Degree Show Installation

Degree Show, Installation

Reflective Journal Summary

Assignment 1, Reflective Journal Summary

My aim for the project was to explore the area of video games, more specifically the interaction with the game and it’s player. In my contextual essay I addressed the idea of the slippage between the real and the simulated game world. I explored a variety of different issues that I felt needed to be explored further, the one point that was made and relates directly back to my practical work is the idea of immersion. The fact that this form of media takes you past the stage of just watching something, it allows you to take the role of someone or something in a simulate world the majority of the time completely different from the world we live in. Maybe this is the reason why so many countless hours are spent in these worlds.
My practical began by looking into the MMORPG, massive multiplayer online role-playing game. I explored what one of these things was and the different elements that could lead me onto other ideas.
“… a type of game genre. MMORPGs are online role-playing multiplayer games which allow thousands of gamers to play in the game's evolving virtual world at the same time via the Internet.” (, 20/05/2009)
The idea of the avatar surfaced very early as I looked into the online game, the avatar is the name given to the role/character you play in these online worlds. The idea of online game identity has been addressed many times before, one artist in particular who explored this issue was Robbie Cooper, he created a piece of work entitled ‘Alter Egos’. For the project he produced a series of photographs taken of gamers from all over the world. He asked each of the gamers to supply him with a screenshot of their online character; then positioned both images next to each other to make a comparison between the gamer and the online character.
Not only does this simple idea work but all the images tell a different story. From the project he created a book which is a must have because you are limited to the amount of images shown on the internet. On the bottom of each comparison double page spread he has a short paragraph about the gamer and how they represent themselves in games. In many of the photographs he has got the gamer to mimic the pose of their alter ego, this really adds to the comparison because it gives you a clear picture if any similarities exist. The one image that sticks out in my mind is that of a young man called Jason Rowe, clearly from his photograph he has some form of disability, in the comparative shot he looks to be some kind of warrior. In his text he explains his disability and that how in game no one can judge him on the way he looks, he goes on to say that this is the only way he really socialises with people in the outside world, so the game for him is a social platform.
I recreated this piece by taking screenshots of my online alter egos, the result looking at all the characters over the years is that the majority look nothing like me, in fact the majority are female. In my case there is no link between the visual look of my alter egos and myself.
Following on from the theme of the MMORPG About the time I was starting this project the biggest MMORPG ‘World of Warcraft’ was holding a midnight event in London, the official launch of the newest game in the series. Having spent the last couple of years playing the game and experiencing life inside the game, I thought it would be interesting to experience what happened when all the players meet in the real world. The event was held at HMV Oxford Street London. The event consisted of a three-hour queue just to get into the store to buy the game. What was great about the event was several people came dressed in costume, linking back to the idea of alter egos, these people in the queue came dressed as their character in game, the roles have been reversed. Also the fact that over one thousand players came out for the event was overwhelming, another issue that got me involved in the project was the perception of gamers, the common identity associated with the gamer is a teenage boy sitting in his bedroom not leaving the house for days at a time. The people at this event were a huge mix of different people.
Long Exposures
A big issue associated with gaming is the amount of time spent playing these games, and the idea that they are a waste of time.
To address the idea of time practically I began to use long exposure photography hoping to capture the change in time over a period of time. The first set of shots I created using long exposure were several photographs of myself sitting in front of the computer playing games. The camera set on the bulb function was sat on a tripod next to the monitor and controlled by a remote trigger. Bulb allowed me to control the exposure period precisely so all the shots had the same exposure so I could make a comparison between them. During the shoot I tried a variety of different shots, as I had no idea how each one of the shots were going to come out. Each of the photographs were taken with an exposure time of ten to fifteen minutes.
All the shots in this shoot were of my head but from slightly different angles. Overall I’m very pleased with the outcome. As I played the game the camera recorded all my little movements so my face appears a blur. As this was my first attempted at these shots, a lot more development was needed. These areas of development include the background of my shot, in all the images the background behind me is very busy, full of unnecessary objects, this can easily be corrected by either moving to a different shooting location or just putting up some kind of black screen. Also the camera angle needs to be decided on, when shooting the shot I stuck to three different levels of height, looking down, straight on and from below. For me the shot looking down seems to work the best because it has the feeling that someone is watching you from above. The height of the camera is about the height of the average person standing up. Thinking about the composition I have to be in the centre of the image because I am the focal point and as I move my head I have to allow enough space in frame to capture all my movements. For me capturing the movement is the key as it directly relates back to the idea of time. In post production I experimented with colour and trying to really bring out the paths of movement in the photograph. Desaturating the image and adjusting the contrast darkened the background and really brought out blur lines what shows the movement of my head.

Long Exposure Two
Moving on with the idea of time and long exposures I experimented with different angles and the time recorded within the frame. My idea this time was to move the camera behind my head facing the screen. I wanted to continue with the idea of someone watching me rather than a well composited photograph.
The camera was set up as before using the bulb function controlled by a remote trigger giving complete control over the time the shot was exposed. The aperture was set at f22 allowing me to have long exposures without the trouble of over exposing the frame. Overall the first shot turned out very successful, for me what made the shot successful was that the game being played is visible on the screen. My head in this shot is just a blur just able to make out the edges. Much development is needed in this shot, what is distracting is the amount of light coming from the LEDS inside the PC tower. This could be fixed by just turning them off, having the screen as the only object in the room admitting light.
Already having the camera set up in position I tried the same shot again this time using an exposure of 32 minutes, hoping this would give me some indication of how the shot would look without the lights from the tower. The strange thing about this shot was, it looks more exposed than the first, this shot having thirteen less minutes of exposure, the same aperture was used. The lights in the tower seemed to look the same but the screen is just washed out and over exposed. I think this may be down to my head movements, my head was in the middle of the monitor and the camera, my head must of just moved to far for too long causing a massive amount of light to reach the shutter.
The downside to using just long exposures is the amount of processing time needed once you have taken the shot. It took about thirty minutes after each shot to see the results. Although the technique is interesting in my opinion the shots are not visually pleasing to look at. It is just a blurred head in the foreground, with a monitor in the background.
Documenting Gameplay
The idea of documenting the playing of a game has stuck from the earlier points of the project to the making of my final piece. The idea came from me visiting ‘Stuff Live’ a gadget exhibition held at Earls Court, London. One of the main areas within the exhibition was the unveiling of the newest game in the ‘Guitar Hero’ franchise. In the game ‘Guitar Hero’ you use instrument peripherals to play along to a variety of different songs, this newest game allowed you to take the role as a drummer or a singer. After watching people play this game you start to see a change from when there playing the game and how they are afterwards. The game allows you to become something, in this case play an instrument that you may not be able to play. You become immersed in the game, this is what the videogame is all about, it allows you to experience things you would not expect to do in the real world.
Having noticed these changes in people when they were playing games. I decided to take images of people playing a variety of games. Very similar to karaoke it allows the player to play or sing along to something that they would normally listen to, it allows the player to take on the role of the artist. Experimenting with both long shutter speed trying to capture the movement of the player and still photography, I began to look at the body posture of the person and how they mimic other people’s actions.
Immersion, deep mental involvement.
The idea of becoming immersed in a game has both good and bad points. Yes the player is breaking the barrier between the screen and the virtual world. Something that is intended to happen and does happen when we watch television, but video games have that added interactivity which in turn to leads to addiction. Although my contextual essay is not directly related to this subject over the course of the research I have seen many examples of how games have in some cases destroyed lives. With all things in life we have a chance of becoming addicted to something. Some people seem to live their lives day in day out in virtual worlds. Could it be the fact that in these simulated worlds we are able to experience things we would not be able to in real life. Looking back at alter egos in game your character can be whatever you want it to be. Not only can these games be a visual pleasure they now have the capability of making the player a lot of money in the real world. The example used in my essay was “Second Life’ a virtual world in which you sell objects in game for profit in the real world. Please refer to my contextual essay on the topic of real world trading and it’s impact both in game and in the real.
Robbie Cooper the creator of the ‘Alter Ego’ series also created ‘Immersion’ a set of videos documenting gameplay. In his video he went round schools in London and recorded several different children all different ages playing some of their favourite games. He recorded a closeup of each child as they played the games. In the accompanying text Robbie writes about how he asked each child a set of questions and that the children’s eyes never left the screen, some cases just ignoring the questions. The videos are amazing; beautifully shot, keeping the player the only focus point; he did this by using just a plane background. The child is looking straight into the lens, a technique perfected by Errol Morris and his early videos interviewing people. The idea at first seems quite dull, to watch someone playing a video game, but once you watch the video and hear the soundtrack playing from the game, you see the emotion in the kids’ faces, as they become this character in game.
The Call of Duty Kid
Following on from watching Robbie’s videos I tried out the technique myself, creating a set of videos entitled ‘The Call of Duty Kid’ Using from what I learnt in the early long exposure shot I kept the high camera angle and placed a black background behind me hiding all the unnecessary objects. The reasoning behind the video was to discover how immersed in the game I become. Watching the video back I discovered that every now and then through the video it looked as if I ducked as the virtual bullets flew over my virtual characters head. What really worked for me in this first video was the only light in the room was coming from the monitor. As the gunshots were fired in game it created flashes revealing my face out of the darkness. Some development is needed in this video, the video is far to dark, its only when flashes appear on the screen that my face is seen. The point of the video was to capture every moment of gameplay looking at facial expressions and body language as I played.
In the next video I increased the amount of light in the room so my face is always seen, not fading into the darkness. Even though the light was increased in the room the flashes from the gunshots were still present and for me adds that little bit more connection between the viewer and the video. Something else, which really adds to this connection, is that I’m wearing glasses and you are able to see a reflection of the screen.
The next shot I recorded was a close up focusing on the emotion shown on my face. Really hoping the glasses would act as the main focal point making the connection between you watching me and me watching the screen, but you can also see the screen by watching me.
By just focusing on the face the viewer is left wondering what they are doing, although the viewer may guess it is something to do with games, you can’t be quite sure. Focusing on the head took away all the body language and focused on the emotion in the face. Moving on with the idea of mystery I created one more shot, this time I recorded my hand movements. The video was just me clicking now and then, and for me was not really that interesting. Maybe I gave too much away, as soon as the mouse it shown you can instantly see it’s something to do with a computer, plus the soundtrack and you know exactly what’s going on.
The Portrait of a Gamer
An on going set of videos and photographs focusing on the different play styles of each person and the type of people that play games. In this set of videos the plan was to isolate the player. I was going to use a blue screen to create a black background. I got a screen from the media store and it turned out to be portrait background, I decided to try out the background. The results were fantastic; it isolated the player but also added something to the video. I asked each person I filmed to play a series of maths challenges on the Nintendo DS, a portable game device. This background reminds me of something quite academic, it reminds me very much of the photographs that are taken at school, which works quite well with these brain challenges. The viewer of the photograph or video does not know what the person is actually doing so I hope the background suggests that.
The inspiration for creating these sets of videos of many people performing the same task came from Candice Breitz and her work ‘Karaoke’. She asked a number of people to sing along to a track while she filmed them. What was really interesting about the piece was the way she presented it. She had several televisions going round in a circle, each television playing a different person singing along to the same track. The viewer was asked to enter the circle and be surrounded by a wall of sound.
As I did not have the resources to gather several televisions at that moment in time, I began to create single screen video collages. For each person I took a portrait style shot with the DS in shot and a close up of the face. I felt the wider shot worked well because it showed more of the body and the tiny swifts in movement they played the game. Even though I have included the DS in shot, I feel like the viewer would still not know what is actually happening apart from these people are all hold a white brick in their hands.
The first video created had four people each taking a quarter of the square frame. Though it seemed to work very well I wanted to know what would happen if more people were added so a greater comparison of players could be seen. The last shot of this small project was of eight people, 4x2 on a 6:9 ratio screen. To peruse this idea further I would need to think about the models I had, because I was trying out the technique I used the people that were around me, they all had that student look to them. Part of the reasoning behind the project was looking at the diversity of people that play these games.
Guitar Hero
The simulation of this activity first came up when I visited the ‘Stuff Live exhibition’ in which the players were simulating the activity of playing instruments and playing in a band. Simulation would allow you to perform a task, which you may not be able to perform in the real or even train you to perform that action without any real risk.
I began to create videos using the game showcased at the ‘Stuff’ event, ‘Guitar Hero World Tour’. I filmed a close-up of a player as she played a track from the game using the drum peripheral. I used enough light in the room so her face was constantly illuminated. I decided on the close-up because I felt I did not give too much away to the viewer. I want the viewer to sit and watch the video so over time they might figure out what’s going on.
Continuing with the drumming and ‘Guitar Hero’ I went back to the collage idea and created some comparison shots between two people playing the game. I used three different camera angles exploring which would work, mid shot, body shot and a close-up. The close-up worked because it had some strangeness to it, you sit and watch a couple of heads as they bob up and down to track being played.

High Definition
In my opinion this was the turning point for quality in my videos. For the earlier videos I made, I used a small handycam with some exposure functions, this worked fine until you wanted to control the focus and work in low light. The Sony Z1 allowed me to have complete control over the focus and exposure as well as giving a superb image quality. An extra to using the camera was being able to use an external microphone allowing me to capture specific areas of sound. Testing out the camera I reshot some of my earlier experiments testing out what the camera was capable of. Some of the new shots I took, included experimenting with the ‘Nintendo Wii’, and the game ‘Wii Fit’, a game that helps you exercise by using a balance board and a variety of different games. The activity I recorded being played was Hula Hoop. I decided to go for close-up of the face, as this type of shot had always been successful throughout the project.
As the player simulated the activity of hula hooping the models head continually went out of frame. For my other videos I made the point of always keeping the action inside the frame because I wanted to approach each shot as if it was a documentary allowing the viewer to see everything.
In the case of the hula hoop it just worked, when the model disappears out of frame it implies to me that something else is going on. Not only is the action mesmerising it seems quite sexual. The player seems to be just standing there bobbing up and down for one minute. As part of the video I have also included the soundtrack, it’s not until you have listened to the soundtrack for a while that you may begin to figure out what’s going on in the shot. Development to the shot would include lighting and background. The video as a whole is quite dark, next time I will have to think about the exposure a bit more. As for the background, I filmed the shot in a living room so there is a clock and a bookshelf in the background. The shot has great potential once the issues have been addressed.
Drumming, as part of the experimentation process with the HD camera, I went back and filmed the same shots again using the drumming from ‘Guitar Hero’. This time I focused on the illumination coming from the screen. Throughout the project I have always commented on how the illumination from the screen and lights up areas of the face at key points of game play. In the first shot all the lights in the room had been turned off so much of the video at the beginning is dark, just beging able to see the outline of the face over time flashes would appear revealing the face. I then moved on to the next stage developing the shot, in all my videos before this point I had kept the soundtrack from the game. In the latest video I totally removed the game noise and recorded the sound made when hitting the wooden drumsticks onto the plastic drum peripheral. The result from the video was you felt very detached at first because not a lot is happening, as the video plays on the flashes and the screen come in and make the connection between the television some kind of interaction to it.
At this point I had two directions I could have gone, Wii Fit or Guitar Hero. I went with the Hula Hoop because it was far more thought provoking than someone sitting there with drumsticks playing along to a song in silence.
Taking into account what worked and what didn’t over the course of the project I decided to go with using close-ups in all my final shots and to create some kind of video collage comparing different play styles. For my final videos I have filmed eight different people both male and female with a variety of different ages. Something that came to my attention in the developing shots was the background. All my shots were filmed in front of some plain wallpaper so nothing could distract you from the models movements. As for my presentation strategy I have taken what I have learnt from looking at Candice Breitz’s videos and decided to make a multi screen video installation involving the viewer in my piece of art.
I have decided upon a living room environment, inviting the viewers to sit down on a sofa and watch several screens. The reasoning behind this decision is looking at the type of place the game is played. This game is usually played in a living room by just yourself. For me this action would be quite embarrassing to perform in front of people I have never met before. By showing these screens like this I am breaking the barrier and letting people in on this action. The act of playing looks so strange, that’s what drew me to it. I want the viewer to make their own mind up, as to what the player is actually doing.
The premise for my final piece is commenting on the action of simulation, no longer are we expected to leave our house to play these sports, we can now simulate the activity in the comfort of our homes in front of the TV.
This has been a reflective summary of my work to date, please refer to my workbooks and journals for more examples of artist research and more details on the development process.

References Used in Essay
Webopedia, 2009,, 20/05/2009
Further References
Baudrillard J, 1994, Simulacra and Simulation, Translated Glaser S, The University of Michigan Press, Michigan
Castronova, E, 2005, Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
Cooper R & Dibbel J, 2007, Alter Ego: Avatars and their Creators, Chris Boot, London
2008, CVG Presents World of Warcraft, Future Publishing, December 08 Issue
Johan H, 1950, Homo Ludens: A Study of Play Elements of Culture, Beacon Press, Boston, sighted Castronova, E, 2005, Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
Paul F, 1981, Simulations, New York: Semiotext., Sighted, Richard J, 2006, Jean Baudrillard 2nd Edition, Routledge, University of London: London.
Richard J, 2006, Jean Baudrillard 2nd Edition, Routledge, University of London: London.
Taylor T, 2006, Play Between Worlds: Exploring Online Game Culture, MIT Press, Massachusetts

Second Life, 2009,, accessed 13/3/09
World of Warcraft, 2009,, accessed 15/3/09
Edge Online, 20009,, accessed 27/4/09
Guardian Tech, 2009,, accessed 27/4/09

Graft K, 2009, The 15 Clearest Benefits of Gaming, Edge Online,
Riegle R, Unknown Year Addicted to Learning MMORPGs and Virtual Immersion, Illinois State University, Page 1
Under the Mask Papers 2008, Under the Mask University of Bedfordshire

Updated FMP Proposal

Final Major Project Proposal


My aim for the project is to explore the area of video games, more specifically the interaction with the game and between other players.


What drew my attention to this area is I have always been an avid video game player; it has always been a part of my life as a form of entertainment and as an escape from reality. The common perception of video game players is a teenage boy locked in his room secluded from reality. Although this may be true to an extent it is not true for all gamers, as part of my project I wish to explore the social of gaming and hopefully bring out the truth that it is a social activity. Over the past few months I have been developing there have been a number of newspaper articles on the subject of online gaming and the fact that it is destroying marriages. An example being a wife caught her husband having sex ingame with a virtual prostitute. Although amusing to read because of the stupidity, I know for a fact that online game immersion has caused many social problems in the real world, well that is the perception.


Looking into the area of interaction, as stated in my aim, over the cause of the project so far I have been watching and filming people play a variety of games. The idea of the filming was generated from watching a video created by Robbie Cooper entitled Immersion, for his video he went around a number of schools in London and filmed a selection of children aged 7 – 12 playing a selection of different games. What was interesting about the shot was that the model was looking straight into the lens of the camera as if it was the screen, a technique perfected by Errol Morris.

The first video I created was a ten minute piece of myself sitting in front my PC playing a first person shooter game. Although not a well thought out shot it allowed me to watch myself and to see how actually immersed I become. I then went on developing the shot capturing close-ups of my eyes and hands as I played. From the shot of myself I turned my attention to the Nintendo DS game Brain Training; I asked a selection of people to sit down and perform a number of maths and colour challenges. I filmed eight different people playing the challenges and created a video collage. Inspiration coming from Candice Breitz and her video installation karaoke where she asked a number of different people to sing the same song, in the installation she had a number of televisions were the videos where played simultaneously and they sounded like there were singing together. In my collage I had 2x4 rows of video of all the people performing the same task, looking at the differences of people and the physical characteristics as the challenged the problems.

My latest videos are looking a exogames that make you stand up and get physically involved. What interests me in these games is the strangeness of them to a person say just looking in. A game example being the hula hoop where you stand on a balance board and simulate the action of keeping the hoop up. In this setup of videos I am taking on what I have learnt from my experiments and sticking to tight close ups of the face, as the model moves around the face goes out of frame and adds a type of mystery to what actually the person is doing.

As for sound in the pieces my experimental development has lead me to capture just the soundtrack of the game or in some cases the sound the peripheral or person make as they play the game.

Contextual Essay

In the essay I will explore the fact that sometime actions in the virtual have consequences in the real, and vice versa.

As stated in my aim, a number of media articles have been released that peoples relationships are failing due to actions in the virtual world. Not only will I address the social impact of gaming but the way the virtual is often used to promote things in the real world, an example being Americas Army, and how the US army created a game to recruit soldiers.

Presentation Strategy

Following the idea of Candice Breitz and numbers of people all performing the same task, I will stick with something similar. My idea is to have a multi television installation comprising of at least eight screens. On each screen will be a different person performing the same action, Different actions as the video progressive maybe included. In the installation will be a couch, inviting the viewer to sit down and make them become apart of the piece. I want a living room type atmosphere because that is the usual place you see game being played. Each television will be slightly different giving the sense of multiple players and living spaces.

Along aside the video will be a set of photographs around the room showing the development of actions throughout the project.


Contextual Assignment Proposal

For my contextual essay I would like to look into the subject areas of video games, more specifically the way video games are portrayed in the media.

How are video games and its players portrayed in the media?

The reasoning behind the question is, as a gamer myself, in my opinion it feels a taboo to be open about my hobby. I’m interested to find out why, and is there a perception towards gamers.

The question of ‘what is a video game?’ will help understand the magnitude of the subject matter.

The linked theme with my practical work is the social side of gaming more specifically the idea that you always play alone, of course is not entirely true. 

Constantly within the media, video games are always being the blamed because people, more commonly younger people are turning violent. This is something I will explore further. This can be done by researching news accounts in which this has happened and hopefully understand the reasoning behind the media attacks. Age branding on media will be another aspect to write about.

The publics perception of a video game player is a teenage boy in his bedroom, staring at monitor for countless hours, I believe this stereotype needs to be broken. I know many female gamers myself playing the same games that males would.  

Linking with the obsession of video games and the aftermath portrayed by the media. I will look into the idea of immersion and do the majority of the people playing games become to immerse they sacrifice opportunities in real life for something they only see on a television screen. .   


Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames, Ian Bogost

Half-Real: Video Games Between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds, Jesper Juul

Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games, Edward Castronova

Beyond psychology, by Otto Rank

Paul Virilio: From modernism to hypermodernism and beyond / edited by John Armitage and Mike Featherstone.

Jean Baudrillard

Play between Worlds: Exploring Online Game Culture, T.L. Taylor

Virtual gender: technology, consumption, and identity. edited by Eileen Green and Alison Adam

Field Research:

Questionnaires, I will ask a variety of different people on their views on video games. From the questionnaire I will gather my own information on what the public think.

Interviews, a similar format to the questionnaire asking similar questions, I will conduct interviews with the public and more specifically gamers on their views.

My own personal experience with the subject matter I feel will help greatly in the collection of research., The Global Game Industry Network, many blogs, research articles exploring different aspects to video games. .


Final Major Project Proposal

Final Major Project Proposal

My Project is going to be set around the subject matter of videogames, more specifically the way people interact with these virtual worlds and why.

A dominant theme throughout my project will be the social aspect of gaming and people’s perceptions of gamers. From a non gamers perspective it may seem very anti social, but is this entirely accurate?

I have always been interested in video games from a very young age, recently I have been interested in amount of strange news the subject is getting at the moment. Over the past few months there have been several accounts in which actions in virtual worlds have lead to problems in real life. This really interested me because I find it hard to believe that people can get that immersed in something that is not physically real just a form of visual stimulation not really differing from television.      

Within the project development so far I have looked at the variety of different video games on offer to play, in order to learn more about the genres of different games, an example being an educational game played against the way someone would be play a shooter blasting peoples heads off. Something that occurred to me while researching is that the typical joy pad is slowly being pushed away and the age of touch screens and controlling things with brain waves if really not that far off. An example of a game without the use of a joy pad is Guitar Hero, in which you play the entirety of the game with a Guitar peripheral strumming along to notes on a screen.

The stage were I am at the moment is looking into the way people play games and how as a person they play games, the reason being to look at different people and how they each tackle the game in a different way. I have gone about doing this by filming a variety of people playing the same game then showing this as a video college.

Research Sources


Robbie Cooper, his work relating to his ‘Immersion’ project and ‘Alter Egos’.

Errol Morris, ‘the interrotron’ an interview technique which relates about Robbie Coopers work

Candice Breitz, the way she presents her work and the idea of filming many people performing the same thing. For example her work ‘Karaoke’.

Bill Viola, in particular his set of video portraits "Reverse Television", people being filmed watching television.


Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames, Ian Bogost

Half-Real: Video Games Between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds, Jesper Juul

Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games, Edward Castronova

Beyond psychology , by Otto Rank

Paul Virilio: From modernism to hypermodernism and beyond / edited by John Armitage and Mike Featherstone.

Websites, The Global Game Industry Network, many blogs, research articles exploring deep theory into video games.


The British Journal of Photography

I see my project continuing with the idea of watching people playing games, very similar to were I’m at the moment. With further development to my project my work will gradually deepen its meaning and bring to light the information found from my contextual research.

As a presentation method see my work as a video installation based upon the idea of multiples of the same action, similar to the installation methods of Candice Breitz.  




The Call of Duty Kid

The Call of Duty Kid set of works is a number of videos where I have filmed myself from a variety of different angles playing the game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, a first person shooter set in the middle east.

The idea for this set of videos came from looking at Robbie Coopers work titled  ‘immersion’ in his set of videos he filmed a number of school children around the London area. From the set of videos he wanted see how much the player actually gets into the games. While the children were playing he asked a number of questions, from asking the set of questions he learnt that while he was asking the questions the children’s eyes never left the screen. This is quite amazing  because the children were but in a strange setting that they have never been before but yet their interest in videos games allowed them to mentally seclude themselves in this quite public atmosphere.

This idea of watching people interested me a lot because for one thing I have never seen it done in such away before, secondly I see a lot of potential in filming people playing games. What I would develop on from Robbie Cooper’s work would be a greater range of mode subjects.

Gamers are often perceived as teenage boys in their bedroom, with no social life.

By using a larger range of ages and sexes in this filming would comment on this view of who gamers are.

My first step for developing this technique was to recreate it; this is my Call of Duty Kid set of videos.  During the filming I tried three different angles, mid shot, close up of my head and close up of my hands.

 Mid-shot: The camera is directly in front of me, showing the chest up to the head. This was the shot used in Robbie Coopers work. The good thing about this shot is you can see all body movement all the shuffles and fidgets reacting to the action on the screen. The only criticism about this shot is, will the viewer know what’s actually going on in the shot.

Close-up head: A portrait type shot showing the top of the shoulders and full head in frame. What really draws me to this shot is the fact that I wear glasses and you are able to see the reflection of PC monitor in them.  This solves my problem to extent with the mid-shot and the viewer maybe not knowing what is going on, and what I’m trying to say.

Close-up hands: The least successful of my shots in my opinion, I placed the camera, level with my hand and documented the movement while played the game. I think this shot could be developed further by maybe testing a variety of different camera angles and constructing the shot further.

In conclusion the set of shots were a success, I have experimented with Robbie Coopers style of work and now can move on to develop it further with a greater selection of people. A continuing problem while filming shots was the amount of light, I want there to be enough light so the person is visible but then I have to balance with the amount of noise with the camera trying to compensate.  All I will need to do is get the balance between shutter speed and the amount of light I apply in the scene  





Stepping away from taking photographs of myself sitting in front my computer, I turned to my sister to do some modeling


‘Singstar’ is a Playstation game played with microphones, a karaoke game in which you have to sing along to the chosen track and then given feedback on how well or bad your singing is, a fun party game.

I took many photographs of her as she sang along to the game, waiting for certain moments where she would get into the song. A couple of things I wanted to come across in this small shot was she is a girl, a variety of different ages and sexes play the same games and that there maybe certain games with appeal more to different sexes, at the end of the day both play a mixture of both.  Also another key element is the idea of immersion and how the player can get so devoted to a game.

The example of Singstar you’re required to become so immersed because you want to try your best at singing the songs. Other games would require a different level of immersion; this would be a key element to the rest of my project. 

My thoughts on the Singstar shoot are, I accomplished what I set out to do, which was to take photographs of a person playing this specific game. Again there are issues to do with composition and the fact that the shots were taken in my front room so the wallpapered walls are present. In a way this can relate to the different places you see game being played, street and in the home. I took many different angles and focal lengths, a good combination of close-ups and mid-shots. Something I will need to thing about when a take photographs like this again is the use of flash. In many of my shots shadows are present, over all that just don’t look right in the shot. The use of a external flash head and positioning of the flash will be key.

Long Exposure Ratchet and Clank.

Going back to the idea of long exposure and time. I took some long exposure shots of my sister playing in a different location from where I took my self-portraits. What interested me to take these shots was the small LED on the joy pad.  My idea was to capture the light stream as she moved her hands. The idea behind the hand movement is a joy pad only requires you to use your fingers and thumbs, but yet people begin to lean and move the controller with the movement of the game.

Throughout the shoot I tried many different angles and vantage points, giving the impression someone is watching you, rather than from the players perspective. Again these are a starting point so they have a very developmental fell to them, the main distraction being the background of the shots. This would be easy to fix, the simplest to prop a screen up against the wall behind the model. The colour of the background would depend on the person’s clothes, but would need to be developed on. Overall the content of the shot I am very happy with, the light trails have shown up nicely and slight blurring of the face gives me the impression of the unknown, something unnerving about a blurred face.  







45 minute exposure

32 minute exposure



Developing on from my first long exposure shot, I changed the positioning of the camera from in front to facing the back of my head and the monitor.

My aim for this shoot was to capture the idea of time this time from a different angle as if someone was looking over your shoulder. I also wanted the viewer of the shot to see what I was doing.

My first shot I set the aperture to f22 and the shutter speed of 45 minutes. As with my other long exposure shots I used a remote triggered release, allowing my to control the camera remotely.  Once the photograph was taken it then took over thirty minutes for the camera to process the file. I imagine it took a while longer because I was shooting in RAW and the file size is larger.  Over all I think the shot worked well, the shot gives the illusion that you can see right though my head. Some image is also present on the monitor, right in the center of the back of my head, I imagine this is because that was the one spot where my head did not move as much creating a perfect exposure over time.  Things that need developing on in this shot is the overall composition on the shot, because the PC tower is present in the shot and just distracts you from the focal points which is the head and the monitor. The exposure of the needs changing also, parts of the monitor have been completely bleached out.

RAW files, these files are compressed "losslessly". The real advantage of using a RAW format file is that it has received almost no processing by the camera. No sharpening or White Balance will have been applied. What you have with a RAW file is essentially a digital camera's "negative" or original.”

My second shot, taking into consideration the exposure time. As for the composition of the shot I would need to move several items around just to get the right shot. As I’m only experimenting with techniques at this point I did not feel this was necessary, the use of cropping when editing my help to show what I’m trying to accomplish.  What I did change in this shot was the exposure time. My first shot was 45 minutes and this shot 32 minutes, I was expecting a tremendous change in the exposure of the shot. When it actually came to looking at the finished image this was not true. The exposure looks about the same overall, in some areas looks to be exposed more than the first. In this shot the monitor is completely bleached out, the only thing to explain this would be the movement of my head and that in he first shot I was just lucky to get some of the image present on the screen. This could also be the reason for the rest of the shot being more exposed than the first.



I began my project looking at the idea of time, more specifically the amount of time players spend playing these games.

Time, a very broad subject to start of the project, but is a key element and a key issue to do with game. The idea gamers spend to long playing these ‘pointless’ games.  

The practice side to the project began with me taking several images of myself using long exposure to capture my movement while playing games. The point for taking the photographs was merely to just a start to represent the idea of time.

My first set of long exposure photographs consisted of me setting up a still camera next to my computer monitor then creating a remote trigger for the long exposure timing.  The reason for the remote trigger is because only allows an exposure of 60 seconds unless you use the bulb function.

Bulb, allows you hold open the shutter as long as the shutter release button is held down, the use of a shutter release cable will help tremendously, especially in very long exposures.

The camera was positioned just to right of the screen. During the shoot I tried a variety of different shots changing the height and slightly adjusting the position of the camera.  As these where my first pictures I wasn’t to worried about the background and perfect composition, I was more interested in the perfecting of the technique.

Each of my photographs were taken with a exposure of 10 – 15 minutes. The first positioned shot was a head shot, the problem with this shot is that the camera is paned up to far, there is to much space above my head and to the sides, to develop on the shot I would to need to zoom in closer.  The next shot I moved the camera in the opposite direction, pointing at the other side of my face. Again the shot was to far away and the focal point myself was not as strong as I would like. The final shot in this shoot, I took into consideration the mistakes with composition in the other shots. Although the background was quite busy the framing of myself in the shot was perfect.

The effect of long exposure on the shots is really interesting, The head and body are slightly blurred were a moved ever so slightly. Although a game that only requires you to move your hands, my idea of capturing time in a photograph worked out well.

Development on this technique would be to think about the background and to think about other positions other than straight in front of me.