The urban imaginary in ruins: video games and the future-present feedback loop
|Starts:||14:00 3 Oct 2018|
|Ends:||15:00 3 Oct 2018|
|What is it:||Seminar|
|Organiser:||School of Social Sciences|
/ Tea and Coffee|
|Who is it for:||University staff|
Urban ruins have come to dominate the conception of the modern city to such an extent that in 2014 Cairns and Jacobs wondered whether such ruins are “too full of multiple, hyper-meanings to be worthy of analysis or use any longer”. Despite this pronouncement, urban ruins have rarely been studied in relation to urban imaginaries, or video games. This paper therefore considers both real and imagined cities in terms of an urban ruin imaginary that is particularly common in games, which increasingly turn to hyper-real aesthetics of ruination in their depiction of the modern city.
Several recent games have been set in recognizably contemporary cities; this paper will focus on the hypothetical future ruins of Boston, Pittsburgh and Washington from The Last of Us (2013) and Fallout 3 and 4 (2008/2015). Drawing on PhD fieldwork undertaken in these cities and in urban ruins, and an auto-ethnography of gameplay, the argument presented here delineates an emerging “urban ruin imaginary”, through Frederic Jameson’s "Archaeologies of the Future" (2005); the work of Walter Benjamin on the decaying Paris arcades, and Marshall Berman’s work on urbicide and modern ruins. In this context, the ruins in these games reveal an emerging imaginary that views “the city” (present and future) as an increasingly fragmented space in terms of material obsolescence, social change, and contested space, detected through the real/imagined feedback loop between the actual cities depicted in each game; the real-world ruins of modern cities like Detroit; and the activity of playing the end of the city in the ruins of the future.
Offers: Tea and Coffee
Organisation: University of Manchester
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