Collaborative practices of imagining and the engineering of affect in computer games
conference contributionposted on 29.10.2015, 10:02 by Stuart Nikiforos Spyridon Panourgias, Joe Nandhakumar, Harry Scarbrough
In a similar way to the neglect regarding the study of affect in relation to cities highlighted by Thrift (2007), the study of digital te chnologies and systems – which like cities are at the centre of a ubiquity and multitude of affects (Delio 2001) – is also characterised by a lack of attention to what Thrift (2007) terms their “affective register” (Ciborra and Willcocks 2006). While much attention, both in academic research and among practitioners, is devoted to those aspects of the development of digital technologies that involve numeric al and textual representations, plans, and schedules, practices of imagining are also crucial to innovation in, and the development of, such technologies. Through an empirical study of practices of imagining encountered at three leading computer games development studios, this article examines the multi-sensory aspects of digital systems design and development and how the developers of these digital gam es – that range from sc ript writers and concept artists to digital animators and computer scientists – go about estab lishing – in the wording of the call – a digital “architecture of the senses”. The article exami nes how difficult to r epresent and under-determined aesthetic and experientia l features of the game being devel oped are realised collaboratively by temporally varying and cross-spec ialisation teams of developers and how a creative vision that is intangible and often subjective is translated into a novel and innovative di gital product. The article identifies specific practices of imagining involved in the development of computer games and shows the importance in the setting studied of going beyond text and discourse to take into account, not only the visual, but the wider involvement of various material and aesthetic artefacts in performing the kind of engineering of sensations and affect involved in the design and development of digital games.