You can download The Avatar Comics at site Kindle for digital copies, You can also get DOWNLOAD ALL AVATAR COMIC SERIES BELOW. 1. AVATAR SMOKE AND SHADOW PART 1 PDF · AVATAR THE PROMISE PART 2 PDF. Avatar: The Last Airbender has 31 entries in the series. Publishing Author ( ). cover image of The Legend of Korra: The Art of the Animated Series Book 3. Avatar the Last Airbender - The Promise Part 1 - Free download as PDF File .pdf ) or read online for free. Avatar the Last Airbender - The Promise Part 1.
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An alternative open source is available; see MediaWiki2LaTeX. For Help with downloading a Wikipedia page as a PDF, see Help:Download as PDF. NORM. Grace Augustine is a legend. She's the head of the Avatar Program, and she wrote the book -- I mean literally wrote the book -- on Pandoran botany. The Avatar: The Last Airbender comics are a continuation of the original Nickelodeon animated television series, Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Avatar draws us into the beautiful and exciting world of Pandora, with its fantastic locations and its exotic and dangerous creatures. The experience of watching Avatar in 3D is like looking into a cabinet of curiosities, a pastime that was particularly popular during the Victorian era. Avatar 's incredible special effects make Pandora seem as believable and real as our everyday world.
Most of the creatures and plants of Pandora, including the Na'vi, are designed using computers. These digital special effects deliver a level of detail far beyond what was possible before computers started creating alien worlds and their inhabitants. Avatar offers an ecological warning, telling us that something is going terribly wrong on planet Earth and encouraging us to be kind to our planet. A phenomenological view of Avatar allows us to see how its special effects can have a positive influence on how we view our own world.
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As long as the author is able to express herself within the existing framework of tools she has mastered; and still experience the creative joy when reconfiguring, readjusting, and polishing well-known solutions; there is no need for major innovations or far-reaching experiments with the digital material.
Its separateness from the mainstream discourse of the digital games industry is expressed in the belief of the value of uniqueness and creative joy. It also accents the value of mastery, and the importance of democratic access to tools encouraging amateurs to experiment.
Within the discourse of the digital artisans, games are considered to be a form of self-expression, a means of self-determination, or even tools of self-transformation for the artisan struggling with digital matter. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the poet and theorist of romantic creation, believed that the manner of operation and power of the imagination are individual cases.
As far as everyone is given a germ of imagination, only the chosen ones are able to use its possibilities according to their own will. They are the ones who can make their own experiences of the world not only meaningful, but also artistically formed. The scope of the romantic imagination is even more pervasive than the power of the intellect, judgement or memory. As Mary Warnock points out: Coleridge , The essence of the imaginative experience can be named the authorial vision, which synthesises its heterogeneity.
The imagination is then capable of ennobling the wholeness of the created artefact, as well as encapsulating its meaning in one symbol, emblem, or item. The thread of the romantic imagination can be traced in utterances of game creators. It constitutes the key part of the discourse of the authors, who I will call the guardians of the vision. Within this perspective, the imagination is a power of extracting and clarifying the authorial, synthesising vision, as well as enclosing it in the digital analogon Sartre , — The imagination is the faculty that gives rise to the vision that emerges from the wholeness, as well as from every single element of the playable artefact.
The Guardians of the Vision 27 Following the Vision Coleridge argued that the imagination is able to work in all aspects of life, as it shapes the way human beings experience the world. However, how can one connect the power of the creative imagination with the actual work of art? And, analogically, how can the vision be translated into the playable artefact, and how can meaning be enclosed in the digital matter?
Gaston Bachelard; while explaining his poetics of reverie, and differentiating it from the poetics of poetry; warned that the realisation of the vision into the poem happens to be very long: He writes that the latter — just the same as painting or sculpture — depends on images and sounds rather than on the meaning of words.
It tunes the consciousness into the imaginative mode, turns it into irreality, and averts it from the world. In the poem, the word hence becomes a thing: This distinction echoes the Sartrean dichotomy, as expressed in What is Literature?
But there is nothing in common between these two acts of writing except the movement of the hand which traces the letters. Analogically, the playable poetry can be considered a single but powerful imagining, enclosed in the form of a digital artefact that gradually unfolds aspects of the vision.
The Nature of the Artefact In order to describe the material of the creative process, Sartre uses the notion of analogon Sartre , —89 2. The term was coined in order to distinguish between the imaginary, intentional way of being of the artwork, which is irreality Sartre , , and its pre-digital material basis; the analogon enabling other people to perceive the artwork. In order to clarify the difference between the analogon and the image, Sartre gives an example of the painting that is spotlighted by the lamp located on the wall, next to the frame: In fact the painter did not realize a mental image at all, but simply constituted a material analogon such that anyone can grasp that image if only they gaze at the analogon.
But the image thus provided with an external analogon remains an image. Ingarden , — The Guardians of the Vision 29 I will argue that the difference between the precious authorial vision, that exists beyond the compass of reality, and its digital analogon, can be tracked in the discourse of the guardians of the vision..
In consequence, the activity of the guardian of the vision consists of directing the team constructing the analogon — the computer game with all its components — in order to make it as truthful to the vision as possible, to give it the power to evoke a certain imaginary synthesis; a meaningful world encapsulated in the artefact.
According to them, the crucial task of the designer is the creation of a consistent — albeit general — vision of the whole game. For example, in The Graveyard, the core activity is a walk through the cemetery Tale of Tales The gameworld is in black and white, and this lack of colour adds the charm of the old movie or photography to the game.
Tale of Tales Its goal is reaching the bench standing next to the chapel. Walking is evidently a hard task for the old avatar: The camera is fixed to the avatar.
The simplicity and context of this core activity makes this experience remarkable. As Samyn writes in the post-mortem of the game: A deer in a forest. An old lady in a graveyard. This total experience is sought by extending the core activity only with necessary elements — with nothing that could sway the player from the unifying vision. Analogically to the human being; who makes her existence meaningful in the course of her life by making her existential project concise; the guardian of the vision attempts to make the artefact present the world as focused on a single perception of her invention.
This emblem is a point of reference for the entire designed artefact. The leitmotif was illustrated by the portrait of two running teenagers holding hands, and constitutes a crucial part of the gameplay. Cover art of Ico drawn by Ueda. He explains that the creation consists of choosing from many excessive elements created by the team.
This strategy resembles the anecdote concerning Michelangelo Buonarroti, who sensed a figure of David enclosed in the block of marble. His role was to chip off the redundant fragments of stone: By studying the raw marble, examining the patter, he could sense where the figure stand. What remains in power at the end of the subtractive process are these moments of the artefact, which depict the authorial vision in the most condensed way.
Therefore, instead of making the gameworld represent the everyday world; which is absurd and contains a surplus of possibilities that can never be fully realised Camus ; it offers a concrete composition with clear aesthetic form.
Contrary to presenting technical fireworks, the artefact is characterised by consistency and a perfect finish. The aim of the guardians of the vision is then to enclose in the artefact the archetypical experience — an emblem or activity.
The Guardians of the Vision 33 of the guardians of the vision; following one picture, gesture, or idea that is intended to shape the gameworld becomes the central point and leitmotif of the whole project, which shapes the bond of the author and the artefact. From this point of view, the artefact is the form of playable poetry; and the creative act results in the object, which embodies the vision.
Who is the Poet? The discourse of the guardians of the vision gives the author of the game the role of architect or director, conducting the team of performers. The guardian of the vision is then keeping watch over the group executing her plans. However — in contrast with the digital artisan, who values her solo creation — she is not engaging directly with every aspect of the artefact.
The belief in the individual character of every imagination is the consecutive point, which connects the discussed discourse with the point of view represented by the romantic poets. For both of them, individualism is the key value. As Maurice Bowra points out: The poets were conscious of a wonderful capacity to create imaginary worlds, and they could not believe that this was idle or false.
On the contrary, they thought that to curb it was to deny something vitally necessary to their whole being. The guardian of the vision is an unquestionable leader of her team due to the combination of the role of the director with the need for strong individuality. They advise a prospective guardian of the vision as follows: The wise dictators let the other team members execute their part of the job. The Form Despite their strong individualities, authors of playable artefacts are not creating in a cultural vacuum.
Their imagination — just as the imagination of poets, painters, or mystics — is situated, and in consequence, fulfilled with images that constitute the tradition they belong to.
It means that the Christian mystic will not have visions riddled with the Buddhist symbolism Cf. Scholem Analogically, the guardian of the vision works with a certain range of conventions, narrative solutions, audio-visual preferences, and variety of mechanics of the game. However, the creative part of the job is to misimagine them; i. Bloom ; Kania , According to Bachelard, the intrinsic element of the process of poetic imagining is the intention of describing the vision.
Therefore, the poetic vision is already imagined in words; it is neither put into words, nor represented by them. The vision of the author of the playable artefact will then include the functionality of the artefact - not only its emotional or visual components. How then does the discourse of the guardians of the vision present the way the individual imagining can be translated into the field of games; which is highly conventional, and divided into genres?
The stances of Ueda and Tale of Tales differ at this point. Clinamen From the observations of Ueda, one can deduce that the new vision of the artefact is not emerging from the non-being.
The Guardians of the Vision 35 it is an innovation which alters the conventions of the particular genre, or an illustrious variation on already-known motives. However, for the ancient philosophers, clinamen was the incidental inflection of the course of its falling, which was the cause of all changes in the universe, while Bloom concentrated on the romantic understanding of the term which was proposed by Coleridge Coleridge , This form of clinamen refers to the individuality and particularity of the human being Bloom , Bloom himself proposed clinamen as the first sign of the creative personality, which causes the swerve from the traditional imagery, and leads — in a couple of hard steps — to the shaping of the independent, strong poet Bloom However, due to its originality, this creation will mark the tradition with its uniqueness.
Tale of Tales opts for experimentation with real-time 3D game technology in order to break free from conventions. Despite addressing their creations to the players and calling them games — alternatively notgames3 — they value a radical break from genres, and solutions preserved by the commercial game industry.
Harvey and Samyn In their own manifesto, they proclaim the new art should break with the past and abandon conventions and genres, exactly like the surrealists and the futurists did before — paradoxically — by continuing the tradition of artistic manifestos initiated by the Romantics Breton ; Marinetti ; Wordsworth ; Kania In their later formulations, the Tale of Tales resign their revolutionary tone for the sake of agitating, for the recovery of aesthetic values, and means of expression specific to the pre-modernist arts.
They proclaim: They describe their new approach in The Beautiful Art Program: Within the presented perspective, the ideal goal would therefore be the creation of playable art. The main issue of the discourse of the guardians of the vision is that the creative process takes place mainly in the head of the imaginative individual; and, in consequence, is out of touch with the down-to-earth teamwork that creates the digital block of marble discussed above.
This feature of the discourse gives the impression that the development on the digital artefact is not as important as its design.
The artefact itself is considered to be the incarnation, or analogon of the vision of the meaningful, aesthetically shaped world. The Guardians of the Vision 37 is also individuality — or even individualism — of creators, whose goal is the modification of the existing tradition Ueda , or even its creative negation Tale of Tales.
The discourse I attempted to outline above is concentrated on the realisation of the authorial vision, in the form of an artistically coherent and synthetic wholeness executed by the team selected by the visionary.
The guardian of the vision undertakes the task of exploration of her vision, and attempts to crave its ideal form in the digital matter. Therefore, within the discourse of the guardians of the vision, a game is described by the triad of relation with the visionary, the player, and existing games that create the canon; i. The artefact is then a vehicle for the vision enclosed in the digital medium. The Digital Orators In the following pages, I will provide an overview of the well-known and widely discussed discourse of procedural rhetorics.
The discourse of the digital orators diverges from the ones previously discussed by highlighting the potential for ideological influence possessed by computer games. In consequence, it focuses on the repeatable impact that the computer game is expected to have on the player, rather than underlining the importance and uniqueness of the relation between the artefact and its creator. I am going to compare and contrast it with the approaches presented in the two previous chapters.
They considered the making of computer games to be a creative practice, which can be aptly described in terms borrowed from discourses of arts or artisanry. In contrast, the procedural rhetorics focuses on the difference between the existing forms of argumentation, in order to present procedurality as a persuasive feature exclusive to digital games. She coined it in her most famous book, Hamlet on the Holodeck, in order to distinguish the creative endeavours of players within the gameworlds from the efforts undertaken by authors responsible for a whole environment.
She explains that: It means establishing the properties of the objects and potential objects in the virtual world and the formulas for how they will relate to one another. However, while highlighting the role of algorithms, behaviours of the system, and rules governing digital representations, they pointed out at different creative area; namely, on argumentation. Bogost claims that the meaning — which for Murray was emerging from the text presented in the rhythm of programmed procedure — is hidden in the sole procedure.
In order to underline this fact, while examining the procedural rhetorics, I will name the authors the digital orators. The playable artefact is then considered to be a compound of the procedural representation, i.
When approached connectedly, they make the persuasive system. As long as for the guardians of the vision the key element of the designed artefact was its relation to authorial vision and its emotional dimension; and for the digital artisans the most important was the personal involvement in the created computer game; for the digital orators the playable artefact is primarily the argument, deriving its power from the systemic representation Bogost , vii , or simulation Frasca , While tracking the differences between prose and poetry, Sartre points out that: The aesthetic function of this kind of utterance is secondary; as long as it is able to clearly represent and make the reading compelling, as well as appeal to the perceiver in order to make them aware of certain problems.
The main goal is, hence, the representation of one process by the other process, in logical and abstract form of system of interdependencies. However, Bogost does not focus on the theme or scope of the persuasive power of games, but on their sole ability to present argumentation as a working procedure.
Therefore, they present a certain worldview, and their function is to dispel myths and debunk beliefs, as seen from the point of view of their creators. Within the discussed discourse, the activity of game creators is concentrated on highlighting real problems, and on criticism that is intended to change the existing state of matters. By making an issue explicit, the artefact is designed in order to force the player to take a stance towards the problems it represents; to wilfully and consciously hold her foregoing point of view, or to change her perspective.
The practitioners acting within the discourse of the digital orators are molleindustria: As Paolo Pedercini, the founder of molleindustria, said in an interview: The same words could be ascribed to Sartre, who in claimed that the writer — the proser or the publicist — can never remain neutral: If you name the behaviour of an individual, you reveal it to him; he sees himself.
Either he will persist in his behaviour out of obstinacy and with full knowledge of what he is doing, or he will give it up. Thus, by speaking, I reveal the situation by my very intention of changing it; I reveal it to myself and to others in order to change it. However, by stating this strong and ujustified argument, istead of revealing issues that should be addressed, he appears to create a false dichotomy in the current media landscape in order to establish a purpose for digital arguments.
In his anarchistic manifesto, he declares the willingness to destroy the dominant discourse of the video games industry by the practice of: Therefore, the discourse features the: Foster a debate involving the galaxies of media- activism, software and net art, regular gamers and their fiercest detractors. The Digital Orators 43 The Critical Voices As long as the discourse of the procedural rhetorics is one of the most recognisable amongst the creators of digital games, the approach of the digital orators is often a subject of criticism.
Such a strongly set thesis makes procedural rhetorics the subject of criticism. This line of counter argumentation is enforced by the fact that in his book Bogost mainly interprets artefacts designed for explicitly stated purposes; e. In this type of playable artefacts, the audiovisuals are perceived as meaningful before the persuasive process begins, and before the player actually has a chance to recognise her situatedness within the gameworld. Aarseth argues against proceduralism by claiming that the procedure itself cannot be a medium of meaning, as it can simulate anything when it is devoid of the audiovisual and narrative layers.
Therefore, the discourse of the digital orators can be received with the same enthusiasm by the anticapitalistic molleindustria, and by the creators of advergames. Their assumptions remain similar, while the goal of argumentation is directed the opposite way. The extreme stance is hard to defend; however, it makes the digital rhetorics widely present.
I therefore think that the discourse of the digital orators as a perspective of authors of digital games, enables to highlight the formal, logical and technical side of creation. Conclusions The discourses of the digital artisans, the guardians of vision, and the digital orators; while approaching the artefact from the external perspective; present very different takes on the situatedness of creators of digital games.
Moreover, they significantly change in perceiving the meaning of the created works. In order to condense the first part of the book, in the following table I have delineated the key elements which define the distinctiveness of the presented discourses: The discourse of design: The Digital Orators 45 The discourse of design: Therefore, this kind of consistency is determined by the point of reference external to the process itself.
In the discourse of the digital artisans, the author considers herself to be a one-man band; joyfully carving her personal, expressive object from the digital matter. While in the discourse of the digital orators, the author is expected to create a plausible procedure, the aptness of the argument is primarily dependent on its representation in the functions of the game.
The above juxtaposition constitutes the basis to sketching a comparison of scope of the authorial autonomy within the outlined discourses. The romantic visionary perceives herself as separated from the world, but able to share her original creation and make it understandable; while highly skilled orators are ascribed a capability to rationally and argumentatively shape the public sphere. The next point to collate is the scope of the creative process ascribed to the author within the discussed discourses.
For the guardians of the vision, it is the process of direction of imaginary performance, and creation of the emotionally compelling analogon; while with regard to the digital artisan, it is a set of experiments and exploration of the digital matter, as well as a form of self-reflection based on creative activity.
On the other hand, for the digital orators, it stems from the analysis of the problem and the system which governs the state of things, and its critical translation into the authored program. In addition, the connection between the artefact and its external context is perceived disparately within all three discourses. For the digital orators, the most important is reference to the represented process and is oriented on its consequences, i.
For the guardians of the vision, the reference system is the imagination of the author and her envisioned intentional object; while for the digital artisan, what is most significant is the process of creation: The reflective turn enables them to delineate why it is important to make digital games from the perspective of their authors, and how the creators reflect over their own activity. In consequence, the playable artefact, just like any other object, can never be approached just as itself, as abstracted from the particular situatedness it co-creates.
As long as the artefact is always considered in relation to the individual, and approached as created, perceived, played Leino , or understood, I think that questions regarding the identity or non-identity of the object lose their critical power. What is explored here is situatedness of the individual towards the phenomenon she approaches.
Part 2. I will start by discussing the methodological problem of the research perspective that occurs in studies on game aesthetics, while elaborating on the difference between the aesthetics focused on the playable artefact from the external perspective, and which does not refer to the internal point of view; i. As long as the former presents its method, object, and results as independent from the position of the researcher, the latter exposes the importance of making explicit the subjective situatedness towards the artefact, which cannot be considered as abstracted from the situation.
From the perspective of the involved aesthetics, the researcher approaching the game with avatar gets acquainted with the artefact while adopting the position of an agent; i. Therefore, the claim for objectivism - as well as conclusions about the abstract nature of the artefact - is based on the subjective position of the self-avatar established by, and experienced within, the particular gameworld.
I will therefore argue that the objectifying aesthetics diminish the salience of the fact that it relies on the gameplay situation, while making claims about the artefact. In consequence, I will outline an intermediary perspective based on reflection over the existential situatedness within the gameworld.
Existential Situatedness and Features of an Artefact From the point of view of existential phenomenology and aesthetics, the research area does not concern experiences of the others, even if we are able to empirically observe and record them. Moreover, multiplication — intersubjectivity or the replicability of these experiences within the research group — does not validate any hypothetical existential experiment. As a result of this, the most important question can be formulated as follows: Consequently, my understanding of being a player is anchored in my own existence.
The world is then also always perceived form inside Heidegger , 81—82 [55—56]; Sartre , 3—4. I am the being-in-the-world; therefore my agency is framed by this world and my situatedness within it Sartre , How can I do it?
According to Heidegger: Considering this approach of external objectification, the artefact is ready-to-hand, and its manipulability discovered in the process of using it constitutes a basis for claims about the artefact itself.
As an artefact, it can be ascribed certain features; e. This player-researcher, Aarseth writes: However, I think that the position of the researcher approaching the game from the angle of the objectifying aesthetics is based on the situatedness learned from the internal perspective and within circumstances created by the gameworld that, in turn, is considered to be a source of knowledge about the artefact as functioning in an external cultural context.
The position of the implied player is then determined by the form of the artefact; hence, it is a default stance the player is proposed to take. Moreover, as Leino pointed out Leino a , because of glitches and bugs within an artefact, as well as strategies of playing unforeseen by its designers Cf. Furthermore, when the researcher shifts her perspective from the artefact to her own performance, the problem of identity of the studied area arises. Therefore, I will try to outline the different solution from the phenomenological point of view.
Introducing the Involved Aesthetics While approaching the involved aesthetics as distinct from the objectifying aesthetics, I seek conditions of experience as they are shaped within the gameplay situation; i.
From the in-game perspective, I can describe these experiences as a result of the cooperation between the self-avatar and the gameworld; that is, as a gameplay situation.
While answering questions concerning what I experience, how I experience it, and how motivated I am while playing, I can lead an existential analysis of the gameplay situation that takes place when the gameworld is experienced from the internal perspective. I would like to underline that claims grounded in this perspective do not concern the objective nature of the examined object.
On the contrary, the playable artefact is here considered to be an intentional object; i. I think that this particular perspective enables the researcher to understand the experiential dimension of the gameplay situation, and provides her with tools that enable her to distinguish it from transgressive play; which is what seems to be missing from the objectifying aesthetics. Moreover, the involved aesthetics provides the player with the experiential perspective that enables her to reflect over herself within a game, as well as over her own situatedness within the gameworld; i.
Who is experiencing the gameworld as an inhabited world; as a world they live in? These questions concern a world that establishes the gameplay situation for the self-avatar; the stance she cannot exit as long as she wants to play.
I would like to point out that while experiencing the game as a ludic subject, one is able to set their own goals within the gameworld to some degree, varying from game to game.
Therefore, as long as outlining the subjective position seems to be necessary, it is not sufficient to distinguish the gameplay situation from other forms of interaction with the gameworld.
Hitherto, one more important element of the jigsaw is still missing. Vella points out that: However, I think that my own being-in-the-gameworld can be reflectively understood from inside. It can be approached from the point of view of the aesthetic situation, as a form of auto-reflection over the self-avatar as being in the gameplay situation. The departure point for outlining the gameplay situation therefore entails a consideration of the conditions for experience and performance of the self-avatar, instead of the features and functions of the artefact.
In view of this, I define the self-avatar as a subjective position that enables cognition of the particular gameworld from the point of view of the gameplay situation. It is analogical to the ludic subject as long as it is a figure that is intended to capture how the subjective position shapes the cognition of the player in terms of existential philosophy. However, as I will argue in the next chapter, it can be auto-reflectively recognised as an aesthetic form in light of the in-game aesthetic situation.
From the point of view of the external position — built upon the involved one, which makes it different from the objectifying aesthetics — the self-avatar can be recognised as an aesthetic object that can be interpreted within a wider cultural context.
All three perspectives interrelate; hence they can shape experience within each of them, as well as of each other.
On Involved Aesthetics and Objectifying Aesthetics In order for it to be understood, the experience within the game needs to be reinterpreted from the points of view outlined by different types of situatedness.
I believe that the analogical difference was mapped by Paul de Man in his discussion of the bias between rhetoric as practice of the acts of persuasion, and rhetoric as a system of tropes that can be recognised only as a set of these acts Man , — He makes the aporetic observation; the act can take place exclusively within the system, however, acts are a foundation of the system.
Therefore, the system conceals its own source; i. This paradox makes the artefact dubiously independent from both the acts performed within the gameworld, and its existence as a culturally engaged text as it participates in multiple discourses.
In light of this, the key to outlining the philosophical importance of the distinction between the involved aesthetics and the objectifying aesthetics entails the exposition of the passage from the experience of throwness into the gameworld, to the interpretation of the game from the external perspective.
How are the two positions connected with each other from the point of view of the involved aesthetics? As the external perspective relates to the interpretation of the game as text, it is anyway given to the player in her particular reading. By considering subjectivity, this form of external perspective formulate claims on concretization Ingarden , objectified as an imaginative wholeness, and has the potential to reveal the position of the interpreter towards the game.
In other words, a game perceived from the external point of view is approached as a text subjected to reinterpretations performed by particular players. When she reflects over her own position, she can undertake the existential and aesthetical analysis of the gameplay situation from the perspective of the in-game aesthetic situation. In turn, from the external point of view of the involved aesthetics, the game is considered to be a completed concretization that can be subjected to reinterpretations, and this way related to other existing texts.
Leino ; Leino ; Vella The in-game situatedness is revealed in the interplay of the in-game perspectives, consisting of the gameplay situation and the aesthetic situation; and the external point of view that enables the player to refer to her cultural literacy.
Sartre , In order to characterise the two types of situatedness that shape relations between the self-avatar and the gameworld, I will subsequently focus on the internal point of view, and follow a thread of digital game research linked to the involved perspective. I argue that in order to consider the gameworld as open for interpretation from the in-game perspective, the two experiential positions of the self-avatar need to be closely examined.
For this purpose, I will elaborate on a gameplay situation and an aesthetic situation, which have been roughly sketched out in the previous chapter. The two in-game subjective positions emerge collaterally, and often condition each other as lived in and as being beyond the particular situation. I would like to underline that in both the crucial element is the self-avatar perceived as situated within the gameworld. The gameworld can be defined as the existential, spatiotemporal environment of the in-game life as experienced from the perspective of the gameplay situation; while from the perspective of the aesthetic situation, the gameworld is the anticipated wholeness of the intentional object that the self-avatar expects to concretize by co-shaping the gameplay situation.
In a gameplay situation; which I will define by recontextualising the Sartrean notion of the situation; the self-avatar is pre-reflectively experienced as the self within the gameworld. Heidegger , . However, this structure itself is not abandoned when it is reflected upon. Oppositely, the object of this aesthetic situation is not the artefact as grasped from the external point of view, but the aestheticized gameworld; the world that is already thought as perceived from the perspective of the self-avatar.
In consequence, the aesthetic situation can be characterised as an attempt to grasp the gameplay situation and to reinterpret it. The main purpose of this perspective is including, exposing and re uniting the issue of the subjective stance within a gameworld; and pointing out the aesthetic situation that is primarily established as internal to the aesthetic object by reflection over the gameworld as it is perceived by the self-avatar.
Therefore, in this chapter I am not interested in the game as an object that is manipulated and interacted with, or read and understood from the external perspective; but in the aesthetic object that is established by, through and for the self-avatar, which at the same time is a central part of the established concretization. In consequence, the self-avatar, as a part of this concretization, is co-shaped by herself.
The Gameplay Situation According to Sartre, an individual is nothingness. They emerge as being amongst other beings, and are always tied to the world they are thrown into. Moreover, this is the situation which makes an individual the particular person.
Therefore, the existential situation covers the condition of subjectivity, its attitude toward this world, and its major feature; i. Sartre , , and which makes it unique. Characteristics of the situation provided by Sartre in Being and Nothingness can be encapsulated in the following remarks: Sartre , — The Sartrean characteristics of the situation are focused on the observation that it is the factor changing significantly due to shifts of the subjective point of view, approach, existential project, or even the mood of the individual.
The Gameplay Situation and the Aesthetic Situation 63 because it potentially has ground-breaking properties, while the second is interested in patents and business opportunities connected with this discovery.
Analogically to the Sartrean description of the existential situation, I propose to define the gameplay situation as a system of interdependencies between a gameworld, a self-avatar, and a perceptual position of the self-avatar towards the gameworld, as they are perceived from the point of view of the self-avatar.
The first difference between the existential situation and the gameplay situation is then the status of an individual, which in the gameplay situation is strictly connected with the avatar. When the self-avatar enters a gameplay situation of a single-player computer game, she approaches the game as a world1; she emerges as being, amongst other beings, only while related to the world she is thrown into.
She learns and leads the existential project of in-game life. It makes the gameworld meaningful to her on an existential — as well as aesthetic — level. Therefore, the gameplay situation establishes the conditions of experience that provides the player with a preconceived understanding of the actions they need to perform in order to play the game; namely, a form of existential falling they have agreed upon when entering the gameplay situation.
I believe that even if the player tries to abandon the subjective position provided by the gameplay situation in order to establish her own personal existential projects and goals within the gameworld, her position is still built with regard to the gameplay situation and the existential project of the self-avatar.
For instance, in the hidden object puzzle adventure genre, the player is repeatedly reminded of the project she is expected to realise by sparkling areas within the rooms she explores, pop-ups providing hints about her goals, or even exact instructions on the next step she should perform in given circumstances.
Even if she does not follow any of these hints, the world continuously offers her friendly reminders of duties resulting from the position she is supposed to occupy.
Therefore, the self-avatar does not abandon the gameplay situation, but acts in defiance of it; as long as the general theme of the gameplay situation is playing this particular game. The process of meaning-making within the gameplay situation is then undertaken from the point of view of the self-avatar. Falling, as defined by Heidegger, is a mode of being when the subjectivity: As long as this falling of the self-avatar is unavoidable, the existential diagnosis loses its ethical overtones, and becomes a feature of the being-in-the-gameworld, as perceived from the point of view of the self-avatar2.
I believe that this particular perspective of the self-avatar, which the player adopts in the gameplay situation, is what enables it to be distinguished from other forms of interaction with the gameworld.
The Existential Meaning The understanding of the gameplay situation as a concrete totality of being-in-the-gameworld establishes its existential meaning, as it is pre-reflectively comprehended and experienced by the self-avatar.
In many models, this internal understanding is contrasted directly with reading the game as a text from the external perspective; e. However, these propositions do not consider subjective situatedness as a major determinant of understanding the game.
Moreover, the distinction I propose is threefold, as pointed out in the previous chapter. Therefore, the existential understanding of the game from the perspective of the gameplay situation can be grasped from the perspective of the in-game aesthetic situation that will shortly be sketched out.
The existential meaning is not based on representation, but on a subjective experience of meaningful action experienced as a suspension of freedom Cf. The source of this meaning are inauthentic modes of being, which provide the self-avatar with the conviction that all her endeavours within the gameworld are justified Cf.
Therefore, the phenomenal condition of the particular gameplay situation needs to be known by the player from being in, in order to be recognised as a point of departure for self-reflection, as considered to be a form of being beyond.
In light of this, I believe that the gameplay situation outlines the position of the self-avatar that constitutes a subjective stance reflected upon in the aesthetic situation. The wider understanding of the gameplay situation — or, as Sartre pointed out, of any situation — can be embraced in a movement of transition between being in and being beyond.
Therefore, as the gameplay situation makes the player participate in the game from the perspective of the self-avatar, which is determined by the in-game the They, they do not have any possibility to escape from it; but while they start to reflectively comprehend their subjective position as the self-avatar within a gameworld, they enter an aesthetic situation to embrace the gameplay from the position of being beyond.
The Gameplay Situation and the Aesthetic Situation 67 to indicate that it can be understood in terms of the pre-reflective consciousness of the subject in the gameplay situation, and reflective consciousness oriented towards the pre-reflective one: The immediate consciousness which I have of perceiving does not permit me either to judge or to will or to be ashamed. It does not know my perception, does not posit it; all that there is of intention in my actual consciousness is directed toward the outside, toward the world.
In turn, this spontaneous consciousness of my perception is constitutive of my perceptive consciousness. Sartre , liii. By definition, the aesthetic situation considers the subjective and objective elements that plays a role in the process of creation and perception of the work of art.
Here, I would like to concentrate exclusively on the section of the aesthetic situation, i. Ingarden , As long as he studied the most abstract and formal features of works of art, his formulations on the aesthetic situation opened the field for culturally and existentially-oriented studies on literature.
The Gameplay Situation and the Aesthetic Situation 69 As the aesthetic object needs to be actively maintained by the perceiver, the emerging potential aesthetic object is a result of acts of concretization, i.
Therefore, there is no aesthetic object as such that anyone can approach. Although an aesthetic object arises as the object of an aesthetic experience, it is at the same time an existentially separate object: The first one rises from within the game and reflects over the in-game position of the self-avatar, who realises their situatedness while perceiving the gameworld.
Hence, I will propose a consideration of the in-game aesthetic situation as based and built on the gameplay situation. However, two questions need to be answered here: The second question — which I will discuss at the beginning of the third part of the book — frames the game approached from the external perspective, when it is objectified and considered to be a text open for interpretation.
Rising from within The first difference between the aesthetic approach to a traditional work of art, which is the object of Ingardenian aesthetics, and a single player digital games with avatar as perceived from the in-game perspective, is the difference of the subjective position of the perceiver. Hence, the acts of concretization can be performed over the object, while the position of the self-avatar is situated within the concretized gameworld, and her reflection over her own activities within the gameworld takes account of her influence on the actual shape of this world8.
Even if one is immersed in other media or works of art Ryan , , these artefacts do not provide the perceiver with the experiential structure that would make them situated within the artefact, as long as the situatedness assumes the possibility of changing it from inside.
Moreover, they do not allow the perceiver to act within this experiential framework. Daniel Vella pointed out the possibility of acting within the aesthetic form as a distinctive feature of digital games. He writes that: However, I believe that the sentence quoted above connects two perspectives I would like to analyze separately: I argue that this situation needs to be differentiated from the moment when the subjective stance of the self-avatar is abandoned and the gameworld becomes objectified from the external perspective, which will be discussed in Chapter 3.
What, then, are the consequences of such a distinction? The Gameplay Situation and the Aesthetic Situation 71 to Ingardenian terms, what is concretized by the self-avatar in this in-game aesthetic situation? And what is the result of this concretization? I argue that in the in-game aesthetic situation the self-avatar reflectively addresses a form of her own subjectivity, and the actions she performs within it. She recognizes them as an aesthetic composition of phenomena; such as bad faith, spirit of seriousness, and adventure, perceived as elements of her situatedness within the anticipated wholeness of the gameworld, the worldliness of which is preserved, hence aestheticized by the act of reflection.
The concretization is then focused on fulfilling the undefined places of perceptual structures of the self-avatar; e. The self-avatar reflectively objectifies itself as the situated being in-the-gameworld; however, their situatedness as considered to be an aesthetic object cannot be equated with the game as a text considered from the external perspective, despite it constituting a basis for synthesis approached from the point of view external to the gameworld.
In consequence, from the point of view of existential philosophy, the gameworld does not need or even cannot be objectified, externalised, and transcended in order to capture its features. In consequence, the in-game aesthetic situation is the appointment of the self-avatar and the gameworld, when the self-avatar recognises herself as a part of the anticipated, imaginative, and aesthetically valuable wholeness.
Thereby, the Ingardenian notion of the aesthetic situation is one of the founding assumptions of involved aesthetics concerning single player computer games with avatar I would like to introduce. Being based on the engagement of the self-avatar in the gameplay situation, and reflection over their situatedness within the gameworld undertaken from the in-game perspective, it needs to be distinguished from the aesthetics of disinterestedness Cf.
Sartre , —76; J.
Sartre The aesthetics of disinterestedness considers the aesthetic stance as free, unrelated to any specific goal, and not interested in the existence or reality of the contemplated object considered to be separate from the perceiver; while Ingarden underlines the prevailingly active role of the perceiver in constituting the concretisation of the work of art, in co-creation of the way it can be perceived.
Moreover, he writes that: Therefore, the involved aesthetics shifts emphasis in order to ascribe to the aesthetic perception character of creation and cognition; to grasp it in its purposefulness, multidimensionality and tangled character. This approach results in the departure from a traditional understanding of the aesthetic as founded exclusively on the special value of the contemplated object, experiences caused by features of the object, or unusual perceptual stance; to the aesthetics of experience that is oriented in the phenomenological constitution of the aesthetic object, which is contextual and situational.
The Involved Aesthetics Revisited When arguing that the in-game reflection has the aesthetic character, I adhere to an understanding of the term borrowed from the existential aesthetics and its phenomenological precursors.
In consequence, the connection of these two spheres — existence and art — is crucial to my argument. In the gameworld, meaning is constituted by the interplay and reciprocal conditioning of the subjectivity of the self-avatar and gameworld, which includes an existential project of the self-avatar The situatedness towards the promise of the meaningful self and the meaningful world; the for-itself-in-itself that will satisfy the human desire of certainty; creates the point that needs to be fulfilled — or concretized.
In addition, Ingarden asserts that: In consequence, I would like to set a thesis that both art and falling into in-game the They can be fuelled by a drive for obtaining a certain shape of being, as opposed to continuously becoming Cf. Vella b. Dufrenne ; J. Sartre ; Deranty In the latter, the self-avatar considers her stance as determined and meaningful, purposeful and functional; while in the former, she reflectively focuses on the perceptual form of her own being-in-the-gameworld, the aesthetic features of the environment perceived from the certain perspective, and on the distance that emerges towards the position occupied during the gameplay.
Therefore, the game is not approached as a system that can be played with, but as a way in which the self-avatar is situated.
In the gameplay situation she experiences her in-game life, while in the aesthetic situation she can reflectively perceive the avatar as self and as the aesthetic object. While considering the avatar to be a self in the aesthetic situation, it appears to be a standpoint I can reflect upon, but cannot change or depart from. It is determined by the They one can tell apart from the existence, while: From this point of view, I discover the way how my being-in-the-gameworld is conditioned in the context of wider possibilities offered by the gameworld.
As long as the self-avatar becomes a part of the story, and participates in the aesthetical form of the gameworld she influences, she can consider the existential project outlined by the self-avatar to be the aesthetic project In order to summarize the two preceding chapters, in the following table I have delineated the key elements of previously disussed perspectives and situations: Sartre , 2: Due to the self-referential character of the game, the subjective position of the self-avatar within the complex gameworld of TBG is doubled.
In consequence, this particular game is not only an example illustrating my arguments, but it also presents the multi-layered situation of the self-avatar towards the game on its own rights. In consequence, the reflective form of TBG allows the highlighting of not only the relationship between the gameplay situation and the in-game aesthetic situation, but also the difference between the internal and external perspectives, as it is problematized by the game itself.
I argue that in TBG the self-avatar is thrown into two parallel gameplay situations, i. I will exemplify this by studying the dark moments between particular chapters of the game. However, the aesthetic self-reflection of the self-avatar is altered by comments of the Narrator. I argue that the first level mirrors the stance of the external point of view within a game itself Cf. Due to the oscillation between these framings, the interdependencies between the gameplay situation and aesthetic situation, as well as the co-action of internal and external perspectives become especially interesting.
I would like to underline that here I do not focus on a process of interpretation that takes place while the player turns back from playing the game to the distanced interpretation, but on a particular situatedness of subjectivity. In consequence, I will focus on the conditions of experience in particular situations, their interplay, and discontinuity.
I claim that the dualism of in-game situations does not replicate the differentiation between cybertext and text Cf. Before I can see anything more than a white screen, I am welcomed by the Narrator: Prima facie, the player is welcomed as herself in a frame story that is presented to her, and it seems that at that moment the gameworld does not propose any special subjective stance to her.
However, the situatedness she experiences now is immediately reflected upon by the Narrator. She just listens to the voice that outlines the situation she is about to participate.
From the introduction, she can learn a couple of biographical details about the relation of the Narrator to Coda, believed to be a designer of games encapsulated within TBG.
Right from the beginning, TBG shows the self-avatar that her subjective stance is not — as distinct from the majority of computer games — the straightforwardly central one.
Nevertheless, at first it is the only position she is proposed to take. In order to play, she enters the gameplay situation, and her attitude towards the world is already pointed out; she is proposed to take a guided tour through the digital worlds of prototypes encapsulated in TBG.
This situatedness needs to be experienced in order to establish a ground for any kind of reflection. The Narrator elaborates on the obscurity of the prototypes, while at the same time he highlights their — declaratively present — deeper and consistent meaning hidden from the self-avatar. In fact, without the framing story, the prototypes and mini-games they consist of could be mistaken for the first steps of a fledgling programmer.
Nevertheless, the prototypes are not the main attraction of the game, as the Narrator uses them in the construction of a more complex wholeness; he addresses and instructs the self-avatar, or advises Coda, the absent designer of prototypes; however, above all he presents his own interpretation of the current situation of the self-avatar within the prototype.
I believe that during these dark moments between the prototypes; i. Sartre , ; the self-avatar is still situated within a gameworld as a subject being guided by the Narrator. Therefore, the situation outlined by the TBG mirrors the stance of external perspective within a game itself. This Dark Area between the Doors 81 original version of the game known only to the author and the Narrator were practically unsolvable. Before the improvement, prototypes were private, paradoxical, non-playable games, unknowable worlds designed for no-one.
They present and repeat motives of prisons, towers, empty spaces and endless activities, stages and machines, and lanterns: Because now he wants something to hold onto. He wants a reference point, he wants the work to be leading to something. He wants a destination! The same lanterns that, as Coda reveals while addressing Davey from within the prototype entitled Tower, are added by Davey: Stop adding lampposts to them?
These Dark Areas If the self-avatar wants to proceed, even if the only challenge is to move further, she needs to act within these complicated circumstances. When she enters a prototype, her situatedness towards the frame story is supplied with the spatiotemporal situatedness within it; for example, within circumstances outlined by the door puzzle. What is the self-avatar supposed to do here?