Playing distressed art: Adorno’s aesthetic theory in game design

Authors

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.18778/2391-8551.08.04

Keywords:

games as art, game studies, Adorno, aesthetic theory, critical theory, Distressed

Abstract

The discussion on games as (not) art has been raging for decades without reaching a consensus. It is argued here that the ontological status of games is irrelevant for the perception and development of aesthetic experiences in videogames. Instead, game design should be regarded as ripe to convey the experience of art according  to established aesthetic theories. The essay presents Adorno’s aesthetic theory and highlights its reflections in the games Papers, Please and Observer. It then describes how they were synthesized into a  critical gameplay experience in the author’s game Distressed. The latter may be regarded as an example of a method in game studies in which the aesthetic potential of games is explored by creation rather than analysis. Arguably, this reveals the importance of epistemological approaches  towards games and art instead of the predominant ontological ones.

Author Biography

Benjamin Hanussek, Polish-Japanese Academy of Information Technology

Benjamin Hanussek – is a researcher, lecturer and developer in game studies and design. He works as lecturer and research advisor at the Polish-Academy of Information Technology in Warsaw. During the  time  in  which  the  article was written he was studying game studies and engineering at the University of Klagenfurt and was working as a teaching assistant at the Klagenfurt Critical Game Lab. In his free time, he develops indie games as producer and game designer at CtrlZ Games Collective.

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Published

2022-08-09

How to Cite

Hanussek, B. (2022). Playing distressed art: Adorno’s aesthetic theory in game design. Replay. The Polish Journal of Game Studies, 8(1), 73–87. https://doi.org/10.18778/2391-8551.08.04

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Section

Articles