Fakultäten » Philosophische Fakultät » Schweizerisches Institut für Kinder- und Jugendmedien (SIKJM) » Dr. Anita Müller » Kocher

Completed research project

Title / Titel The Aesthetics of Real Virtuality. Interpretive negotiations at the boundaries between game and reality in pervasive games
PDF Abstract (PDF, 14 KB)
Original title / Originaltitel Die Ästhetik realer Virtualität. Hermeneutische Aushandlungen von Spiel- und
Wirklichkeitsgrenzen im 'pervasive gaming'
Summary / Zusammenfassung Aim:
The research project “The Aesthetics of Real Virtuality” focuses on the interplay between reality and fiction in pervasive gaming. Based on two case studies, one located in California (at the University of California, San Diego), the other in Sweden (at the Interactive Institute, Stockholm), I intend to investigate how pervasive games are construed to lead or mislead the participant in his/her interpretation towards realistic and/or fictional contextualisations, and how the participants' interpretation is structured.

Current technological and aesthetic developments in the mediaspheres are tending towards a seamless simulation and (hyper-)realistic representation of real world processes. The blurring of the traditional boundary between game and reality becomes especially apparent in pervasive games, also called “alternate reality games”, that engage the player by a multitude of platforms like e-mail, mobile phones, websites and real world spaces. Pervasive games toy with the fictional and the real by not telling the participant where exactly the magic circle of the game, the so-called game space, is located, and which of the content elements are fake or authentic. They therefore have the player questioning the authenticity of each and every website he/she encounters, thus cultivating a mediacritical attitude, inviting also a ludic – or radically constructivistic – approach, this to the point of perceiving city spaces as game spaces and inhabitants as (non) player characters.
The intended undertaking of a selective analysis of pervasive games is embedded in a in-depth study („Habilitationsschrift“). The book aspires to be of use for further developments in media criticism and the furthering of media competence, attempting at finding practical answers to the question, how future edutainment products should be construed and designed in order to guide users in an optimal way when handling new media technologies.

Scientific approach:
Methodologically, the analyses shall be based on the method of Participating Observation by playing and observing the games and following the communications of the players on the web, furthermore by qualitative interviews and content analysis (of forum and chat entries of the players) during and after the gameplaying. In the tradition of grounded theory development the observations and results of the case studies shall be interpreted along the lines of theoretical concepts of reality, fiction and virtuality used in theories such as constructivism, media science, neuropsychology, systems theory and education science.
Publications / Publikationen Zusammen mit Michael Böhler: „Über den ästhetischen Begriff des Spiels als Link zwischen traditioneller Texthermeneutik, Hyperfiktion und Computerspielen“. In: Jahrbuch für Computerphilologie 3 (2001). Hg. v. Georg Braungart, Karl Eibl u. Fotis Jannidis. Paderborn: mentis Verlag 2001. S. 81-106. Auch publiziert in: ‹› (28.7.08).
„Online-Rollenspiele und Medienkompetenz. Ein rezeptionsästhetischer Zugang“. In: Medienwissenschaft Schweiz 2/2003: Medienkompetenz und Medienleistungen in der Informationsgesellschaft. Hg. v. SGKM Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Kommunikations- und Medienwissenschaft. S. 108-114.
„The Ludoliterary Circle. Analysis and Typology of Digital Games“. In: The Aesthetics of Net Literature. Writing, Reading and Playing in Programmable Media. Sammelband zur Siegener Tagung 2004 „Netzliteratur. Umbrüche in der literarischen Kommunikation“. Hg. v. Peter Gendolla u. Jörgen Schäfer. Reihe Medienumbrüche / Media Upheavels, Bd. 16. Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag 2006. S. 107-120.
Folge dem Pixelkaninchen! Ästhetik und Narrativität digitaler Spiele. Dissertation. Reihe Arbeitsberichte des Schweizerischen Instituts für Kinder und Jugendmedien. Bd. 28. Zürich: Chronos 2007.
Keywords / Suchbegriffe virtual reality, digital games, video games, youth culture, pervasive games, participatory culture, interpretive communities, aesthetics, media literacy
Project leadership and contacts /
Projektleitung und Kontakte
Dr. Mela Kocher (Project Leader)  
Funding source(s) /
Unterstützt durch
SNF (Personen- und Projektförderung), Others
SNF-Stipendium für fortgeschrittene Forschende (Projektförderung von 2/2009 bis 1/2011)
In collaboration with /
In Zusammenarbeit mit
Sheldon Brown, Experimental Game Lab, Center for Research in Computing & the Arts, University of California San Diego United States
Annika Waern, Mobile Life Center, Interactive Institute, KTH University Stockholm Sweden
Duration of Project / Projektdauer Feb 2009 to Dec 2013