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What Looking Glass? October 17, 2007

Posted by jmoran21 in Games, Perception.
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HL2A New Media exercise: compare and contrast the differences in how you perceive A) a static, projected image of a hallway, B) viewing the hallway through a narrow window, and C) walking through that hallway.

A) Because the image is projected onto a screen, it relies on electricity and light to exist. If the electricity were cut off, the projected hallway would cease to exist. I can’t get into the image, I can’t modify the contents. It’s a linear communication from the projector, because every viewer sees the same hallway.

B) The window restricts my viewing to a certain range, but I can change my position relative to the window to increase, decrease, or change what I’m viewing. I can’t modify what’s beyond the window from my position in space, but people on the outside can and do affect what I see. This is a transactional communication because what you see depends on where and when you are looking.

C) Being inside the hallway itself fills your perception with the details of the space. I am free to change anything that I see fit and am physically capable of. I could even destroy the hallway if I had the strength.

So is a videogame, an fps like Half-Life 2 for instance, a projection, a window, or a hallway? The closest relative would be the window; even though you can interact with a virtual environment in a video game, you are still separated by the 4th wall, and that is the biggest difference between the window and the hall as well. Many dreamers like to imagine the possibilities of someday interacting with totally immersive game spaces, but I think our generation will be limited to those instances when games are brought to life.

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