Time invaders: conceptualizing performative game time

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This chapter characterizes framing devices and other game elements as unstable signifiers, evaluating performances according to how they generate diachronic or synchronic effects by acting on those signifiers. Videogames make use of computers’ capabilities to present a very large set of these signifiers and thus generate highly complex forms of temporal experience. Because neither diachrony (exemplified by player performance) nor synchrony (computer-coded rule structures) can complete their respective operations and always leave a differential margin, videogames can be understood as diachrono-synchronic systems.

Performative multiplicities of various sizes can be analyzed in terms of how they draw together or separate performances, creating a comparative methodology for describing temporal experience in videogames. One of the key synchronic effects is the Game Over, which has a high-level effect on all performances of a game. Considered as a synchronic horizon of experience, the Game Over provides a concept capable of addressing the heterogeneous and composite set of videogame elements in terms of how players interpret unstable signifiers. This includes narrative, which can be rigorously defined in terms of its synchronizing effect on a game’s performative multiplicity.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPerformativity in art, literature and videogames
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages39
ISBN (Electronic)9783319544519
ISBN (Print)9783319544502
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2017


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