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Research Project: on the development and interaction of genre across literature, film, art, and games

Research Project: on the development and interaction of genre across literature, film, art, and games

I recently read James Malazita’s “The Material Undermining of Magical Feminism in BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea” from Feminism in Play, which discusses how the limitations and intended uses of the Unreal Engine for BioShock Infinite made designing play as Elizabeth in her intended magical feminist fashion a relative impossibility. Malazita writes, “Propositional algorithms are decision-making, not problematizing. Questions whose responses do not afford a true or false, 0 or 1 answer are defined by Turing as inherently non-computable. Magical realism, in contrast, demands that sense-making logic is suspended, that the reader is left in a state of ontological and epistemological vertigo (p. 46).” Reading this, I was intrigued by the way that common game design tools are necessarily limiting when it comes to artistic exploration, and I wondered what interventions one would need in order to explicitly design a game that embodies the magical realism genre. As such, I’ll be delving into a research project focused on genre history and applications across creative mediums over the coming months.  

I am specifically interested in conducting a deep-dive into magical realism as a genre and comparing it’s expressions across different mediums in order to eventually attempt a format for a magical realist game. I can also see this project allowing for similar explorations into other genres. As such, I want to have a broad understanding of genre itself and its history of development within different mediums so that I can apply my findings to critical and creative making projects throughout my study. I also want to look at the trajectory of video game genres in comparison to the development timeline of genres in literature or art, for example. I look forward to sharing writing and projects that come out of this research in the near future!

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