"Welcome to the modern world, painted stick" : postmodern magic in educational virtual reality
Boyd, Randall Ian (Randy)
Doctor of Philosophy
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This dissertation endeavours to create a conceptual frameworkwith which to examine “video games as postmodern magic.” I begin by defining the operative understanding of postmodernism for the purpose of this analysis, focusing on representation, power, and a critique of Enlightenment assumptions, then using the work of Deleuze and Guatarri I construct a postmodern approach to the research, and suggest “resonance” as an alternative mode of evaluation and validation. I then turn to examine the concept of magic, before it was reduced and discredited by the Enlightenment, and in so doing finding another way of looking at the world, a way that privileges imagination over rationality, spirit over materialism, and multidimensionality over linear logic. Having “reached back” to a time before the Enlightenment, I then seek to connect those insights to “visual digital culture” where image, interactivity and immersion predominate. Having created a framework that integrates the issues of postmodernism, magic, and visual digital culture, video games are analyzed within this structure. Noting that magic plays a surface role in many games, I suggest that there is a more pervasive magical element to such games, and look at how video games expand the realm of possibility through simulation and simulacra, how they challenge the meta-narrative by shifting power and control of the narrative to the player, and finally how video games augment our appropriation of reality by synaesthetically creating experiences and a “phenomenology of magic.” The dissertation is concluded with a discussion of a possible “pedagogy of enchantment” in which the insights gained from the analysis are applied to the educational environment, narrativity, intereactivity and immersion, are placed within a virtual environment for exploration.