1 Department of Information and Media Studies, Faculty of Humanities, Aarhus University, Aarhus University2 Centre for Teaching Development and Digital Media, Arts, Aarhus University3 Centre for Teaching Development and Digital Media, Arts, Aarhus University
Unveiling the corporeal practice of gamersAfdækningen af computerspilleres kropslige praksis
Through the history of games studies, research on gamers and gaming has mainly revolved around areas such as perception and interpretation of visual output, virtual interaction, learning/cognition, identity/roles, and community/sociality, whereas the areas of performance of bodily input, corporeal interaction, training, movement, (kin)aesthetics, and collective corporeal (inter)actions has largely gone unnoticed. Hence, the title of Drew Leder's book The Absent Body could also serve as a telling headline for research on gamers and gaming. Therefore, this paper adapts and develops notions and concepts originating from "corporeal" philosophy and phenomenology (Leder, Merleau-Ponty, Sheets-Johnstone), as well as the holistic philosophy of martial arts (Funakoshi, Nakazawa), to unveil methodological possibilities that will enable an understanding of how gamers experience to a great extent is shaped by their corporeal practice. By investigating what takes place between the player and the screen when playing e.g. World of Warcraft through notions such as corporeal interaction, bodily-kinesthetic learning, and moving in rhythm, the player is situated as something more than a "brain in a vat": Gamers' corporeality cannot be understood as a simple question of ergonomics, motor skills or muscle memory - it isn't a passing phase as one "learns to play the game". However, my aim isn't to neglect the importance of "stereotypical" research, as if the gamer were "just a physical acting body". Rather, the goal is to enrich our notion of the gamer by giving him back his body, escaping the general trend towards the "decorporalized" gamer, and establishing a balanced holistic perspective.