There is nothing “solid” about these virtual landscapes. Solid comes from Latin solidus, indicating firm and stable objects. The virtual landscapes of the videogames, on the other hand, are fluid, transient, and unstable. They simulate solidity, but are fragile, much more fragile than the reality we take for granted. These spaces are made of polygons, that is, they appear to have three dimensions. They are solid in the sense that they present a “uniformly close and coherent texture”.
Our spaces are changing shape before our eyes. Marc Augé’s non-places have been superseded by hyper-places, the electronic landscapes of the videogame that have transcended the screen to become a forma mentis, a way of understanding and conceptualizing reality, an updated version of cognitive mapping. Hyper-places are abstractions of mediated spaces, like those we experience on television and cinema. Hyper-places are spatial instantiations of simulations Hyper-places are pervasive in technologically-advanced societies. These spaces have their own set of rules. An inner logic. Peculiar chronologies. Specific dynamics. Videogames do not really simulate reality: rather, they simulate mediated realities. FIFA Soccer is not a simulation of soccer (the sport), rather it is a simulation of televised soccer, with its visual and rhetoric conventions and codes.
Videogame spaces are as authentic as the real ones, or as Baudrillard would probably say, as fake. Videogame spaces are global, they speak a visual language that transcends local idioms. These spaces are a-historical, or, better, they create their own history even when they evoke “real” historical events. These are spaces that can be traversed individually but also collectively. Some can even be inhabited. They are all excessive, hence the prefix hyper. We cannot fully explore them: they always escape us, somehow. Videogames are mostly about architecture, not narrative. But even architecture is not what [it] used to be. As Virilio wrote in The Aesthetics of Disappearance, “architecture [is] no longer in architecture, but in geometry; the space-time of vectors, the aesthetic of construction is dissimulated in the special effects of the communication machines, engines of transfer and transmission” (1991, p. 64). Videogames are about simulating movement in space(s). Videogames are all about manipulating time and space.
[…] In a sense, videogame spaces are the prototypes of the cities of the future. Paul Virilio wrote that the airport prefigures tomorrow’s urban spaces. Airports are standardised spaces (or non-places, according to Augé), air-conditioned, and under a pervasive surveillance. Simulations are like airports: liminal places. Points of departure. Points of arrival."
We had a lot of trouble with western mental health workers who came here immediately after the genocide and we had to ask some of them to leave.
They came and their practice did not involve being outside in the sun where you begin to feel better. There was no music or drumming to get your blood flowing again. There was no sense that everyone had taken the day off so that the entire community could come together to try to lift you up and bring you back to joy. There was no acknowledgement of the depression as something invasive and external that could actually be cast out again.
Instead they would take people one at a time into these dingy little rooms and have them sit around for an hour or so and talk about bad things that had happened to them. We had to ask them to leave."