Lecture: Immersed in Mediated Spaces – Playful Immersion and the Quest for Immediacy in Video Games, Carl Therrien, Stanford

From the immersive image spaces found in antique Roman houses to the contemporary revival of large formats and stereoscopy in movies, there have been many instances where designers have pursued a paradoxical endeavour: the creation of a mediated experience as immediate or lifelike as possible. The current trend of allegedly natural interfaces in video games – first with the introduction of the Wiimote, and more recently with Microsoft’s Kinect and Sony’s Move – is another case in point. Users are promised to interact seamlessly with the machine. In fact, the marketing campaigns seek to attract new customers by convincing them that they already know how to play the games. This talk will present a brief overview of many apparatuses that sought to increase the sense of illusion in order to procure maximum immersion, and the continuation of this tendency in many aspects of video game design. This conception of immersion will then be confronted with other definitions that focus on the specific nature of the psychological involvement of the user in a playful experience.

Carl Therrien is currently working on a postdoc project on the history of video games, under the supervision of Henry Lowood and Mark J. P. Wolf. He recently completed his PhD thesis – a comparative study of fictional immersion in a variety of media – at University of Quebec in Montreal. He has been working as an assistant for Bernard Perron’s research projects on interactive cinema and horror video games.

Presented by BCNM, DE in New Media Program. Event is free and open to the public.