Moving through space : The paths of the videogame
In the way that stories are constructed the screen space of film and of computer games are related but not identical. Games do not simply replicate cinematographic use of space or movement to construct the many interwoven strands of its narrative (story sequences, moral structures of cause, effect and consequences, the aesthetic and emotional trajectories of mis-en-scene, music and sound, code of colour, materiality, performance, and intertextual allusion), and to think they do is to misunderstand the historical relation of films and game which is less a line of direct descent so much as a co-evolution of similar forms. One fundamental difference between the screen of film and the screen of game is that in the latter the player is a director-of viewing within a fluid world, an interactive participant who purposefully constructs an syntagmatic instance through their actions that will vary between viewings. The videogame is a sequence of actions:events that generate the screen display, in a film there are only events. This suggests, perhaps that where the events of film follow ‘tracks’ like a train, the less determined action:events of game follow ‘paths’, and are often maze-like in their internal organisation of places, structures of choices, and the location of narrative and other significance. This paper aims to open up a discussion about the paths flowing through the game space we, as players, are experiencing. By constructing a vocabulary of different path structures inherent in the design of worldly mazes, this paper seeks to expand on these real world vocabularies and apply them to videogames. The terms most important to this discussion are that of the ‘dead-end’, ‘bridges’, and ‘warps’ and how their meanings have evolved through our experience of the videogame.