Everything Old is New Again: Contemporary Approaches to Representing Greco-Roman Visual Culture in Video Games: paper to be presented at 'Visual Intersections II', Durham University, July 10th-12th, 2017

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Everything Old is New Again: Contemporary Approaches to Representing Greco-Roman Visual Culture in Video Games: paper to be presented at 'Visual Intersections II', Durham University, July 10th-12th, 2017
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  B. Chesterton Visual Intersections II, Durham University Everything Old is New Again: Contemporary Approaches to Representing Greco-Roman Visual Culture in Video Games Barnaby Chesterton, Texas Tech University, fbchesterton@gmail.com The past decade has witnessed the development of new approaches to the representation of Greco-Roman visual culture within video games. In this paper, I consider those developments as embodied in two games - The Talos  Principle (Croteam, 2014), and  Apotheon  (Alientrap, 2015) - both of which demonstrate complex applications of ancient visual culture as an element of game design. The Talos Principle  (fig.1) employs photorealistic graphics to conjure semi-ruined cityscapes, seemingly imitating games which create simulacra of the ancient world by evoking instantly recognisable art, buildings and locales - such as  Ryse: Son of Rome  (fig.2). However, I suggest that the game sabotages the veracity of its representation, emphasising that a playerÕs engagement with the game-world is engagement with an artificial environment, purposefully destabilising the constructed simulacrum through the introduction of anachronistic elements of design. I argue that the simultaneously realistic/unrealistic representation of ancient visual culture contributes to a larger narrative process of destabilisation, reflecting the playerÕs uncertain role and identity within the game world. By contrast,  Apotheon (fig.3) eschews photorealism in its engagement with Greco-Roman visual culture: instead, the techniques of ancient art function as a means of depicting the game-world tout court  . I demonstrate that the game undertakes a unique intermingling of ancient and modern visual cultures, transfiguring the motifs of Greek black-figure  pottery into facets of game design. In sum, I submit that The Talos Principle and  Apotheon evince innovative approaches to Greco-Roman visual culture within gaming: in both, visual culture - reimagined and reconfigured - is employed on stylistic, narrative and mechanical levels within the game design  process, attesting to the developing habits of reception and representation at work within the medium. Keywords : Archaeogaming; Classics and Ancient History; Greco-Roman Visual Culture; Reception Studies; Video Game Studies. Fig.2,  Ryse: Son of Rome (Crytek, 2013) Fig.1, The Talos Principle (Croteam, 2014) Fig, 3,  Apotheon  (Alientrap, 2015)
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