5th International Conference

Digital Culture & AudioVisual Challenges

Interdisciplinary Creativity in Arts and Technology

Hybrid - Corfu/Online, May 12-13, 2023

The Darkness of the Algorithm: mental illness and its ludic enactment in the medium of videogames
Date and Time: 12/05/2023 (14:30-16:00)
Location: Online
Anastasios Tsakaliadis-Sotirakoglou
Keywords: videogames, digital, algorithm, psychology, emotion, disorder, depression

The soaring popularity of videogames has recently led to their consideration as important aspects of our contemporary culture, giving rise to academic research concerning their distinctive features and capabilities, revealing their potential to gain equal status with other acclaimed forms of art. This, of course, is no less relevant to their ability to represent human emotions and convey them to the player, the game’s active agent, as part of their interaction with the work of fiction.
Grant Tavinor, in his book “The Art of Videogames”, stresses the importance of the player’s active role as a testament to the ability of the videogame medium to elicit emotional reactions from them. This, however, does not transcend the limits of viewing videogames as works of fiction, meant to convey emotions through narrative, in a rather representational sense. Even though Tavinor acknowledges the intricate relationship between fiction and reality, his understanding of the role of emotions in gaming does not exceed their function as part of a representational narrative.
Thus, I shall attempt to investigate the status and representation of human emotions in gaming, not as part of videogames’ function as a common narrative medium among others, but concerning emotions’ integration in the very structure of a medium described by Alexander R. Galloway as algorithmic cultural objects. Can “a machine that functions through codified rules of operation” convey the sensitive peculiarities of human pathos? Can the medium’s artistic capabilities breach the coldness of its algorithmic structure?
In particular, I will focus my research on mental disorders and their implementation in the design of a selection of video games. From games specifically designed to represent a person’s experience with mental illness to games that incorporate mental disorders into their narrative structure, I shall attempt to evaluate the specific and peculiar ways in which the videogame medium can allow us to experience this most morose aspect of living.
For the purposes of research, I shall rely on bibliographical sources relevant to the subject of videogames, as well as the relevant subjects of philosophy and psychoanalysis, but will mostly focus on hands-on experience with a selection of videogames in question.

Anastasios Tsakaliadis-Sotirakoglou

Anastasios Tsakaliadis-Sotirakoglou was born in 1995 in Thessaloniki, but is currently based in Athens. He is the owner of a bachelor’s degree from the Department of Art Theory and History in the Athens School of Fine Arts, and upcoming owner of a master’s degree in the same field and department. His academic interests include aesthetic philosophy, psychoanalysis, art theory, and critique, as well as digital aesthetics. Since 2021, he has participated in three conferences organized by Ionian University, completing the required papers. Apart from his native language, he is fluent in English and French.

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