In The Game
Why does Tim think of games as places? I never did answer that. (It’s because he’s cracked.) My half-written, unpublished and over-complicated attempt to talk about it is two pronged, one prong dealing with metaphor (how we can’t help referring to games as places) and the other to do with cognitive scaffolding and ‘extension of self’, the kind of thing you experience when you’re driving a car or, well, playing a videogame. Throwing the ‘I’ out into the world. (Leaky cognition and way brains use their environment to complete patterns being what I want to talk about but just can’t be bothered to research the relevant materials.)
Now some US psychologists have put proper research time into it and come up with a some interesting observations. Quite what can be extrapolated from their peculiarly abstract experiment, conducted on just handful of people, is debatable, but the researchers aren’t backward about making suggestions.
“This finding suggests that “when people are playing with computer games on a screen, that they temporarily locate their self at their location on the screen rather than within their physical body.”
It suggests that video-game players’ perceptions and actions are affected by having this external representation of self; they might be more likely to perceive and act as if both their body and self are in the game.”
Psychology is an indistinct science at the best of times (“might be more likely” being the key qualifier), but these findings do at least begin to cover the terrain that explains what it is we’re actually doing when we find ourselves absorbed in a game. What does give me the fear though, is the potential for their observations be misused by press and lawyers alike. “So the killer believed he was actually in the game?”
So it goes.