Simulated urbanism and its effects on the negotiation of hyperreal cities

15 Nov 2008

Urban spaces have become blended even more seamlessly with their portrayal. Such representations are generated via a broad range of media which both influence and sculpt our sense of their constitution so that our sense of what the urban ‘is’ is inflected by a range of interpretations, atmospheres, inherited viewpoints, dialogues and scenarios derived from these media.

In this paper the authors look at this interpretive skew as generated through intense video gaming activity and from a particular simulated urban context, the city of the game Grand Theft Auto 3: Liberty City. Their objective is to conceptualise the linkages between gamers’ apprehension of the relative realism of this in-game environment and its influence on their experience of traversing ‘real’ urban environments. They suggest the notions of slipped and segued viewpoints as a means of understanding the differential degrees to which real and artificial interactive representations, based around violence, gang ecologies and dystopian urban space, bleed unevenly into the everyday urban life of these players.

This sense of space appears to influence perceptions of risk, the navigation of urban space, and received understandings of social ecologies and stereotypes which overlap with the non-game world. Gamers move within what we call the ludodrome – a mediated space between immersion in urban simulation and a real world that is simultaneously generated, destabilised and blurred by the effect of such gameplay.

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