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Putting the player back in their place: Spatial analysis from below

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Though theorists have long regarded spatiality as an essential facet of the videogame, the figure of the player has been largely absent from this research. In the language of Michel de Certeau, videogame space is theorized as ‘from above’, and outside of the direct experience of the player. Therefore, this article seeks to re-place the figure of the player as central within a theoretical schema of videogame space, and gesture towards the study of videogame space ‘from below’. Through the theoretical framework provided by de Certeau, we can understand the player in space as more prone to error, appropriation and unintended movements through videogame diegeses. The player is comparable to de Certeau’s city walker, and theory which instead finds itself at the perspective of the bureaucrat, looking down on the videogame ‘from above’, can never fully account for the player. This article will examine the possibilities of spatial analysis ‘from below’.
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Keywords: Portal; cities; strategies; tactics; videogame space; walking

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Melbourne

Publication date: June 1, 2013

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  • The Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds focuses on theoretical and applied, empirical, critical, rhetorical, creative, economic and professional approaches to the study of electronic games across platforms and genres as well as ludic and serious online environments.
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