Haute games: innovative self and self-identity blendings

  • Maggie Parker

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis introduces the original idea that it is possible, and productive, to consider the ‘blending’ of (or deliberate creative combining of methods from) the fields of fine art practice and science practice, using selected empirical research methods to investigate constructions of self and self-identity that emerge between disciplines. In particular, the thesis investigates how the scientific aspects of modern computer games, for instance, can be seen to affect emotional responses from viewers and how those responses are, in turn, affected by the ‘blending’ of aesthetic concerns with consideration of alternative cognitive processes that induce relaxation to connect with participant-players’ self-identities. This process created a method to access cognitive processes, hitherto unexplored by computer-game developers. This research locates its arguments primarily in and between the disciplines, Art and Game Studies and supports the findings with examples taken from art practice and with theories of Psychology and Gaming. This thesis documents the creation of the author’s original hybrid ‘art- work-game’, known as ‘Star World’. It describes the process of ‘Star World’s’ creation, with analysis of the efficacy of this environment as a space where the mapping of narrative, and where perceptual and interactive ‘blendings’ of self and self-identity were employed and tested, with both qualitative and empirical studies of the experiences and perceptions of participant-players. The research focuses on how the distinctive abstract environment, ‘Star World’, affords and facilitates personal expression and interaction for computer-game players. It reveals specific cognitive processes undergone by participant-players; evidence that supports and validates the conjecture that participant-players use personal frames of reference when navigating, exploring and interpreting computer games. Teach-back protocols and their impact are shown to improve the interactivity and immersive potential of the environment. Overall, this thesis classifies ‘haute game’ rules that are formulated to identify virtual environments creating unique, alternative ‘blendings’ with participant-players and assembles a framework for developers to pursue, when producing original computer-game genres. It offers an innovative case study of value to future scholars of Game Studies, as well as to game developers, with cautionary examples provided to assist in dealing with situations where emotional states are accessed by game play. This thesis highlights the potential of interactive art and game design to produce beneficial outcomes for its participant-players, moreover, it demonstrates, with empirical evidence, the effect of the virtual environment on its participant-players.
Date of Award12 Dec 2008
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Teesside University
  • School of Computing, Engineering & Digital Technologies
SupervisorPeter Fencott (Supervisor) & Paul Van Schaik (Supervisor)

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