Aya of the Beholder

An Examination of the Construction of Real-World Locations in Parasite Eve

  • Chris Alton York University


The ways in which virtual environments are constructed and perceived is rarely a direct one-to-one experience. Using the foundational example of Squaresoft’s Parasite Eve (1997), I examine the ways in which real-world locations and approximations of such are represented within videogame worlds. I examine the methods through which videogames can create spaces which evoke the conceptual idea of a given place, both through audio/visual and interactive means, without constructing a one-to-one simulacrum of the location. Thus, the player actively contributes in the transformation of an actionable virtual space into an actualized lived place.

          Taking a multi-disciplinary approach, my discussion draws on cinematic semiotic theory, by way of Christian Metz, in association with Wittgenstein’s examination of language as a foundation from which to proceed. These concepts are then incorporated into a broader discussion of theories more focused on videogame studies, such as Laurie Taylor’s Lacanian approach to the videogame avatar and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s theory of flow, to illustrate how video game locations may leave out large portions of their real-world referents and yet still be identified as said referents by the player. The choices for what to include/exclude are also examined from a socio-political perspective, allowing reflection on what is considered necessary for a representation of a real-world place.


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March 11, 2019