טכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל
הטכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל - בית הספר ללימודי מוסמכים  
M.Sc Thesis
M.Sc StudentIlya Yudovski
SubjectVideogames as virtual architectural space
DepartmentDepartment of Architecture and Town Planning
Supervisor Architect Blich Bilu
Full Thesis text - in Hebrew Full thesis text - Hebrew Version


Abstract

Game studies began as historical and sociological studies of socio-cultural phenomena and developed into a complex multi-disciplinary field, including culturology, psychology, economics, education and even medical science. Modern videogames are able to create complex simulations of physical reality - colourful, dynamic and interactive. The early researchers mentioned a unique space as a must-have feature of every game. A game creates a world. An environment to live in and explore. In contemporary videogames those magical worlds are interactive and can respond to the player’s actions. Space and environment take a significant role in different aspects of the game’s narrative and gameplay - to act successfully as a game content, space should tell a story. In other words, a well-designed game space must be, among all other things, an information delivery vessel.

The real built environments we live in containing complex systems of cultural and aesthetical codes and symbols. The ability to decode and understand those symbolic meanings helps us to navigate the space and to develop the right behavioural patterns to succeed in our spatial and social interactions.  According to design theory (and practice) architects and environment designers can “encode” symbolic meanings into designed spaces and environments. In 1924 Le Corbusier used the term “Language of architecture” and related to architectural spaces as emotional and aesthetic information systems - translated to the audience by means of light and physical elements. Afterwards, various architects and researchers mentioned the symbolic meaning of space. Forms, colours, and even spatial hierarchies, connections and relationships could translate information to the viewer - feelings, ideas, cultural and social rules.

Virtual worlds of computer games are designed to be used and perceived by humans - the same men and women who live and act in physical architectural spaces. Current research assumes that there’s a lot of likeness between real and virtual spaces - the environments we live in and a simulation of environments in games.  Current research is based on the fundamental hypothesis that the environmental perception cycle described by cognitive psychology scholars acts in very similar ways in real environments and their in-game simulations. And, therefore, virtual spaces could contain the very same symbolic systems the real spaces do.

The current research contribution is the study of connections between architectural theory and game level design.  Architecture is all about symbols, feelings and ideas embarked into space, and computer games surely could benefit from real world’s architectural design theory and practical approaches - as entertainment products, learning tools and communication medium altogether. Another interesting conclusion, we made from the assumed similarity of spatial aspects of real and virtual realities, is a possibility to use computer games as architectural models. In modern games, we can get various spatial interactions - from everyday activities like navigation to most unusual and extreme events and conflicts. So we can witness various theoretical situations and get scientific data about philosophical aspects of architecture and urban design.