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“Everywhere there is an interaction between
a place, a time and an expenditure of energy
there is a rhythm.”
             ...
Bodies, Rhythm and Digital Games
An introduction to Lefebvre’s Rhythmanalysis and its
relationship to digital, traditional...
Aims

➡ “Gameness” and aesthetics

➡ Why rhythmanalysis?

➡ The elements of rhythmanalysis

➡ The rhythmanalyst

➡ Dressag...
rhythmic aesthetic	 	 	      tactical aesthetic

• physical                   • cognitive
• ecstatic                   • i...
movement                                                systems/rhizome
   & rhythm                                       ...
Henri Lefebvre

• Reacting to Marxist focus on Big
  and Time.


• Le Quotidien
   • mundane, everyday, repetitive


• Int...
“Is there a general concept of rhythm?
Answers: yes, and everyone possesses it [...]
Yet the meanings of the term remain o...
Rhythm according to
Lefebvre
• Repetition
   • Reprise
   • Measure

• A sequence of movements

• Time + Space... Rhythm
 ...
Types of rhythm
• Cyclical
   • Cosmic
   • Natural

• Linear
   • Begining and end
   • Human and Artificial

• Isorhythmi...
The rhythmanalyst

• “The body produces a garland
  of rhythms... a bouquet”
      • An aesthetic quality to
        rhyth...
Dressage

• Gestures are not natural


• We are “broken in” by
  society and culture


• Personal gestures are
  manipulat...
Digital Games

• Traditional, digital and
  pervasive games all different


• Player forms a eurhythmia (or
  isorhythmia)...
Pervasive Games

• Social space and rhythms


• Not cybertexts
• Artistic spatial practice


• Explore rhythms of social s...
Summary

➡ Rhythms are a route to “gameness”

➡ Time, Space, Rhythm

➡ Cyclical, Linear, Eurhythmia, Arrythmia

➡ Rhythman...
Bodies, rhythms and digital games
Bodies, rhythms and digital games
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Bodies, rhythms and digital games

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This talk will cover Henri Lefebrve's rhythmanalysis technique and discuss how it may be applied to digital, non-digital and pervasive games. As well as his methodology, his work on bodies, gestures, traffic, exchanges and daily rhythms all bring insights to the practice of game playing.

Rhythmanalysis, in its original formulation, can be used to describe the way games fit into society and the larger patterns of how play fits into everyday life. It is also well suited to explore the lower level detail of gameplay itself in a physical and embodied manner. Because of this it gives a tool that can describe gaming from the second to second button-mashing dance of gameplay, though game structures, to play sessions and ultimately how games fit into the wider, cultural and societal cycles of our lives.

Many discussions of gaming describe it as a break in the everyday or an escape into an alternate world of fantasy and the virtual spaces of digital games make this separation appear more stark. However the fundamentally physical, repetitive and rhythmic characteristics of games are intrinsically a reflection of their quotidian nature. Exploring the interactive eurhythmia that games create through the specific linear and cyclic rhythms of gameplay opens up these cybernetic texts to a physical and embodied analysis. It provides a way to understand certain game patterns in ways that narrative and ludological approaches cannot.

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Bodies, rhythms and digital games

  1. 1. “Everywhere there is an interaction between a place, a time and an expenditure of energy there is a rhythm.” - Lefebvre
  2. 2. Bodies, Rhythm and Digital Games An introduction to Lefebvre’s Rhythmanalysis and its relationship to digital, traditional and pervasive games. Dan Dixon University of the West of England Digital Cultures Research Centre | Pervasive Media Studio
  3. 3. Aims ➡ “Gameness” and aesthetics ➡ Why rhythmanalysis? ➡ The elements of rhythmanalysis ➡ The rhythmanalyst ➡ Dressage ➡ Digital games ➡ Pervasive games
  4. 4. rhythmic aesthetic tactical aesthetic • physical • cognitive • ecstatic • individuating • chaotic • understandable • intoxicating • astounding • interaction • simulation • rhythm • rules • dialectic/conversational • narrative • “playing” • “gaming”
  5. 5. movement systems/rhizome & rhythm understanding autotelic lay ful pla yfu p Twirling Pervasive Lego l gaming RPGs rhythm-action PnP RPG esMMORPGs sensation rhythmic gam tactical FPS Dancing Gambling eve Ballroom Navigation ryd Walking Dancing Stockmarket ryd ay eve Sports ay Dionysian earnest Apollonian Lefebvre / Gadamer de Certeau
  6. 6. Henri Lefebvre • Reacting to Marxist focus on Big and Time. • Le Quotidien • mundane, everyday, repetitive • Intro to Modernity constructed like a symphony • Rhythmanalysis specifically mentioned in POS (1974) • Rhythmanalysis published posthumously in 1992
  7. 7. “Is there a general concept of rhythm? Answers: yes, and everyone possesses it [...] Yet the meanings of the term remain obscure.” - Lefebvre
  8. 8. Rhythm according to Lefebvre • Repetition • Reprise • Measure • A sequence of movements • Time + Space... Rhythm • dialectic • “An organ has rhythm, but the rhythm [...] is not an organ” • “... it is an interaction” Rhythm of Black Lines, Piet Mondrian • Not just a beat or a waveform
  9. 9. Types of rhythm • Cyclical • Cosmic • Natural • Linear • Begining and end • Human and Artificial • Isorhythmia • Polyrhythmia • Eurhythmia (symphonic) Violin strings vibrating • Arrhythmia
  10. 10. The rhythmanalyst • “The body produces a garland of rhythms... a bouquet” • An aesthetic quality to rhythms • “At no moment have the analysis of rhythms [...] lost sight of the body.” • Rhythm is a tool of analysis, not the object to be analysed • The body is not just the subject, but also the tool of Form is the Language of Time analysis Robert Horowitz • The Rhythmanalyst listens
  11. 11. Dressage • Gestures are not natural • We are “broken in” by society and culture • Personal gestures are manipulated by external rhythms Construction: Black and White Counterpoint Burton Wasserman
  12. 12. Digital Games • Traditional, digital and pervasive games all different • Player forms a eurhythmia (or isorhythmia) with the cybertext that is the digital game • There is a specific rhythm of gameness, which is different from the rhythms of other cybertexts Broadway Boogie Woogie, Piet Mondrian • A form of dressage
  13. 13. Pervasive Games • Social space and rhythms • Not cybertexts • Artistic spatial practice • Explore rhythms of social space • Explore dressage • Breaching experiments Personal Domain of Freedom and Ecstacy • Turn the player into a Robert Horowitz rhythmanalyst
  14. 14. Summary ➡ Rhythms are a route to “gameness” ➡ Time, Space, Rhythm ➡ Cyclical, Linear, Eurhythmia, Arrythmia ➡ Rhythmanalysts uses the body to listen to the aesthetics of social space ➡ Dressage - Culture breaks us to certain gestures ➡ Digital games - break us into certain gestures ➡ Pervasive games - artistic spatial practice that can explore gestures

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