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Doors and perception: Fiction vs Simulation in Games

Aarseth, Espen

in Proceedings, Digital Arts and Culture Conference, 2005


In this paper, I outline a theory of the relationship of fictional, virtual and real elements in games.

Games, fiction, simulation, virtual, reality.

1. Introduction

In discussions of mimetic games, that is, games that represent events, beings and worlds in a way that makes it possible for these elements to be recognized independently of the game, it is not uncommon to talk of these as part of the game’s “fiction.” This may seem reasonable at first sight, for the phenomena in question are not – or do not seem - real, the way phenomena in our real world are or seem real; hence they must be imaginary, illusory, fabricated: fictional. An invented character in a novel or movie is fictional, so why should it not follow that an invented character in a game also is fictional? Critical questions about the status of fiction in games are rarely asked, and the concept of fiction is not interrogated before it is put to use in game studies. Even in quite sophisticated discussions, such as Rune Klevjer’s “In Defence of Cut Scenes” [2], the term fiction is used without qualification, nor seen in need of redefinition.




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