Last year the Philosophy of Computer Games conference examined space in games. The ultimate question being ‘is space in games real?’
If you want to know the answer to that question you’ll have to relive the conference. To be clear they examined space as in spatial environments, not space as in outer space. All of the slides and lectures are available online for your viewing pleasure.
The keynote lecture, “Antinomies of Space: Philosophy – Culture – Games”, is a good place to start as it provides context around the conception and history of space. The discourse around what space is has evolved more than you think it has.
Considering the history of philosophical problems the keynote will firstly address the various notions of space and focus on their similarities and contradictions by which basic antinomies of spatial concepts can be determined. In a second step solutions or alternatives to this contradictions will be offered, before looking at the origins of the present spatial turn in social, political and cultural studies. Finally the presentation inquires spatial approaches that do exist in game studies and offers a way of a philosophical study of computer games in spatial respect.
Enter the 4th dimension:
Then there are people who take their curiosity to the logical conclusion of creating a game. Miegakure is an upcoming game that explores the fourth dimensional space. The creator, Marc ten Bosch, was recently interviewed about the game.
The game runs on its own custom 4D engine that I developed from scratch. Every position in the game is *actually* represented with four numbers. There are no tricks or hacks. We are building what a 4D world would be like, in many ways. This creates a space were puzzles happen naturally: they are just simple consequences of 4D space. More traditional puzzle games very carefully set up situations, and the behavior is limited to what the designer has intended (for example you need to input the right code to open the door, and the code is written down somewhere hidden). Because what we are building is so general, I might not know all the solutions to a particular puzzle… or I might discover a lot of puzzles by just setting up random situations and playing and seeing what happens. If something surprising and interesting happens, I will make it into its own puzzle.