The White Cube

I’ve had occasion to think about gallery spaces and video games today, since the game I’m developing right now trades on precisely that. It occurred to me that gallery spaces are a brilliant space for video games to straightforwardly represent because, still, games can’t represent all that much.

The great thing about a gallery space is that, perhaps more than any other space I can think of, it’s a place where you’re not really allowed to do anything at all – and that nothingness of action is totally sanctioned both by social norms and enforced rules. No touching, no making loud noises, no interacting with the art work – obviously there are exceptions, artworks or galleries that explore contradictions to these rules, but still, by and large a gallery is a place where you don’t interact. Rather, you are (in theory) acted on by the art. You just stand there (or sit on the conveniently placed bench) and take it.

Just the sort of thing it’s easy to implement in a game – the less interaction, the easier it is. White cube, just add physics (if that – it’s not like you’re meant to touch the walls or jump in a gallery, after all). To that extent, then, it’s possible for me to implement a weirdly authentic gallery space in the game I’m making – there’s not that much to it in terms of the place itself. I’ll be interested to see whether that fact about galleries lends a weird kind of authenticity to the game experience which games that seek to simulate more complex environments naturally can’t reach, even when they’re made by hundreds of people instead of just one.

With this blog’s powerful reach, I’m sure we’ll see a spate of big budget FPSes set in galleries real soon. You’re welcome.

26 August 2011
← next words previous words →