames. More specifically, the individual’s experience of the city is investigated by collecting a series of observations concerning the digital visualization of urban phenomena as well as the public, symbolic identity of distinct city elements through the ‘player-as-citizen’ point of view.
The idea of space in videogames is regarded as an exceptional, fully potential dynamic of contemporary design evolution. Videogames offer the possibility or reconstructing realities, desires and collective experiences of either existent or non-existent places. In this sense, they can also broaden our sense of city-making. Drawing from earlier game generations of video games, namely arcade games, city representations are commented and projected towards corresponding contemporary ludology scenarios, always keeping track of spatiality and interactivity spectrums.
The analysis includes processes of overall observation, data collection, typical classification and conceptual organization of the results. The final process refers to the representative mechanisms that inhere in videogame worlds concerning the city; not only its image visualization or its architecture references but also its rules, its ambiance as well as its mnemonic elements.
The virtual identity of the city does not solely exist in a discontiguous electronic video-world, but it interferes or sometimes coincides with every individual’s sense of history, memory and personal projection of physical experiences – vacillating back and forth a projection threshold, which is often discussed in terms of ‘immersion’ in digital environments.
The digital territory is explored through terms of urbanity which are translated in audiovisual language, narrative embedding or storytelling and interaction points of the player’s habitability reference. The outcome is a conceptual categorization of digitally represented cities through a series of qualitative factors, such as supervision, encapsulation, navigation, subsidence and penetration.
These spatial qualities are basically phenomena that indicate the representation and understanding of urban landscapes in the world of videogames; they constitute a sense of play ‘direction’ that weaves them into our perception regarding the ‘making of the city’.