Interaction after Representation: Intra-acting with Videogames

In this paper, I argue that game studies must continue to move towards a rejection of the representationalist ontologies that restrict explorations of play. I suggest we look to Karen Barad’s agential realism as a basis for new theories. In her work reality is understood as a continuous production of performative materiality [1]. This idea resonates with the continuous, looping hardware and software actions that construct videogame worlds. While Barad’s work requires a certain understanding of elements of quantum physics, when contextualised within the sphere of digital games, we can instead focus on its implications for theories of play and action. I will focus on experiences of playing Antichamber [3] and Manifold Garden [5], reading them as active engagements with materiality, as understood by Barad, that have the potential to challenge particular ontological concepts. Ultimately, this paper furthers the idea that games can function as important philosophical tools due to their role in interactive (or ‘intra-active’) phenomena, over visual or representational qualities.