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Cinema Makes Itself an Interactive Experience.

by Paris-Lapazelle Moore

In this clip of this gamer creating his avatar, The Gamer shows the fantasy ultra-realism of this virtual online game world, while also revealing the actual fantastical flaw in real-life gaming, where one is truly aware that one is in a game, and even if one becomes sucked into the storyline, there is not the type of real texture and feeling that this clip of the virtual world gives off. This realistic feeling is complete with the fact that this game also uses real humans to play the characters, instead of merely computer graphics on a screen.

As the gamer does when he creates his avatar, one is able to recreate themselves in an online game, and this process also allows one the initial insight into the world space and gameplay, even before one enters the World of Story and is introduced to the narrative plot and background. It shows the diversity of the world, the possibilities of what you can be and also the rules and limitations on what you can't be. For instance, in this game world, this game is unable to become an ogre or a mage, or even choose costumes from the medieval ages, for example, instead of the current day of the film. Instead, he has to choose being a realistic human in the world of the game. Thus, this already imposes the rules and structure and a semi-introduction of the game that he will be playing, even before he enters the world.

At the same time, the fact that The Gamer chose to display this aspect of gameplay--watching this game create his avatar and choose from the list of options, demonstrates cinema incorporating an almost interactive experience within its passive watcher experience. It hasn't simply thrown us, the viewers, into a game where this gamer's character is already chosen, but it takes us through the process of creating her, so that we get to experience this recreation of identity and introduction into the game space and play of the game for ourselves. Already, we become a part of this world, and when we eventually enter it, we can imagine ourselves to be one of the characters or players on screen, an observer in the world of the game, or even our own selves, experiencing and interacting with the game much like this gamer does, with the exception of the fact that we don't have a controller in our hands and truly can't control where the entire story is going.

While in Henry Jenkins' essay, "Game Design as Narrative Architecture," he makes reference to several quotes at the top that state that narratology is completely separate from ludology and practically its complete antithesis, in this film  it is quite clear that they employ the ludology of the game on screen to tell the narrative story in fuller detail and draw us in. It envelops us further into this virtual interactive world, while at the same time attempting to dissatisfy us with our own 'real world' video games of current day, since technically the visual effects and world would never be as detailed and realistic as the one portrayed on screen. The Gamer crafts itself as an interactive entity, using both gameplay and narrative structure to shape the viewers' experience and pull them into the world of this film and this game.

Mulvey's Pleasure and Gamer: Getting Off to Getting Off

by Dominic

In Gamer (2009), we are treated to a duo of games in which humans can create their own avatars much like any other game, but the difference in Slayers and Society is that the avatars are real people whom volunteer to participate to be controlled. In this particular scene from the film, we see an overweight white male who is choosing an attractive female avatar, which he will use to enter the Society game and meet male avatars for sexual adventures. We witness the player reaching a nearly orgasmic state simultaneously through the sexual simulation of the game, and the bodily consumption of fatty foods in the real world.

Interestingly enough, though, this moment in the film introduces a very important distinction between the world of interactivity of society and the world that encompasses film viewing. A tri-fold model of interpreting the notion of “choice” comes into focus in this moment. Primarily, the character/actor whom becomes the avatar holds no choice over either the avatar’s appearance or its behavior. She becomes the stereotypical woman, captured by the man’s gaze as described by the theories of Laura Mulvey, and actually becomes this captured woman twofold, as the audience of Gamer is treated to see what the audience of Society is seeing. Obviously, in this example, then, the overweight player becomes both the gazer and the gazed upon (complicating the notion of the gazed upon as necessarily female, even when at its core it still remains female), and the audience of the movie itself is a double voyeur; fetishistically viewing the engorged male body as he fetishizes the body of an attractive female body without control (whom, I suppose, is also objectified by the male avatar-in-game and the male players behind it). 

It is important to take a real sort of notice at the ways in which the audience of Gamer is made to feel helpless in this dynamic. A sort of wish fulfillment inundates the viewer of the film – while we watch the player change his avatar at will, we experience the loss of control as a wish to change the player as freely as he manipulates his avatar. A powerful tendency to ignore the somewhat discomforting notion of an obese man manipulating sexually the body of an attractive woman in favor of a longing for alleviation of our own discomfort and wishes that we could manipulate that particular body to that of an attractive woman, or a more attractive man, or even a particularly cute dog.

In what ways can we conceive of this layering of desires and pleasures, control and lack thereof? Mulvey says in “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” that “scopophilia is essentially active…it can become fixated into a perversion”. Because the dictates of this particular series of strata all depend on intense sexual subjugation (avatar to player, player to audience, avatar to audience), it must be further iterated that this scopophilia depends on a want to be the object of the gaze as well as the one who delivers it. This is why it is important to note that the avatars choose to be involved in the game, and perhaps also explains the significance of the representation of the player’s pleasure in external sources to Society. His pounding away of sugar and carbohydrate can thus be a cue to us that we are watching him sexually enjoy watching people sexually enjoy themselves, and perhaps, if one were to watch us watch Gamer characters watching Society, they might also notice similar nodes of pleasure.

Gamer avatar selection

The process of avatar selection for the game "Society" portrayed in the movie Gamer perpetuates negative stereotypes of gamers

from Gamer (2009)
Creator: Mark Neveldine
Posted by Survey of Interactive Media