In general, video games have allowed for a new way of exploring realities. Films, music and books have long explored dynamic systems of reality through representation and narrative, and while video games undeniably utilise narratives, they depict, explain and explore reality through simulation. When looking at video games it’s helpful to view them as simulations due to the complexity of what they convey and evoke, something which is much greater than what representation alone can achieve.
Gonzalo Frasca (2001) explains that “games are ontologically different from narrative because they are not just based on representation. Instead, they rely on simulation, which is a way of portraying reality that essentially differs from narrative… Simulation does not simply represents objects and systems, but it also models their behaviours.” Frasca (2001) goes on to say that it’s important to understand that through representation, only certain aspects are explained and so, “representation is always an incomplete task”.
“Simulation does not simply represents objects and systems, but it also models their behaviours.”
Furthermore, simulations are, to an external observer, merely a representation or, an “interactive narrative”, “for an external observer, the outcome of a simulation is a narration” (Frasca 2001) and therefore, it is important to note that simulation is also far from exhaustive. Frasca is not arguing that simulation is superior to representation, but is more effective for viewing the dynamic systems within video games. This is because the player is a fundamental part of simulation. (This also leads to a participatory culture, which I will be exploring next week).
For example, at a most basic level, a picture has no player, and therefore the mechanics and outcome of the picture can not be changed or acted upon. This is a representation.
A simulation is where a player can, and must choose certain actions, all leading to a specific outcome. There is a simple, interactive example of this here.
“…the simulation itself is something bigger than narrative. It is a dynamic system that yes, contains thousands of potential “stories”, but it is larger than the sum of its parts. The simulation itself is not a narrative, it is something different, in the same way that a kaleidoscope should not be understood as a collection of possible images but instead as a device that produces images according to certain mechanics” (Frasca 2001).
Due to the immersive nature of Virtual Reality, the idea of simulation is further heightened. In understanding the difference between representation and simulation I am able to explore how the ‘player’ will go from experiencing simulated events as a character in games to experiencing events as a personal experience within VR. In other words, the player of VR will now experience modeled behaviours of almost any ‘reality’ with greater realism than ever before. This is achieved through immersion.
In looking at The Yellow House as a simulation rather than a representation, I will hopefully be able to create an immersive environment that explores the dynamic systems both within the art pieces and the technology itself.