I’ve been thinking a little about bodies in games since a recent meeting of the Keywords for Video Game Studies group at the University of Washington on the topic of BODIES/SEX. A few scattered thoughts that I’m still working out:
The question of abstraction — games abstract bodies in different ways, to different degrees, etc. But there’s a difference between purposeful and non-purposeful abstraction. Games like QWOP highlight the degree to which abstraction is accepted and unnoticed most of the time. For instance, The Elder Scrolls series: so much is simulated in really fine detail, and then bodies are just these empty vessels for exploring the world (no need to eat or sleep – the body as an inexhaustible vessel with total freedom of movement.
I wonder if games abstract bodies so much because of an assumption that people want to experience a fantasy of disembodiment. I have a feeling that that’s actually what a lot of people want in games but it’s pretty frustrating sometimes.
(I think the most embodied I’ve ever felt in a TES game is as a vampire: having to pay attention to hunger, weather.)
Queer/indie representations of sexuality/the body in games, e.g. anthropy, increpare deal with the body in formats and genres that are less obviously immersive and “realistic” than simulation games but that can evoke more of an embodied response due to the deliberate nature of the abstraction involved.
(image from increpare’s striptease)