Art in Action: Transformative Power of Gaming from a Neuroscientific Viewpoint


Session Title:

  • Game and Movement

Presentation Title:

  • Art in Action: Transformative Power of Gaming from a Neuroscientific Viewpoint




  • Of all the subfields of digital media, gaming and game design is specifically important for multiple reasons : “Games can’t be listened to as music or read text, they must  be played” says Espan Aarseth. The act of playing is in itself a heightened version of interactivity . Again within the scope of “algorithmic games” as Alexander Galloway describes computer based games , play is a collection of interactions , interaction with the game,  through its rules, connection between player and the game, such as challenges  and overcoming them or player’s connection with the plot, interaction between the player and the machine , social interaction between players etc. Interaction is based on action , the machine and the player has to “act” to create and sustain the play.

    The act of playing also involves a heightened version of multimodality. Vision, audition and haptic modalities are constantly at play to facilitate the gaming experience. Feedback, navigation, core elements of the narrative structure such as characters are generally conveyed through a sensory cocktail of sounds, changing imagery, vibrations on game controllers etc. From a bare biophysical viewpoint, one can claim that this heightened version of multimodality activates a denser network  of neural connections , a larger section of cortical areas than just reading a text or listening to music.
    In his book “Gaming” Alexander Galloway calls algorithmic games an “action-based medium”. According to Galloway what used to be primarily the domain of eyes and looking is now more likely that of muscles and doing, what used to be the act of reading is now the act of doing or just the “act”. This marks a paradigm shift not only conceptually but also physically, with gaming we’re moving from the sensory domain of singular modalities that are sensed/perceived passively to multimodal experiences where active participation through neuromuscular activity is a must.
    In this paper, the transformative potential of gaming as an expressive medium will be discussed from a neuroscientific viewpoint.